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FIRST CLASS

Find PBMIF on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube for useful tips and facts in consumer and fashion psychology.


It has been five months since my friend Ash graduated from her Bachelors in Psychology (with Education). I met up with her at her local café in Manchester to ask how she gained a first. Yes, she is residing in Manchester now after expressing her hunger for a change in scenery, one that is less “bos-lin” (bustling) she giggles. As we have a chat about our lack of knowledge on the FA Cup (a bar across from us was airing a match between Chelsea and Liverpool), two large iced lattes are placed on our table. The café serves American-inspired cuisine—and the sun is directly in my face—we move to a table at the back—the weather is surprisingly nice for an evening in mid May.



JH: I wanted to start off and ask—what are you wearing since this is a fashion magazine?


AS: Oh right. I'm wearing my Veja V-12 Marsala Nautico Leather shoes gifted to me by my sister. An En Route necklace and ring. And a Levi's denim jumpsuit.


JH: I just wanted to say well done, it must feel great to finally finish your degree after the past few hectic years. What are you up to now?


AS: Thank you! I know right, uni was all over the place last year but it's all done now, thankfully. I'm working in a primary school at the moment and I love it. You're not going to get your dream job straight away after you graduate, so don't fret about it.


JH: How did lockdown affect you?


AS: It was pretty tough adjusting to online study. But not having to travel to uni was refreshing because it gave me time to do other things. I was kind of sad at first but then I got used to a different lifestyle. I don't think working from home is a bad idea at all and it's made me appreciate just being in the moment.


JH: What would you say to students studying from home?


AS: I would say that studying from home and being physically at uni are not entirely different. Since psychology is mostly independent study you can be by yourself writing essays and reading most of the time. If you're only online at the moment and you live on your laptop, it would be a good idea to get a laptop stand and a separate keyboard and mouse to reduce strain on your eyes, wrists, and neck. My laptop stand actually helped me so much—it really encouraged me to be at my laptop. It's also super important to get up and move every 30 minutes. Another thing is, make sure that your software is updated whether it be Teams, Zoom, or SPSS. If you have any questions or you don't get something, it's really important that you let your lecturer, tutor, or uni know because leaving it last minute can make you feel lost and helpless.


If you have any questions or you don't get something, it's really important that you let your lecturer, tutor, or uni know because leaving it last minute can make you feel lost and helpless.

JH: What would you say is most important for a student?


AS: Out of all? Sleep. Yes, sleep is so important. If you're sleep deprived you're not going to concentrate well on anything. You're going to be grumpy, you're going to snap when you don't mean to. I know that it may not be easy for some people to sleep, but just getting a few good hours in can really improve your quality of life.


JH: And how can a student get some good sleep?


AS: As mean as it sounds, if you live in halls, you have to tell your roommates to shut up (politely) if they're being inconsiderate. First year was eye-opening for me as I got a taste of living with people that weren't my

Ten tips from a grad | Keep these tips in mind.

family. I had to wear earplugs because the halls next door to me would play loud music until 4AM every other night and my roommates would have an endless Riverdale marathon every Monday night which included lots of sighing... and pining.


JH: Speaking of Riverdale marathons, is procrastination something that you had to deal with?


AS: All the time. If I didn't procrastinate I would have achieved much more by now. I do regret procrastinating but I still procrastinate today. For me, I think I've always been like this. I'd leave my homework until the last minute. I'd walk to secondary school scribbling away in my notebook. I would say go on and procrastinate as much as you'd like. You know you'll feel bad, but you'll do it anyway. If I tell you to not procrastinate, what are you going to do? Just do whatever gets you through, but just know that your work isn't going to write itself.


JH: Hard truth. I wasn't expecting you to advise procrastination.


AS: I'm really passionate about routines—I don't mean getting up at 6AM on the dot and making yourself a green juice. What I mean is that you shouldn't be studying, working, or doing something university related 24/7. Make some time for yourself. You don't need to follow routines that are currently trending on TikTok—just do what's right for you. You can't always be work, work, work all up in your head. It's going to take a toll on you at some point. This goes for your future career as well. Find something that takes you away for a bit such as a good game, exercise, going for walks, cooking, reading, whatever you like. Consistent and steady progress is what worked for me—I would set aside a couple of hours a day just to focus on assignments and prep work for seminars.









