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I'm scared of my essay, can somebody help e GET A GRIP??

(43 Posts)
HamblesHandbag Fri 10-Feb-12 12:19:39

Long story short:

I finished my course (PGDip) last summer. And shortly afterwards received the certificate, Whoop! Applied for jobs.

It turns out that this was an administration error and I hadn't actually passed and I'm not qualified as X.

I failed two essays from my last work-based placement and they need completely re-writing. I cried for a fortnight - DEVASTATED/MORTIFIED/EMBARRASSED. Then ignored the work until "after Christmas".

I've NEVER failed anything before and average marks are mid 60s (ranging from 50s-70s).

However, now I'm not in the workplace or in lectures, I feel lost and scared of my essays. They sit growling at me from my desk. Most days I fanny around avoiding them. WHY??

This is so important if I want a career in X. angry <<------at myself.

I recently found out that I'm very pregnant (literally, a whole other thread) and that was a good excuse to be distracted from The Essays.

When I sit down to write, I'm struggling to remember the theories/approaches/crits. I've lost my academic voice. I hate it and I'm not interested.

Please can somebody offer me some advice on how to kick my arse and get it done? I feel lost and on my own. I'm no longer in uni/placement so have no tutor/supervisor anymore and I'm drifting...

SarkyWench Fri 10-Feb-12 12:28:28

Have you done the reading?

If so take all your notes, shut yourself in a room and do it as if it were a timed/exam essay. No more than 90 mins.

The come back to it a day or two later and tidy it up.

You just need to get it done smile

(If you haven't done the reading recetly then forget about the essay itself and just concentrate on getting som enotes together so that you can do all the above in a week or so.)

Now get off MN and go and do what you have been told smile

DougalDaydream Fri 10-Feb-12 12:30:49

You poor thing. I can imagine how devastated you feel after receiving your certificate!

As you say, you need to get this done to continue your career, so could you divide the work into much smaller chunks and draw yourself up a timetable? Set small targets that you need to achieve each day. Maybe begin with reading around the topics to refresh your knowledge. It's no wonder things have slipped from your mind when you've had so much else going on with the pregnancy - but it's all still there, you just need to tap back into it.

Is your partner supportive? Maybe get him on board and just have a brief evaluation at the end of each day about what you've achieved and what your next target is - anything to help keep you focussed. Just tell yourself you're going to get it done and out of the way so that you can continue with your career and enjoy your pregnancy in peace.

Good luck x

HamblesHandbag Fri 10-Feb-12 13:07:06

Thank you both for your replies.

Have I done the reading? er... Good question! I think I've just been trying to wing it and write from what I know, searching out a relevant article from online articles to chuck in where necessary. hmm that's not good enough is it?

Small targets may be the way forward too as I just feel overwhelmed.

Ok, so I think I need to step back from what I've written and look at what extra reading I need to do.

That is my first goal: Identify which theories I need to include, with critiques.

Yes Dp is supportive, but when he asks me how it's going I fob him off or stick my fingers in my ears singing "lalala" hmm

Yes, I want this gone so I cen be a big beached whale in peace smile

HamblesHandbag Fri 10-Feb-12 13:07:56

And I WILL start that first goal, just as soon as I finish this fish finger butty...

DamselInDisarray Fri 10-Feb-12 13:16:14

Why aren't the university giving you more support? And how exactly did they manage to award you the certificate and allow you to graduate (even in absentia) without meeting the requirements for the award? Just how? The module leader for the assessments you failed must have known you hadn't passed, the exam board must have known. Didn't they return any marks and feedback at the time?

Kick up a fuss at the university. You are entitled to support while you resit your assessment. No wonder you are so motivated. Do you have detailed feedback telling you what you need to do to pass this time?

DamselInDisarray Fri 10-Feb-12 13:17:14

Demotivated not motivated. I'd be demotivated if a university awarded me a degree and then said, 'actually, no. We made a mistake'.

Someone (possibly several people) at the university deserve a bollocking.

DougalDaydream Fri 10-Feb-12 13:21:26

Well said Damsel.

crystalglasses Fri 10-Feb-12 13:24:34

I agree with damselindistress. This is really not good enough. The university has made a huge error and the least it could do is provide you with some support in getting these essays written. Did you get any detailed feedback about your submissions and how to improve what you've written? I would go back to the university and ask for some support and mentoring. I can't imagine that it would need to be more than an hour or two of a supervisor's time

How long are the essays meant to be? There may well be a deadline and you need to know what it is and maybe get an extension if your pregnancy is likely to interfere with it.

HamblesHandbag Fri 10-Feb-12 13:26:05

Damsel, that is a good point about lack of support.

I was moving house around that time and so I wasn't great at keeping up with uni details and correspondance in general at the time. I later found out that my uni e-mail account was still active and found an e-mail that was 2 months old saying I hadn't passed and including feedback.

I corresponded with the course leader and the placement co-ordinator, neither of which were concerned about my position and just said, "you need to rewrite these two pieces of work".

I have had no contact from university since I picked up my work in November. I have no deadline. just ASAP.

steviesmith Fri 10-Feb-12 13:26:27

It's absolutely scandalous that this happened. You need to complain and complain and complain. The university has to review its processes. I've worked in several universities, none of which were a model of efficiency and there is no way this would have happened. I agree with Damsell your university needs to give you as much support as you need to help you pass your essays.

HamblesHandbag Fri 10-Feb-12 13:27:04

Right, I'm going to e-mail the course leader and ask for some support... I'm proper scared of her!

