1. Get involved
The psychology courses at Lincoln are unique in that they are structured almost entirely around student experience. We have course reps (for single honours, forensic and clinical) for each year group, who feedback suggestions and comments from students to staff. Students can also get involved with research projects, as both research assistants and participants. The SONA system at Lincoln advertises current projects for students to sign up as participants. By third year, you need 60 SONA credits to be able to use undergraduates in your dissertation, so these are worth collecting early. They allow you to gain an insight into what conducting research at the university is like and make you venture out into university territory that you otherwise may not visit before third year (we have a sleep lab and a baby lab in the School of Psychology!)
2. Get to know the library
In your first couple of weeks at university, take a stroll around the library. You may have had a whistle-stop tour of the university facilities in fresher’s week, but take an hour out to explore it yourself. It’ll be worth it – I promise. The psychology section is huge and there are books on just about anything. My biggest piece of advice is this: don’t limit yourself to the literature on your module reading lists. The library is a treasure chest of exciting and interesting content and there is always more to learn. Have a wander around the floors and make a note of any room numbers that look particularly good for studying. The third floor is the only silent floor and is peaceful in the evening time (they dim the lights at around 6pm every night). All seminar/group rooms in the library can be booked by students; these are especially useful for group projects and meetings. To book a room, visit the Psychology Subject Site on Blackboard or click this link.
3. Ask questions
If you don’t understand something, if something is unclear, if you need extra information, or if you have a point to make about a certain topic, please speak up. This doesn’t necessarily mean sticking your hand up in the middle of a lecture (scary), but it could mean making use of the subject discussion board on Blackboard, using the social media pages, or emailing a lecturer. Most modules allow students to post anonymously on the discussion boards, and chances are, other students may have the same question.
4. Take a tour around Lincoln
Caramel lattes from Bunty’s Café got me through the majority of first year. Lincoln is different to other bigger universities because it is a very close-knit community. Generally, there is little need for taxis or public transport because everything is within walking distance. Journey up to the top of Steep Hill and explore the streets off the beaten track in Lincoln. There are bars and coffee shops and lots of comfortable places to start tackling an essay or reading for a module. Because of Lincoln’s small size, it can be tempting to stay only within a stone’s throw of the university, but there is a lot to explore beyond the high street and the campus. Hartsholme Park is great if you fancy a walk to de-stress around exam time and there are nice boutique shops off the streets of Steep Hill.
5. Join the BPS
The Chair of the BPS Student Committee (who is a current undergraduate at Lincoln!) encourages first years to join the BPS. She says “membership of the BPS allows students to gain some real-world perspective to the course. It also offers a sense of community. We have some exciting events coming up, including a fresher’s BPS pizza party and a ‘beyond the lecture theatre’ events series. The BPS student magazine PsychTalk allows students to put pen to paper and write about their own opinion of psychology. The Psychologist magazine is a monthly publication which discusses the most up to date psychological news (and the BPS Research Digest keeps you up to date with newest research findings). Events are nationwide and allow students to think about what being a psychologist really means.