Social Media Ambassador Yutong Yao, who is currently completing a master’s in Anthropology at University College London, shares her top study tips for fellow scholars and international students.

""As Chevening Scholars, study is always top of mind. But whether you want to explore the UK, take part in Chevening events, or just get to know the people from your course, it’s important to make time for social activities too.

The question then becomes, how do we strike a balance between our study life and personal life?

Throughout my time at University College London (UCL), I have picked up some handy study habits that I hope will help you too.

Here are my top tips!


1. Set clear goals

Whenever people ask my advice for postgraduate study, my answer is always the same: your expectation and goals are more important than your grades.

What’s your goal for studying? I believe you will have already answered that question in your Chevening interview. But after six months in the UK, do you still hold on to your original thoughts? Or has your answer been modified?

Always bear this question in mind to ensure your study supports your personal growth.

For example, if you want to apply for a PHD program at the completion of your master’s, then you will need to practice your research and proposal writing skills, and maybe even start to make connections with relevant tutors.

If, however, your goal is to advance professionally, then the classroom is a good place to practice expressing your ideas and communicating with the others.

Everyone’s goals will be different, so don’t feel anxious if you find out others are achieving things that you’re not. Focus on yourself and think about where you want to be, and what kind of person you want to be, in the next five to ten years.


2. Make a study plan

Having set your goals, it’s time to make a study plan! This step is not only about managing presentation and essay deadlines; it’s also about making sure you have enough time to comprehend the content.

To ensure I’m not missing anything, here’s how I like to break it down:

Acquire all the information related to the course.

This includes, but is not limited to, the course outline, slides, readings, and assessment tasks.

All of this information should be available on Moodle, Blackborad, or whichever website your university uses.

If there’s anything missing (such as example essays from previous years), contact the course instructor early on, so you’re not panicking at the end.

Make a plan.

Your plan should be flexible and unique to your personal learning habits and study goals.

For example, currently each class requires me to complete a list of readings, which is crucial to the discussion. So for that, I’ll preserve two days ahead of the course to finish the readings.

Keep thinking.

The theories taught in class are not always the ‘right’ ones. A single fact can always be analysed from diverse perspectives.

Now that you’ve got unique insights into this world, what’s your viewpoint? Don’t be afraid to ask questions and share your opinions.

Grab any chance you get to communicate with your instructor and classmates, and I believe you’ll benefit from it.



3. Go beyond the classroom

Studying is not limited to classes. Make use of the resources and opportunities you have available to you to learn even more!

Look for additional resources.

No matter which university you’re at, additional resources will be available to help you with your studies.

For example, if you struggle with academic writing, you could visit the writing centre and attend tutorials there. The libraries are also likely to offer guidance for things like finding publications and citing sources. You could also make an appointment for an office hour with your professor to talk about any specific issues you have.

Attend relevant events.

Attending academic events is a great way to enhance your study and expand your networks.

This could include lectures given by famous scholars, book launch events, or even the social events in your department – all of them provide an ideal place for you to meet new people and exchange ideas!

When selecting events, don’t restrict your horizon to your own field of study; the events of other subjects could also offer insightful information that would make your conclusions more well-rounded. For instance, once I attended a drama therapy event, and the ‘theatre of the oppressed’ ended up inspiring a lot of my field work.

Don’t be afraid to seek out support.

Learning can be challenging. For many of us Chevening Scholars, it’s our first time in the UK, and English is not our first language. It’s very common to have difficulties and to get frustrated, but don’t give up!

Talk to your friends and teachers if you are feeling down. They will be able to support you and perhaps even give you some helpful advice.

Your Chevening community is always here to help you as well – don’t forget to make use of this extraordinary network!

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