DamselInDisarray Fri 10-Feb-12 13:30:50

If you want more support, ask for it. I cannot image how they could possibly say no (particularly given their absolutely stupefying incompetence in awarding you a degree and then taking it back).

How detailed is the feedback? Does it tell you exactly what is needed in order to pass (it should?) You should also still have access to the university library facilities, so you can access literature with which to write the essay. If you aren't, kick up a fuss and make sure that you get it. They should be doing everything they can to support you here (and I can imagine that the staff involved really don't want anyone higher up in the university finding out too much about this, as it is a monumental fuck up).

belgo Fri 10-Feb-12 13:30:58

Oh no! How awful for you!

Sue the bastards!

Apart from that, what subject are your studying? If it was a teaching/health professional course that could have had a major impact on your insurance if you had started working. It really is a major mistake from the Uni.

Insist they give you all the help they need.

DamselInDisarray Fri 10-Feb-12 13:31:32

I'd imagine she's way more scared of you right now. Honestly, she could be in so much trouble over this.

belgo Fri 10-Feb-12 13:31:57

And ask for detailed feedback the essays that you failed, and ask how exactly you can improve upon them.

HamblesHandbag Fri 10-Feb-12 13:36:52

Yes, I have detailed feedback. Basically, my essays wer so WAAAAY off what was required, it's like I read the wrong instructions or something blush

But why did my work-based supervisor pass it?? (I knew she was incompetent) I'm dreading that they say, contact your work-based supervisor for support because of this; I don't trust that she knows what she is doing.

belgo Fri 10-Feb-12 13:40:50

Did you go to the graduation? Have you received the certificate? I just can't believe that they can retract it on the basis of two essays.

If they had evidence of wrongdoing, eg. plagiarism, then they could take your degree, but for just two essays?

Many courses make provision to allow one of two low marks and still award the diploma.

DamselInDisarray Fri 10-Feb-12 13:45:48

Your work based supervisor may have had nothing to do with marking your essays. What does the module handbook say about assessment and feedback? It should tell you in general terms who will be marking the assignments.

You need to make sure you have:
(a) a copy of the all the course assessment information, including the learning outcomes you're supposed to demonstrate in the tasks
(b) a copy of the marking sheet
(c) whatever feedback you've been given.

Then you can formulate a plan for how you are going to tackle the essay so that you (a) demonstrate the expected learning outcomes and (b) respond to the feedback you've been given. Then you can ask the module leader for feedback on that plan to check that you're on the right track.

I know revising thing is utterly dismal (and your module leader should too, as academic have to revise things all the time), but remember that this will help you in your career and that you only need to pass.

You should also consider putting in a formal complaint about the situation to the undergraduate office in your faculty. Most universities are inefficient, but they have systems in place to make sure things like this don't happen.

ThePinkPussycat Fri 10-Feb-12 13:54:11

What is the required word count for the essays? Can you say what they are about? Is it like applying theory to practice or something? <guesses>

HamblesHandbag Fri 10-Feb-12 13:55:33

Belgo, I didn't go to the graduation. I was qualifying sooner than other students on my course as I chose to finish at PGDip rather than Masters, so I wasn't sure of any graduation plans or whatever. I wasn't planning on going anyway (boring ceremony, expensive pictures!)

The essays that failed were about work I'd done on placement, and were not 'academically marked', but just a pass/fail if you've demonstrated certain competencies.

when I've looked at them again, I honestly think I've read last year's essay instructions rather than this year's as my essay bears no relation to what has been asked this year. A major error on my part!

My portfolio of work had to be read through and passed by my work-based supervisor, then double checked by the uni.

Thank you so much for all your advice - I have just sent an e-mail to uni, outlining my situation and requesting help. My heart is beating, I'm so nervous!

HamblesHandbag Fri 10-Feb-12 13:57:47

Word count is only 2000 per essay- should be a doddle compared to others I've written! I think part of the problem is that I'm not practicing anymore and feel like I'm leaching practice knowledge out my ears...

And yes, theory to practice (social work).

DamselInDisarray Fri 10-Feb-12 14:03:54

Even if you didn't actually turn up and swoosh around in a gown, they still allowed you to graduate when they shouldn't have. That's dreadful.

How did you even have access to the wrong assignment information in the first place? Students shouldn't even see previous years' assignment guidance (because they don't need to and it'll just confuse them).

And, even if your work based supervisor was incompetent, your assignments will still have to be checked and signed off by the module leader and the exam board (which includes an external examiner). Your module leader will be able to advise you and is obligated to, even if it relates to a work placement.

ThePinkPussycat Fri 10-Feb-12 14:06:18

Sit down with a brew, a pen and a piece of A4 paper. Spend 15 minutes remembering the time when you were on your placement - what the place looked like, who you met, any funny incidents, what you ate, how you got there, the first and last times you were there, anything at all - put some brief random jottings on the paper to capture your memories. If possible, remember it as if it was happening now.

This should start your memories 'uploading'. Do not think about the essay while doing the above.

crystalglasses Fri 10-Feb-12 14:11:59

If each essay is only 2000 words long, just concentrate on one essay at a time and make as detailed as possible outline of what it will include, using the feedback you received on your failed essays. Then get someone you trust (preferably a supervisor from your course)to comment on it. Once you've got some feedback, write the essay and ask for informal feedback on it from someone (the same or different person ) in the university.
Then tackle the second essay.

Although this is probably not how your university would want to proceed because it's 'spoonfeeding', under the circumstances they should be bending over backwards to help you pass.

You have every reason to ask for a different supervisor to help you as you've lost confidence in the one you had (you can tell them this and they should respect your reason)

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