5 Tips For Students Starting An English Degree
Many of you may be starting university in September and several of you may be doing an English degree. So here are some helpful tips to those starting out!
Use the reading list given to you, to its full advantage. Reading up on the author is always helpful, and look at websites like Wikipedia or Sparknotes to take down useful notes. While you can’t reference these websites in your essays, they are helpful to give you a feel of the book, as well as give you topics to bring up in seminars.
2. Don’t be shy
A lot of classes are filled with students, sitting and saying nothing. You will only get out what you put in, so make sure you contribute and discuss your ideas with the rest of your group. If you’re nervous talking in front of people, talk to someone individually and share your thoughts on the book. Everyone will be nervous so bite the bullet and put yourself out there.
3. Minimise Book Costs
Think about buying an E-Reader or going second hand bookshop hunting! As nice as it is having lovely looking editions of books on your shelves, it isn’t always practical. It’s handy writing notes in the pages, highlighting and dog-earing pages so it’s worth looking for cheaper options. E-readers are brilliant because a lot of classics are available for free and they are easy to carry around. If you did want a physical copy of a book, try buying books second hand. Many older students may sell their books to new students, or just look in your local charity shop. An english degree needn’t be expensive!
4. Study with others
English can be a lonely degree sometimes! You read books on your own, write essays on your own etc. So organise meet ups and get together with people in your class and discuss ideas. Highlight important topics that might be useful for an essay or discuss different sources for referencing. It’s a lot more bearable doing work when you are having a bit of fun doing it!
5. Pick up a theory book
These have saved me many times throughout the course of my degree and although they can sometimes be pricey, they can help with essays massively. Theory books run through themes and topics that may crop up more than once during your studies.
Try looking at Peter Barry’s Beginning Theory – An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory or An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory by Andrew Bennet. These are both great theory books that will help you get a grasp on the underlying themes of your texts (and collecting their ideas and using them for essays makes you sound a cleverer than you might be!)
And finally, enjoy it! An English degree is great fun so as long as you do plenty of reading and preparation, your first year should go smoothly!