JH: I totally agree. Where did you spend the most time at uni?


AS: Honestly, it's turning into a blur. I remember being in my room a lot. Or I would be on the bus. I also remember being in open spaces seated around uni—on my laptop—before lockdown. I'd pick a nice spot by a window to sit and enjoy the view whilst typing away. I was alone most of the time—everyone had their own thing going on. I rarely visited the library—maybe just to print something occasionally. One thing I would say is to have a good place to study, one where you can concentrate, especially when you have limited time. This should not be your bed, sit at a real desk, otherwise you'll want to get under the covers, rest your head on the nice fluffy pillow, take your phone off the bedside table... start scrolling through Instagram... eyelids are getting heavy. You see where I'm going with this.


Sit at a real desk, otherwise you'll want to get under the covers, rest your head on the nice fluffy pillow, take your phone off the bedside table... Start scrolling through Instagram... Eyelids are getting heavy. You see where I'm going with this.

JH: You don't mention spending time at lectures?!


AS: I didn't realise! I actually didn't spend much time in in-person lectures because we didn't have many and they were short. But they were super helpful to meet your lecturers and other people in your class. When the whole lockdown fiasco happened, no one really contributed to lessons, you'd just be looking at a screen of mini people icons. I had lots of prep work and reading though which covered mostly everything in the syllabus. This is what I meant when I was alone most of the time.


JH: You missed out on a lot. You mention that it was super helpful to be physically in a lecture. Could you share a little more on that?


AS: Lectures are important no matter how you attend it, online or offline. If you don't attend any of your lectures at all—you're not getting what you paid for and you're not learning. It's as simple as that. Somehow when you attend your classes a bit of knowledge manages to absorb in your brain whether you're paying attention or not. Attending your classes gives you a chance to meet your peers who you might study with, do presentations and group work with, etc. They're most likely in the same boat as you—make a group chat with them or at least make a little effort to get to know them. If you really struggle and get bored with your lectures, take modules that you're interested in, otherwise you'll sit in your 9AM class one day and think to yourself, "Why did I take this module? I could be sleeping in right now...". You can also ask your tutors questions and some may even hint what exactly they're looking for in your work. If you're worried about looking like you have no friends, at the end of the day, you're there for you. Got a question, ask it. If you have recorded lectures and you're playing them on 2x speed it's totally acceptable and works wonders. If it's up then it's stuck? In the context of memory that is…


JH: I see, you're paying to be there so you might as well use it to your full advantage. How did you manage your expenses?


AS: I applied for a student loan and used that for uni expenses only. I had a part-time job so I used that to cover food and clothes. I'm not that much of a big spender. When you're studying psychology, in the words of most of my lecturers, you shouldn't be buying or really using books (maybe only for definitions). You should be using peer-reviewed journal articles to show your understanding of up to date research. Your university should have an online database with access to psychology/science journal libraries (such as Frontiers, SAGE, JSTOR, Taylor & Francis, and ScienceDirect, just to name a few). Any search engine is your friend though—PDF files can readily be found online (antivirus software advised). When searching for a journal article it's all about the use of relevant keywords. For instance, let's say you want to write an essay on fruit preference and the personality of young adults (because that's all I can think of at the moment), you would type into the search bar: fruit personality psychology journal article or even fruit big five journal article. You can use filters to screen out languages and years (2013-2022 and unpublished articles hit the sweet spot).


Any search engine is your friend though—PDF files can readily be found online (antivirus software is advised).

JH: It's one thing to know how to search for journal articles, but another to know how to read them. How many articles have you say... read through over your three year course?


AS: A psychology degree involves lots of reading. I would say that I downloaded around 20-30 articles for each essay then checked if I had full access to them, they were recent, and that they were peer-reviewed. Once I made these checks—I would be left with 15-20 articles that I could use for definitions, comparing research, and to search for further references. It's also enough to show your marker that you've done some reading—which means you've put in some effort. Because it's so much reading, it's important that you know the basic layout of a published Psychology journal article; it usually comprises of an abstract, introduction, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion, and references. Never copy articles word for word because it will flag up on your university's plagiarism detection software. Plagiarism is bad and a big no-no. A helpful tip to search through articles is to use the find shortcut on your keyboard "ctrl/cmd-f". Organisation is also important here, you can create a new folder for each module and assignment—and then stick your articles in them.






