We're gearing up for the new term here in Cambridge. I'm on sabbatical leave this year (all year!) so it's not so bad for me. But I've been thinking about the new students coming up and what helpful advice they might need. I think I wish someone had explained to me how best to use a supervision and that it was perfectly OK for me to come along and try to steer the conversation how I wanted with my own questions, difficulties and the like. I think I was far too passive and may have lost out on the opportunity to set straight things in my mind that I really didn't understand. I had probably also fudged those things in the essay because I thought it important not to seem as if there was anything I didn't quite follow. Now, I quite like it if a student tries really hard to sort something out, writes the best essay they can, and leaves a note at the end or puts in a footnote: 'Is this right? I don't think I understand xxxx because if it means yyyy then surely.... Can we talk about this at the supervision?' It makes the supervision easier, because I know what to talk about, and I can be more confident that we are actually talking about something that will help the student when they come to look again at the topic later in the year. I suppose I still thought that the essays were submitted mostly to be graded and handed back.
So, over to you: what do you wish you had been told (and/or took notice of) when you were a new undergraduate?