At university you will meet some incredible people, from all over the world and from all walks of life. University is a time when you can collaborate with others; you’ll learn from them and you’ll also learn about how to work with others. Everyone, regardless of their experience is continually learning every day about how to collaborate effectively, but here are some tips for your first few weeks at university.
Different personalities, experiences and approaches bring so much to a group. With these differences come lots of new ideas and ways of working. Take time to celebrate alternative opinions from your own. Take time to explore how you might be able to learn from others, and what you can teach them too.
Shannon (Second Year BSc Sports Therapy) “Within your course students will have come from all over the world and from different educational backgrounds. You can learn so much from your course mates, such as different topics they may have covered in their previous learning that you haven’t or how your desired profession is viewed and practised in other countries.”
When working in a group, it’s important to set boundaries at the start of your time together. You might want to ask the following questions to your peers, so that you can map out your working time together effectively:
When do you all work most effectively?
Are there time commitments you have that we can work around?
There will undoubtedly be times where plans change. The most effective groups are those where members feel that they can communicate freely with each other. This means that groups can adapt to each other’s lifestyles, while still reaching common goals and deadlines.
Olivia (Final Year BSc Forensic Science and Criminal Investigation) “Everyone on your course is in the same position, no one is an expert in the subject, other than your lecturers and they aren’t here to judge you. They will try to guide you in the right direction. Take part in all group work or tutorials as you will get more out of it than you think. You will end up helping each other and gain confidence from talking to others.”
As you start your course, you may find that you need to contact an academic or peers you are working with by email. When you do so, it is important to respect some general etiquette guidelines:
Leave enough time to receive a response – it’s unlikely you’ll receive an immediate reply to an email as everyone has commitments to work around.
Consider the timing of your emails – is it better to wait until morning rather than send something at 10 o’clock in the evening?
Remember that using email provides a basic level of formality, while instant messaging (even through Microsoft Teams) may be a little informal, or important messages may even get missed. The preference for emails versus messaging will likely be made clear to you from tutor to tutor.
Address your emails (e.g. Dear…/Hi...) and sign off with your name (e.g. Best regards,… / Thanks, …) so that there is clarity about the intended recipient and sender, in case messages are forwarded on to others.
Use the BBC (blind carbon copy) function when emailing multiple people who have not given their express permission to have their email addresses visible to others. There’s nothing worse than being added into a group email of 20 other people who you don’t know and don’t need to receive messages from. On that note, avoid ‘reply all’ unless truly necessary.