Tuesday, 18 August 2015

13. Consultation

Consultation is probably the one thing that we students rarely feel motivated to do. I've observed it, I’ve experienced it. I could think of a couple of reasons why this is the case.
These were my reasons for not consulting during my first attempt of final year:
1.         "I'll understand everything when I study, I'll be fine."
2.        "I have too many questions - there's so much that I don't understand. Where do I start?"
3.        "Most of the consultation times are during lecture times anyway; and the free periods are very short - I don't want to 'fry' my brain before the next class".

1. "I'll understand everything when I study, I'll be fine"

This attitude, without a doubt, is one of the things that contributed to me repeating final year. It made me realise how much I undermined the complexity and length of chapters; how I had undermined the amount of time it would take for me to understand the chapters on my own. It is one of the reasons that made me realise the importance of making use of those 4/5 hours spent in lectures as much as possible. It also made me see the benefit of consulting - which I share below.

2. "I have too many questions - there's so much that I don't understand. Where do I start?"

I did not necessarily understand everything, which is why I had questions before classes (from pre-reading), during classes, and after classes (from post-reading and attempting questions).
As much I knew that I could ask questions during classes, I had acknowledged the fact that I could not hold back the class for ALL my questions to be answered - the lecturers still need to complete their lecture on the relevant topic.
I had also realised that most of the time, I could not get answers to all my questions on my own through studying- and sometimes when I did look for answers to my questions through studying, it took too long. This is why I felt it was important for me to get my questions answered, as many as I can, by asking at least a few of the questions during class when the lecturer covers a principle to which my questions relate, and by consulting.
When I started consulting, I realised that tutors and lecturers simplify the concepts/principles to which my questions relate; and help clear uncertainties. Some students also made use of the few minutes after class to ask the lecturer at least one question, and they motivated me to do so, too. It also helped to ask other fellow students.

3. "Most of the consultation times are during lecture times anyway; and the free periods are very short - I don't want to 'fry' my brain before the next class".

The availability of lecturers/tutors for consultation was limited; and some consultation times clashed with lectures. I figured that I had to make the most of the consultation hours available whenever I could.
Every week, I had 1 hour or 2 hours free between lectures. There were various things I could do with that time:
  • Consult whichever lecturer is available
  • Prepare for the next class - especially if my pre-reading was not enough/complete
  • Study
  • Administrative things - printing slides, checking and responding to emails, etc. 
  • Chill
There are probably more options; but I believe it becomes a matter of prioritizing - doing whatever is urgent at that time; or doing whatever is more convenient to do.
On a personal note, consultation became first priority during free periods, especially because consultation hours were limited. I had the mentality that if I did not consult as soon as I could, I would end up not consulting at all, which could mean procrastinating my understanding of the principles/concepts, which might catch up with me when I prepare for tests and exams. I also was fortunate for being familiar with lecturers and tutors, to the extent that they made appointments with me to meet outside consultation times; because they saw how keen I was to consulting. That is something to consider as well if consultation times are limited. It’s not something to always count on, though.
Pros and Cons of consultation
As mentioned earlier, the benefit I found in consulting is that concepts/principles may be simplified, uncertainties clarified, and that one may become familiar with lecturers and tutors, to the extent that they may accommodate for consultation outside normal consultation times. The unfortunate thing about consultation, which I had experienced, was finding many other students lined up to consult and ending up not having the opportunity to consult; or finding out that the lecturer/tutor is not available.

Considering the fact that there are many students studying towards the same thing as we do, other students may have a better understanding of the principles/concepts - they may be able to help clarify uncertainties. Students who are at a higher level than us within the same programme, for example 3rd year students while we are in 2nd year, may help, too.

What do you think about consultation - consulting lecturers, tutors or even other students? What are your reasons for not wanting to consult? Be sure to share your thoughts and experience on this topic on the comments section below. You can also follow the blog on twitter: https://twitter.com/student_blog and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Student-talk-blog-For-learners-and-students-496094020519505/

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. Until next time :).


  1. Really enjoy reading these articles...way to go Sim!!!

    1. :). I'm glad. Don't be shy to share your experiences and solutions that work for you that you may have discovered; or other challenges. I learn from you guys as well.