Starting the new term, I realise there are some things I wish I had done differently from the beginning of my degree at LSE. Here’s the list – learn from my mistakes and be wiser from the start.
1. Be smart about what you invest your time in
If the topic isn’t “yours”, sticking to the three essential pieces on the reading list is enough. We’ve all been there – sometimes, the topics are not just that interesting to us. Be prepared for the classes and give the topic a chance, but don’t force yourself if it’s not your cup of tea. If you don’t like it at the moment, you probably won’t work on it in the future in any meaningful way.
However, do read more widely if something interests you. You never know when an idea for your dissertation will strike you.
2. Read economically
Economic reading is perhaps the most crucial skill you have to develop throughout your degree. There’s usually no use in reading the whole piece. You have to be smart about and recognise what matters. Search for arguments, key case studies and interesting insights.
This will become especially helpful when you will be preparing for your extended essays and dissertation.
3. Formative assessment is for you – take it seriously but don’t worry too much
In the first term, formative assessments can seem daunting. In reality, they are there for you to make the most of them. That is, they don’t count towards your final mark, but your professors will provide you with detailed feedback and an indicative mark so that you know where you’re standing. Therefore, it’s worth to make an effort without stressing too much about the outcome – think of it as a trial run which will prepare you for the summatives.
4. Attend more public events and career events
Remember that LSE is about so much more than just classes.
Starting university can be a bit overwhelming – you suddenly have to adjust to a new environment, attend lectures and seminars, meet several deadlines – but don’t let this stop you from enjoying the extracurricular side of LSE. The School offers an extensive programme of public events and LSE Careers organises events throughout the year to prepare students for the job market.
Indeed, in my opinion the excellent offer of these is actually one of the best things about LSE. Take the most of it, especially as a postgraduate student. The events offer an exceptional chance to meet some of the most important names in contemporary academia and politics, network with alumni, explore interesting topics and kickstart your career.
5. Explore alternative commute routes
On the slightly more practical side of things… Maps on your smartphone probably suggest the most efficient commute in given circumstances but frankly, the London public transport system is so complex that you might discover some interesting alternatives.
Going to Holborn station as opposed to Temple brings you much closer to the New Academic Building, but if you have a lecture in the Centre Building, it might be better to go to the latter Lesson: pay attention to which building your classes are in and make use of the vast transport network serving central London.