You’ve all been here for at least a few months, and you’re all starting to adapt to life at Imperial, the long days, the growing burden of incomplete tutorial sheets and realisation that the LIVIC Editor is the sole person that keeps you going. It’s ok, I touch many people (not in that way you dirty soul!), and so it’s normal to feel an almost obsessive way about me. I frequently go off on tangents, I’ve been working hard to prevent myself from doing it but it’s hard work. Going from a Valentine’s Day meal to a hostage in the same evening is one of those tangents I’m looking to avoid. So where was I? Or where am I? Bloody hell it’s getting worse isn’t it? You’re at that stage where you’re actively tracking me down. Let me divert your attention to 3 things no one tells you about being at Imperial...
#3 You Are No Longer The Smartest Person
The majority of us come from schools where we were or were among the smartest people, but what happens when your throw all those smart people in to one lecture hall? You no longer are the brain box of the class. Sure, you might stand out in one module or another but not like you used to. No longer will you be able to answer the lecturers questions, nobody prepared you for this! So what do you do? Do you panic? Do you freak out and turn in to a studying machine?
No, you’re here for four years and four years only, make the most of it. Obviously your degree is your priority but if that’s all you do you’ll burn out way too quickly. It’s all about balance. Do some outside reading when you can, try and keep on top of tutorial sheets but also join a club or society doing something new or that you enjoy. Sure, it sucks not being the top dog anymore, now you have the opportunity to develop some new skills. You’re not a machine, soft skills are very important, and you can develop them outside of your degree. There’s over 300 clubs and societies at Imperial, if something doesn’t tickle your fancy then make your own one! There are no excuses now LIVIC addicts! Put yourself out there and write for LIVIC.
#2 Getting Perfect Scores Is No Longer A Requirement; It Isn’t Any Easier
100%? 90%? Do they sound like your target score? Well not anymore! 70% is what you need now; sure you can aim higher but at the end of the day anywhere between 70-100% and you are laughing! So what does this mean Peter? Can we just slack off and behave like Strand Polytechnic Undergraduates?
Hell no. Lecturers will go through a whole A Level in a lecture, and expect you to pick up the pieces. You didn’t learn Matrices at A Level? Tough, you’ll have one lecture to get your head around them and it’s up to you to get sharp. The level of content is a whole lot more than A Levels, so knowing everything inside out is very hard, you’ll have strong points and weak points in modules but it’s plausible to know the most of it. That’s not going to cut it though, much like you won’t be cutting burger buns in Burger King, leave that to the UCL Graduates. You need to understand what you’re learning because come exam season you’ll probably be asked a question you’ve never seen before and you’ll have to apply that understanding.
#1 Not Everyone Is Comfortable Working In A Team
Pre university you never really have to work in a team, maybe you’ll have to do some problems in a pair but you could get away with doing it yourself and not even having to interact with your partner. Put those days behind you because you’re going to have to do better than that. I don’t think a lot of people understand what it means to work in a team effectively, until you’ve been in a horrible team or an amazing team you have nothing to really draw a comparison to. I could write a book on what makes a bad team, there’s so many factors that come in to play. Maybe there’s the guy who doesn’t pull his weight, the guy who thinks he is always right or the person who is sold on an idea they’re not open to any suggestions. It sucks being in a crap team, sometimes you just have to suck it in and wait till the next project comes around.
So what makes a good team? Three things: Communication, teamwork (surprise surprise!) and not being an absolute douche bag. That last one is a challenge for most people, but work on the other two and it will be bearable. You’d be surprised how many people can’t work in a team at Imperial, something as simple as communicating and keeping people updated with your task. You’ve got the time to pictorially document every single meal you consume, why not just tell your team that you’re stuck on a task rather than sitting on your hands? The manner in which you communicate is vital as well, talking down on everyone and stroking your own ego will mean you’re getting an A* in CI1-013 Douchebaggery. Don’t be THAT guy, or girl, but the likelihood of that is 0.17.