Experienced IoF tutor Dr Claire Routley shares her advice for completing an IoF qualification. Read on for the advice that will not only prepare you, but help you decide if it's your time to study.
What you want from studying a qualification might sound like an obvious question – a qualification! However, people take part in our qualifications for a whole range of reasons, from improving their employment prospects, to giving their organisation’s fundraising strategy a boost, to meeting the challenge of learning something new. By clarifying in your own mind exactly what you want in advance, you can choose your most appropriate route through your qualification.
Make sure you read the course handbook and get your copy of the textbook. Once you have access to the online platform, check you can find key information. Read through the assignments and make sure you can tackle them all from within your organisation – and, if not, think about who you might partner up with to complete them. Think also about key internal documents or information you might need and find it early on – the more you can get sorted in advance, the more time you’ll have once the course is underway to focus on your academic work.
We often have different preferences about how we like to learn. Think about what has worked best for you in the past: do you like to read about a subject, or do you take in information best through trial and error? If you’re not sure what works best for you, you could take a learning-style survey online. Once you understand your own preferences, you can plan elements of your learning accordingly.
Putting together a plan for your assignments can help you to organise your study – particularly if like most of our students, you’re balancing study with a full-time job. However, research also shows that those who write down their goals are also likely to be more successful than those who don’t.
Habits can be incredibly powerful – as anyone who’s tried to break a bad one can testify! You can use that power for good by creating a study habit. Can you find a little time each day to study, whether it’s reading your textbook on the train into work, or catching up on an article over lunch? Making study a part of our routine, and doing it little and often, will enable you to get through a surprising amount of work.
Whether you’re tackling an assignment or in the middle of the exam, making sure you read the question carefully is a valuable, but obvious piece of advice. Perhaps even more importantly, however, is re-reading the question – it’s very easy to start writing and for your response to evolve in a slightly different direction to the original question asked. Keep coming back to the question and sense checking your work as you develop your answer.
The people around you – other students, colleagues at your charity, your tutors – are a valuable resource: a mine of advice, a good sounding board and a source of moral support. Make the most of them! Post on the course message boards, contact your tutors, arrange to meet up with or Skype your classmates.
Find out more about the fundraising qualifications available at the IoF Academy.
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