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Student Olga Chatzigiannis

24 April 2020

Arts student Olga reveals how she stays motivated and prepares for exams

University life is experienced differently by every student, especially in light of current social distancing requirements, so it’s worth acknowledging that each student at Deakin will need to try different approaches for managing their studies and other commitments.

For an insight into how our Faculty of Arts and Education students are achieving success at Deakin, we spoke to student Olga Chatzigiannis who is in her fifth year of studying a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Criminology at the Burwood Campus.

What do you enjoy most about university?

I love the support Deakin offers! Academic support, networking opportunities via the Deakin employment expo, DeakinTALENT support through different workshops to make our applications stand out from other graduates, and preparing students for a life after graduation. I have also really enjoyed the support I received from the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) team. They were always there to support me, listen to my anxieties and refer me to as many placement opportunities as possible. 

What is the most difficult part of adjusting to studying online?

Self-motivation. When Deakin first transitioned all of our classes online, it was easier for me to push my course work aside. But now I’ve made a plan and stuck to it!

Any services or resources have you used on campus and how did they help? 

I have used assignment planners which really helped me to plan out my assignments, and Smarthinking to help me unpack a very difficult assignment.

How do you fit your study around the rest of your life? Do you have a routine?

I ask the following question each day: How do I spend my time? Then I write down a rough sketch of my daily routine and pay attention to how much time each task takes. Just so I don’t feel burnt out, I make sure to include in my schedule: work, study, must-do tasks, rest periods and any fun activities, such as my dance classes!

What are your top tips for preparing for exams?

Do as many practice questions as you can. Throughout my studies at Deakin I have learned one big thing: practice makes perfect! So, in my opinion, one of the most effective ways to prepare for exams is to take practice exams, weekly quiz questions and end of chapter questions. This helps you get used to the format of the questions, and – if you time yourself – can also be good practice for making sure you spend the right amount of time on each section.

How do you stay mentally, socially and physically well to juggle all the things in your schedule?

I make some time for myself. I will either talk to my friends over the phone, go for a small walk, or I will just take a moment to relax.

If you could change one thing about your university experience what would it be?

Getting involved with student placements. It took me a while (three years) to find out about the WIL team and DeakinTALENT. I wish I knew about these services from my very first day at Deakin.

Your biggest achievement in your study thus far?

The biggest achievement for me so far is being able to help other students through my various roles at Deakin. I started off as a volunteer mentor in the Peer Mentor program in the Faculty of Arts and Education where I have helped students have a smooth transition into university and make them aware of all the support services Deakin offers, which I didn’t know back then, when I was first year student. Now I am a Team Leader in the program and I really enjoy it! I am also a Writing Mentor, where I have been able to help students with academic writing. I come from a non-English speaking background and this has allowed me to empathise with international students regarding the difficulties of academic writing, homesick feelings and other struggles they are facing.

Anything else you’d like to share?

With online classes, it’s important that you keep a study schedule and stick to it. You need to have the right self-motivation to obtain good grades in the same way you would in a face-to-face class.

Connect with the Faculty of Arts and Education

We’re currently recruiting for Peer Mentors to support small groups of Arts and Education students during Trimester 2. If you have completed at least one year of study and want to help your fellow students succeed, we would love to hear from you!

You’ll meet lots of people, help your peers reach their potential, and your participation will also lend you valuable leadership experience to include on your resume. You can find out more about becoming a Peer Mentor in T2 on the Arts and Education site.

And remember you can stay connected with your faculty via the Arts and Education TwitterFacebook and Instagram channels.

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