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Info Skills Road Trip: 1 - Getting started: Before you start

What to pack

Subject outline -- This should tell you exactly what assessment you have, what you are being marked on and what referencing style you should use.  This is your "map" for the subject itself, so don't leave home without it.

LearnJCU -- All of your subject materials (including your class readings and the subject outline) will either be kept here, or will be listed here.  If you don't know how to use LearnJCU, find out as soon as possible.  You can learn more about LearnJCU here.  If you can't access LearnJCU, contact the IT Help Desk straightaway.  You cannot study at JCU without LearnJCU, so make sure you can access it and find all of your subjects.

Email -- The University (including your lecturers and course administrators) will contact you using your JCU email account.  In return you should use your JCU email account to contact your lecturers. Any announcements for your courses will be sent to this account.  You can set up your student account to forward messages to another email address, if you want, but you need to know how to access your JCU student email account.

Internet Access -- You need regular access to the Internet to use many of our resources, and to access LearnJCU and email.  If you do not have a reliable Internet connection at your home, find your nearest library or computer access centre (or a good cafe with Wireless) and find out how to access the Internet there.  Try to make sure you get online at least 2-3 times a week while studying.

Emergency contacts list -- You are not expected to embark on your university study alone.  You are now part of a "learning project team", which includes your lecturers and tutors, your librarians and your learning advisers.  Make sure you know how to contact these people when you need help - and don't hesitate to call.  Ask for help whenever you need it, and don't wait until the last minute.


Getting ready for the "journey"

Okay, so this is your first semester at university (or, maybe it has been a while since you last studied).  What do you need to know before you can start working on your first assignment?

  • Have you found all of your subjects on LearnJCU?  Have you downloaded the subject outline and looked at the assessment schedule for each?
  • Have you mapped out all of your assessment for the semester?  Do you know exactly when each assignment is due, and noticed when you have two or more pieces due at the same time?
  • Have you checked the word limits (etc) for your assignments, the referencing style and the genre, so you can see which is going to take the most time to write?

Give yourself plenty of time to work on your assignments.  It takes time to:

  • Research
  • Read
  • Write
  • Edit

And you need to do all of these things, so think about how much time you are going to give to each assignment.  Above all:  don't leave it until the last minute!

Give yourself time to get lost, get stuck and get help.

The Learning Advisors have some resources about time management.  You should take the time to think about getting organised - it will save you a lot of headaches later.

How much time?

Everyone is different, and works at a different pace.  However, it's a good idea to start your assignments 3 weeks before they are due.

Week 1:  Read over the assignment question and think about it.  Go over your class readings and start doing some research.

Week 2:   Spend the first half of this week researching and reading, then start writing (you will keep researching as you write).

Week 3:  Finish writing your first draft at the beginning of the week.  Ignore it for a day, then edit it at least one whole day before you hand it in (you may find things that will take a few hours to fix).

You will probably be working on 2 or 3 different assignments at the same time.  Prioritise how much time you give to each assignment based on the size and grading of the assignment (a 2000 word assignment worth 25% is going to need more attention than a 500 word assignment worth 10%). 

BUT -- don't fall into the trap of ignoring the small assignments entirely while you work on a bigger one.

Each assignment needs plenty of thinking time.  The earlier you start thinking about it, the better.


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