Tathagata Saha, BSc Mathematics and Statistics, discusses his own experience at the School of Mathematical Sciences at Queen Mary University of London. He explains the things he likes about his degree programme and how he was able to make the most out of blended learning the past year.
What are your top tips for students starting an undergraduate degree programme at the School of Maths at Queen Mary?
My top tips for starting an undergraduate degree programme would be firstly to relax. We sometimes get worried that it will be a massive leap from A-levels to university, but the lecturers here at the School of Maths go through the basics before the heavy content starts to appear. Another big thing to keep in mind is that you will be doing four modules at a time so it is best to make a plan of action of how you intend to study for each one of them. This can be in the form of a timetable where you space out the learning, discover your strengths and weaknesses and focus on what is needed. Ultimately, you have lecturers who are willing to help you out so make sure you ask them questions and visit them during their office hours. Finally, try to network with any second year or third year-students: not only will this build your networking skills needed for future employment but it can also provide invaluable advice for modules you are doing or even suggestions on what modules to pick depending on your interest.
What is good about your degree programme?
I study BSc Mathematics and Statistics and I like that my degree is very practical. It is also very applicable to real life: not only do you learn programming but some modules can teach you Excel, which you can get a certification in, R studio and also how to write a mathematical document which comes under Number, Sets and Functions. One of my favourite modules in my second year was Introduction to Computing which introduced us to Python. The lecturers crafted this module very well and taught us to a good standard, enabling us to complete the final project which was challenging but very engaging. Furthermore, it is a great addition to the CV, as it shows that you can code. Coding demonstrates that you have good problem-solving skills. One thing that you need to look out for is how to translate what you do in these modules into real-life skills. This can really make you stand out.
How can you make the most out of blended learning?
Blended learning has its benefits, one of them being that we had the privilege of having recorded lectures so we could view them at our own time and learn at our own pace. I recommend that students do not fall behind schedule as it can make you become complacent and it will be then tough to catch up. The transition from in-person to blended learning has been good and the office hours are online so you can still ask questions on what you are stuck on. My experience has been good: I make sure to get a good night’s sleep so that I can wake up early for the lectures and finish on time. Although in the past year we have missed out a bit on the social aspect of University, there were also plenty of in-person tutorials, which I went to, and studying in real-time is a different feeling as opposed to online. The only advice I would give to students is to never leave work to do at the last minute and make sure they make the most of their time and take regular breaks.