Case study

Postgraduate student — Maddy Bourne

Maddy studied History at the University of Leicester before pursuing a postgraduate qualification in Human Resource Management and Training. Find out how COVID-19 has impacted her studies

When lockdown was announced how did you feel about studying from home?

Before restrictions were announced I made the decision to move back to my family home because I was worried about being alone during lockdown.

It left me feeling apprehensive about studying from home, as I worried about the amount of support I would receive from the university in conducting my research project. I was anxious that I would no longer be able to collect the necessary data but I managed to to this online via Microsoft Teams, although it was difficult to encourage participation due to circumstances caused by the pandemic.

Despite my worries, I have been fortunate to receive lots of support from my dissertation supervisor.

How many study hours have you been putting in per day?

On weekdays I follow a study plan and usually do around six to eight hours, including short breaks.

On weekends I have one day off and on the other I usually plan what I will do next week.

How have you organised your time to ensure you meet deadlines?

I use a study diary to manage my time, record the work I've done each day, and set what needs to be done in the future.

I also use Gantt charts to manage my time and create realistic action plans. In addition, I find scheduling calendars such as Microsoft Teams helpful as you can set event reminders.

How are you accessing university resources?

I've been using the University of Leicester Online Library to complete my research project from home. It's possible to request resources by filling in an online form and the university then sends you an online copy of the material.

I've also used the careers service, which is great because they have lots of online resources to help with CVs, cover letters, interviews, assessment centres and much more. They provide telephone or video calls and have always been helpful. The careers service is also available after you graduate and I will definitely be seeking advice when I start my job hunt in October.

What are the benefits of studying at home?

Fewer social distractions have made it easier to concentrate on university work. I've also had more time to think about my career and the skills I want to develop after completing my postgraduate degree.

Studying at home has also reinforced how much I enjoy teamworking. Although I think remote working is great, I am excited to work collaboratively in person.

What are the challenges?

These include feeling isolated from my coursemates, friends, lecturers and colleagues.

I also miss face-to-face lectures and workshops, which were replaced by online resources in the form of presentation slides. This left me feeling I lacked vital knowledge and disappointed that I wouldn't get the full experience I signed up for.

The biggest challenge has been remaining motivated, because I feel I have become less optimistic about my future career prospects. I still remain excited to start a career in HR, but I feel anxious to enter the labour market at such an unprecedented time, particularly when research is suggesting under 25's will be the hardest hit with youth unemployment rising dramatically.

What impact has studying at home had on your university experience?

I have felt somewhat disconnected from university during this pandemic. The virus has impacted my learning, as online education cannot replace in-person teaching. I learn best through interactive methods and teamworking and this is hard to achieve in large groups online.

However, I have tried to make the best of the situation and use the resources I have to my advantage. The pandemic has, in some ways, made me more resourceful and independent because I have had to use what is available and be decisive in making decisions alone.

What are your top tips for studying at home?

  • Have a designated workspace with good lighting - this helps me to stay motivated and avoid getting headaches and/or tired.
  • Have a study routine with structure including breaks to reduce stress.
  • Keep a study diary - this allows me to stay organised and meet deadlines.
  • Seek support - look to others such as tutors, friends or family for help if you're struggling.
  • Reward yourself - plan time-off from studying and use it effectively. I recently read an article about how rest-time is only effective if you have withdrawn entirely from working. Managing my workload means I don't have to spend my rest time stressing about studying.

What are your plans for the future and how positive do you feel about them?

I finish my postgraduate degree in September and will use resources like the university careers service to start planning my next steps.

My plan, before the pandemic, was to secure a role in HR on a 2021 graduate scheme and look for a temporary job or internship as a HR assistant in the meantime. Before the pandemic I felt this plan was realistic but I feel less positive about it now because I know the labour market is highly competitive at the moment. However, I have confidence in my knowledge, skills and abilities. I know with determination and hard work I will achieve my future career goals.

Want to share your story?

Get in touch by emailing editorial@prospects.ac.uk to tell us about what you've been up to or how you've coped during the pandemic. Have you studied from home? Completed virtual work experience? Volunteered? Started your job hunt? If so we'd like to hear from you.

Find out more

How would you rate this page?

On a scale where 1 is dislike and 5 is like

success feedback

Thank you for rating the page