It’s about that time in second year, its middle of the term and you actually feel like life is going well. You’ve been going to all your lectures, seeing your friends, and by some strange miracle have cracked the secret formula for work, uni and having a life. Life is good. That is until you realise that all of a sudden, assessments are nigh, and as much as you vow that second year will be different this time, it is oh so difficult to make that change.
Six weeks into second year Geography, and we have already had two assessments, one group presentation for Cultural and Historical Geographies and one concept note for Social Geography. What’s different about these modules from first year, is that now they are much more focused on the theory and understanding of the origins of these geographies. This means that as much as I love a good journal article, they were not going to be any use to me for these forthcoming assessments. Books were the key (for Social Geography especially).
Having learned from first year at how awful group work can be, we worked well to execute a plan early on. Each of us had our own sub division to work on, and finding and compiling information wasn’t too difficult. Going over lectures and utilising Library Search came in handy when looking for resources. Luckily for me, many of the resources I found had online versions so I was able to have tabs and tabs of the books I need all in one space. With all the research collected the actual presentation was just a matter of collaborating on a PowerPoint with our research. Easy.
The written assignment. There’s something about written assignments that make allow you to convince yourself you have more time than you actually do, and it is always worse when the word count is low. This concept note was 500 words; the easiest of word counts to underestimate. You must be informative, analytical and concise, and for this module I did not have the privilege of online resources. Each book I needed knowledge from was a physical book I had to physically take out from the library. One book in particular was a real pain to get a hold of (Critical Introductions to Social Geography, by Del Casino) as on a course with 65 students, we had 7 books available. Finding this book was like finding a rare Pokémon, so knowing as many people on your course is essential because when you find somebody with one you can always take a picture of the pages you need.
Now I’m just going to outright say it, I had everything I needed to do this concept note, yet somehow between, work, lectures, American football and UniTV, I managed to leave my very first written assignment to the last minute. Like the very last minute. I started my assignment at 7am on the day it was due.
NEVER DO THIS. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow I had acquired the attitude of a first year, second years don’t do this, because second year counts! (but I did) When it comes to absorbing a lot of information In a little time I adopted strategy I like to call “The Spread”, usually this is split across several screens, however when your resources are physical books it looks pretty much like this.
Any surface, open drawer, stool or floor will do, as long as what you need is within arm’s reach. Now the benefit of print books, especially ones from the library over digital are that they come with gems like these. NOTES from previous students in the same boat <3. This book in particular (Introducing Social Geographies, Pain et al, 2001) was actually fundamental in solidifying my understanding (not just because of the notes). The headings, and the summary boxes especially, made information easy to find, and to understand. The Del Casino book also had a wonderful table in it, which compared the four methods approached it mentioned in the previous chapter, again a short summary in order to target this information.
I think in the back of my mind I knew I’d be able to complete this assignment with very limited time, and I did get a strong 2:1 for it. However, had I not left it to the last minute, that 2;1 may have been a first. I can definitely say I will not be falling into a first year mind set for my following assignments.
This has been Andre 😊.