But I don’t have time!!     Academic Skills

Why spending time on your academic skills is so important. By Lisa Turner

So, you have a book chapter to read, a lecture to listen to, tutorial questions and an online quiz to prepare for and that’s just for one subject, this week! Sound familiar? The workload at Uni can sometimes feel overwhelming, so it’s not surprising that so many students feel they don’t have time to work on their academic skills as well as cover their weekly content. But would you believe me if I told you that spending a few hours perfecting things like essay structure, referencing, critical reading and source analysis will actually save you time?

Most of us start Uni with little to no experience being a student. So, not only are we learning all the necessary content to be a nurse, lawyer or teacher, but we also have to learn how to be a student. Now I know it sounds a bit strange but hear me out. When I talk about learning to be a student, I don’t mean learning how to cook 2-minute noodles or survive pub crawls. I am talking about developing the academic skills you need to succeed. Unfortunately, while universities do a great job at teaching you content, not all make time early on to develop those essential academic skills like essay writing, critical thinking and referencing. It sometimes feels that these are skills that you are expected to have, but you are rarely taught directly. Now I am definitely not saying universities don’t support you in this area, they certainly do, and do it well! But what I’ve noticed, is that if something is not part of a student’s content, then students don’t feel they have the time to work on it! I certainly felt this way when I first started studying, who has time to learn how to structure a paragraph when there is legislation to be understood and cases to summarise!

But, my student friend, now that I am older and a little wiser, I have learnt that there are so many benefits to refining your academic skills:

1. Up to 15% of your assessments is for referencing. Learn to do it well and you start each assessment with an easy 15%!

2. You have soooooo much to read. Did you know there are different ways to read depending on the reason you’re reading? Learning to preview, skim, scan, and read in detail and when to do each will save you hours.

3. Essays and assignment questions are confusing at times. Don’t you wish you knew exactly what your lecturer wanted? Well, wish no longer, learning how to understand and write to a rubric means you will always know.

These are just three examples of why developing your academic skills is worth it. Even better, developing them doesn’t have to be overly time consuming, there are tips and tools out there that are life-changing! And the best part, you will use these skills in almost every assessment in every subject in every year of every degree you ever do!

So, if I have managed to pique your interest in academic skills, have a chat with your university’s academic skills team or the Learning Skills Advisors at the CUC, and see how you can make your study life a bit easier.