Eight ways to maintain your integrity when getting your degree

Whether you’re heading to university straight from school or college or returning as a mature student, this article will discuss ways to maintain your integrity during university to help you succeed during your studies.

Getting a degree is a great way of levelling up your skills and knowledge in your chosen field of work. The decision to go is often exciting and nerve racking, and will ultimately change your life forever through the experiences you have and qualifications you gain. 

No-one plans to do badly at university, but it is easy to fall behind on deadlines when your life can sometimes pull you in all directions. Often it can be overwhelming seeing deadlines loom closer if you haven’t been organised with work throughout the semesters. 

It’s easy to look for shortcuts to deal with the workload, which can lead to academic misconduct. In some cases, you may end up needing an academic misconduct lawyer who will help minimise the reputational harm that misconduct can bring on yourself. To help curb this, here are eight ways to help you avoid this situation entirely.

1) Go to lectures

This might seem obvious but, for many people living independently for the first time, suddenly having choice in what you do can be detrimental to a routine you may have had at home. It might seem tempting to stay at home and catch up later, but this is a mistake. Don’t miss out on lectures or tutorials, as getting the information second hand can be more difficult. 

Throughout the pandemic, most classes have been moved online. But, as restrictions ease, universities want students to have the full experience and use of facilities, and it’s important to engage as much as possible. 

Physically being in lectures and amongst other students can help you mentally settle into student lifestyle. It also forces you to prioritise work before social life. As well as this, you don’t want to miss out on announcements, exam talk, or any information about your course you would otherwise miss. 

2) Clarify assignments 

If you’ve been given a piece of work that isn’t clear to you, then it’s best to get clarification on it as soon as possible and before starting the work. You can do this in numerous ways; it could be as simple as sending an email to your course leader or booking in a session to run through ideas.

As much as university is mostly independent learning, don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. If you’re not keen on talking to your course leader, then you could consider putting together a study group with others on your course. This can be a great way to get to know others whilst also learning. Just be careful not to accidentally collaborate on solo assignments.

Once you understand the assignment or coursework set out, you can give yourself appropriate time and make it a much less stressful process. 

3) Plan ahead

At the start of each semester, you will be given a timetable of lectures and exams, as well as when any assessments will be due. It’s worth noting any important dates on a calendar so that they are visible to you, and you don’t forget. 

This way, you can keep yourself consistent with a study schedule, so you don’t fall behind. Planning out your time will make deadlines a lot less stressful and allow you to make time for other parts of your university life.

4) Familiarise yourself with student support services 

The student’s union at any university is essentially a hub of help for all students. If you’re caught out with misconduct, the student’s union will be the ones to support you through the process.

Every union is different, but the majority offer student services that help you with things such as essay guidance, financial advice and counselling. These services are all free to students, so utilise what is offered if you feel you’re worrying about anything. You can go to them about anything that might affect your ability to concentrate in university, and they will help as much as possible. 

5) Reading lists are great guidance  

Your course leaders would have put a lot of thought into how you can do the assignment set out at the end of the semester, based on what they’ve been teaching. It’s worth taking a look at the essential reading list, as well as any extra readings that have been recommended to look at, to keep you on the right tracks. 

It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole with the millions of texts available to students online or in the library that you might think are relevant. So, try not to stray away from any clear instructions on what to look at, as chances are it may not be relevant to your work. 

6) Do your own work

This might seem like another obvious one, but doing your own work is the only way to know for sure that you’re doing original work. As mentioned, study groups are great for getting a deeper understanding on a subject, but don’t share notes and ideas on how you’re tackling an assignment.

7) Sit apart from your friends during exams

In desperate times, it’s tempting to look over at friends during exams. Sharing answers will lead to misconduct and land you and your friend in trouble.

Try and sit a few seats away from anyone you know to avoid this. Even sharing glances with each other can cause distraction and maybe make you feel uneasy about your answers. Stay focused on your own paper and wait to debrief answers till after the exam.

8) Reference, reference, reference 

Before reaching university, you may never have experienced referencing your work before. Most of what you say in assignments will have been said by an academic before, and has to be referenced. Avoid copy and pasting large chunks of text, as this will show up immediately by plagiarising detectors once you’ve submitted the work. 

Without referencing your ideas and arguments and paraphrasing appropriately, you could find yourself accidently plagiarising. Plagiarising is one of the most common misconduct issues for students. It’s also possible to self-plagiarise, so be careful not to repeat anything you’ve said in a past assignment. 

If you’re not sure what type of referencing you need to make, ask your course leader. Once you’ve established what kind of referencing style is used, you can seek advice from student services who can show you exactly how to do it. There is also plenty of help and tools available online to make citing work easier. 

Maintaining integrity at university is vital to succeeding

There is so much that can go wrong when a student isn’t organised with work. Don’t fall victim to taking short cuts, and risk being caught out and facing misconduct. Get to know the student services around you and reach out for help if you’re struggling with deadlines, or understanding university procedures.

Make a plan and stick to it, give yourself plenty of time to ask questions and time to check over and edit work. Being organised and following the advice in this article will ensure you have the best possible university experience.

Photo by Max Shilov