JH: Psychology uses the APA layout, so it's super important that you know the right version to use.


AS: Yes, it is super important that you use the correct version of the APA format because there are a lot of differences between each version. APA format is the layout that psychology students and researchers use for their research papers in the UK, this includes the reference layout. APA 7 is probably what you should be using now. I used 6 because when I started uni 7 wasn't really used yet. You should save a template of the APA 7 format so that you can refer to it. This includes references, citations, headings, font, font size, where your page numbers should be, tense, headers, footers, quotes, things like that. Saving a template will save you from having to type in the same thing over and over. Correct layout, grammar, and spelling accounted for 10 per cent of my final grade so it makes a huge difference. The content of your work can be a little crap, but at least it's spelled correctly. Speaking of what contributes towards your grade, you have to know how your modules are graded and what grade you're at (so you know how many marks you should be aiming for). Know what your assignment, coursework, etc. is asking from you—this should be outlined on your module guide. This is what your lecturer is going to mark you on.


Correct layout, grammar, and spelling accounted for 10 per cent of my final grade so it makes a huge difference. The content of your work can be a little crap, but at least it's spelled correctly.

JH: Any tips on finalising a piece of coursework?


AS: I would say make sure that you've read through your work twice fully a few days before it's due. It's really easy to misspell something or type words twice. Tweak your Word settings to detect incorrect grammar. I've seen lots of students get caught out because they didn't know how to upload their work correctly. I used Turnitin, it's one of those websites where multiple lecturers (admins) dip in and out and change things around. Make sure you're enrolled to the module you're doing, you know when your assignment is due, and if you're allowed to resubmit preferably 24 hours before your assignment is due (not 24 minutes). This is in case you want to change something. Time is one of your greatest tools.


JH: Have you ever gotten a grade you didn't like? What came out of it?


AS: Yes, a couple of times. We had a reflection piece of coursework we had to do every year and my grade never improved. I let it go though. I used the feedback and all but it didn't improve my work. Feedback is given for a reason, so it's wise to use it. You're not going to be happy with your grades all the time—and it's not always your fault. If you're really not happy with a grade, it's probably best to ask your lecturer to go through your work with you—book a meeting with them. Emails can get you places, and sometimes not. It used to happen quite a lot where you would ask a lecturer two questions and they would end up not answering your questions at all! The lecturers at my university used to get anno—can I say that?


JH: Yes, that's great, go on.


AS: Yeah, they used to get annoyed when students would send them an email stating something like, "hi nic, what do you mean by asdgdsrgsrsrgwhdt. thanks. g." No name, an inappropriate email address, no class name, no context. But when you send a nice and clear email, you may get the reply you're asking for, and your lecturers will also get to know you as a student. Keep it to the point. Writing emails is a great skill to have. Don't get stressed about writing emails though, lecturers get a lot of emails daily and genuinely don't look deep into what you wrote. If your email is urgent, don't forget to send it as high importance.


JH: How often did you ask for help from other students and your tutors?


AS: Quite a lot really. Just be careful not to share your work with others too much otherwise you'll end up writing the same thing! There's no shame at all in asking for help, we're all different with different abilities and skillsets. There used to be a poster in the university that said something like, "Ask a question and you're a fool for five minutes, don't ask and you're a fool for life". Also, don't be afraid to use your university's services. You matter. Sometimes you may need some help whether it be for career advice, counselling and wellbeing, general concerns, or academic assistance. Your library has many re-sources to offer such as books, articles, and quiet places to study when you want to be on your own. If you really can't find an article from your own university's database, you can ask your librarian for help. You can also join societies where you can meet other people that share your interests. You should've been assigned a personal tutor—they're meant to be there to help you with your progress at university.


There's no shame at all in asking for help, we're all different with different abilities and skillsets.

JH: Did you have any group assignments and how did it go for you?


AS: Honestly, I dreaded group assignments. I had one proper group presentation in first year but it didn't count towards my classification. It was a bit of a shambles because no one was answering their texts and we weren't prepared to present on the day. I'm quite go all in or nothing so I was bummed after we presented, but it was an alright grade in the end. There's always going to be someone in the group that does more and one that does less. That's just how it is. You might have to pick up the slack for others, but don't get taken advantage of, because you'll get burned out.


