Happy New Year and welcome back on the York Blogs page for Economics! So you want to start this year off right? Here are the top 9 skills I think you need to succeed on the course and make the most of your time as a student. These are skills that you will no doubt develop as you progress, but are useful starting points if you are impatient to get to it and want to be ahead of the game.
Chances are, you are already highly enthusiastic about the subject. But there is a difference between the initial buzz that gets you started and the long-lasting enthusiasm you require to sustain your interest. There is nothing worse than setting off on what you think is the right path, and feel like you’re being dragged along for 3 years of your life! Personally, it’s the knowledge that every topic and module brings a different point of interest that can be related to the real world which has kept me enthusiastic and positive about my choice.
Even if you don’t feel particularly curious right now, your initial interest in Economics can be stretched to incredible lengths once you have every imaginable resource at your fingertips. You’ll become (very) familiar with the library, your lecturers and discover the breadth of access you have to online journals and publications. There are no limits – curiosity has given me the ability to solve my own problems when I don’t understand something, and tailor my essay discussions to what I find interesting, and not necessarily stop at what is expected at the most basic level.
Ah the dreaded organisation card. Clutter is not your friend, even if you claim there is order in your disorder. Being organised ensures that you do not miss deadlines (often you won’t be reminded or reminded too late to start) and stay on top of your work. Economics is split into very different modules that rarely overlap at the beginning, and you should organise your independent work-time accordingly. The sooner you figure out which techniques work for you, the easier the transition from school to university will be.
Or, thinking outside the box! Yes, Economics can be very theoretical. But it is also well suited to creative minds, and the dull nature it is often assigned shouldn’t put you off if you have no intention of joining the corporate world! Although a large proportion of graduates remain in the field of Economics, the possibilities are endless. I’m currently thinking of setting up my own business after university, and my degree provides me both the theoretical skill set and maturity to pursue my dream. You’ll meet people on the course which have a completely different view of the world from yours, which is truly fascinating.
Don’t be afraid to have an opinion – like in all areas of life, the ability to make a stand can set you apart from the crowd. As an Economics student, you will be exposed to biased material on certain occasions, and being able to make a counter-argument, or simply identifying the main argument, is a great way of connecting with the content and with your peers, in discussions or simply in your own head.
Yes, sometimes it’s hard to get yourself out of bed and start that essay, especially when there’s no one to tell you what you can and can’t do. Apart from your future self. Think of the kind of person you want to be in 3 years’ time, and think of the work you need to put in now to reach your goal. That is my way of staying motivated. Even without a plan for your future, which totally shouldn’t worry you at this point, it’s a good thing to realise that doing well at university is a life-long reward you can only credit yourself for.
Be proactive, forward-thinking; keep your mind busy and your eyes open! Never underestimate the power of (any!) random opportunity. You might make a really good friend joining an unrelated society or discovering a job-sector you never even thought of by getting a summer job you didn’t really want. University is the ideal environment to step out of your comfort zone without major consequences if you trip up. Take initiative on the course too, and listen to your instinct. If you’re lost, seek advice. If you’ve got an idea, pursue it.
Do you get easily distracted? Then now is the time to start rectifying the problem! Teach yourself how to get to work without switching between your reading and Facebook every 5 minutes. (I’ll be writing about my ‘top 5 apps for productivity at uni’ in my February post). I have found out that I am most productive in the morning, so I assign my most intensive tasks to morning slots (essay writing or maths assignments, for example) and keep the lighter stuff for the afternoon (like reading or preparing for a lecture). Using your time efficiently generally means that you can cut down on the number of hours you work without compromising on its quality, so it’s a win-win really!
As a student of York, you’re only studying on-site for 10 weeks at a time, in the autumn, spring and summer term. This means you need a considerable amount of stamina and energy to get everything done as best as you can in a relatively short time. Get plenty of (or at least enough) sleep, eat well (this is so important, trust me), and don’t frazzle your brain by overworking it. Stay calm, work hard, have fun and everything will be alright!
If you liked this post or if you have any ideas or queries, please leave a comment!