JH: You talk about uploading assignments and presentations - Did you ever have any written exams in a hall?


AS: If you have a timed written exam, I'm sorry to hear that. I loathed exams, I never saw the point in them. You can have all of the expertise in a subject area but completely lose yourself on the day and forget everything. One way I used to prepare for exams is literally to write them out and memorise them. This is good if you know the questions beforehand. I knew what I was going to write and how long it took. Draft your exam on your word processor of choice, make sure it's good enough for your liking, then make sure it can be written in a set amount of time. Then number the each line. Your job is to then memorise the exam line by line. You shouldn't really be asked for references—that's mean. Oh, and remember how to read an analog clock.


JH: Did you study psychology before your degree?


AS: Yes I did, it was a big help, but psychology is quite a wide subject so you're never going to fully experience psychology for what it is. You just need to know the basics and how to be critical. One thing my psychology teacher taught us in sixth form is the acronym GRAVE. It's used for critiquing articles and it stands for generalisability, reliability, applicability, validity, and ethics. If you're new to psychology it's pretty simple to use. Generalisability - Is this research generalisable in terms of its methodology and/or its findings, or is it only applicable to one or few populations? Reliability - Is the method used reliable? Are the findings similar to other studies? Are any measures used measuring what is intended to be measured? How well is the study replicated? Applicability - Has the research findings been implemented in the 'real world'? (Education, healthcare, policies, etc.). Validity - Here we're talking control measures, extraneous variables, order effects, demand characteristics; things that could have an effect on the DV. Ethics - Think about confidentiality, deception, (informed) consent, debrief, withdrawal, and protection. Ethics is super important when it comes to designing studies - you will have to prove your understanding of ethics when planning your own dissertation.


JH: What would you advise students who have never done psychology in their life?


AS: Don't be afraid of SPSS—a statistics software that you will definitely use more than a couple of times in research methods. To tell you the truth, I love SPSS but that's because I'm done with it. The software is pretty minimal but using it for the first time can be a little daunting. The best thing to do is to make everything as simple as possible. Make little guides that you can refer to. Take each type of data - name it - give an example (e.g., nominal data = Flavours of ice cream). Take each research design - name it - give an example - write the procedure. Take each statistical test - name it - give an example - write the procedure. See where I'm headed? Some really handy books (PDF files of earlier versions can be found online) are: Dancey and Reidy - Statistics Without Maths for Psychology, and Howitt and Cramer - Research Methods in Psychology. YouTube has many useful tutorials as well. When it comes to planning your dissertation keep in mind whether you're more comfortable doing qualitative or quantitative research.


The best thing to do is to make everything as simple as possible.

JH: Summer is here.


AS: Yes.


JH: What should a psychology student do during summer?


AS: It would be a good idea for you to gain some experience—in anything you want to do. You can do this by applying for internships or volunteering. Even a few hours can make a big difference to your CV. Just make sure that you apply early. It's easier said than done though, it can be competitive and that sucks considering all the things going on at the moment. Ask your university's career service for advice and if there are any companies in your area that offer internships.


JH: Takeaway messages to sum up the uni experience?


AS: Do your best. Just do your best, that's all. It's your degree at the end of the day. If you know that you did your best then you can't kick yourself in the bum after... And sometimes you just need realise things. If you have to deactivate your socials, do it. If you have to put your hand on the window of the bus, and gaze longingly at passing cars as you listen to ballads through your airpods, fine. Time at university goes by quickly and spending 10ish hours of your time on a piece of work you'll never have to do again is pretty great if you ask me... Can I add one more?


It's your degree at the end of the day. If you know that you did your best then you can't kick yourself in the bum after...

JH: Go ahead.


AS: Save your work in at least two places whether it be a USB, your email, your laptop, or an external hard drive. My sister lost her work once. You never know when you can lose your work—and it can be really disheartening if it happens. Good luck everyone!




IF YOU'RE FEELING OVERWHELMED OR WOULD LIKE SOME ADVICE, SPEAK TO YOUR UNIVERSITY'S WELLBEING SERVICE, THEY'RE THERE FOR YOU.


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