How to make a Personal Study Plan (PSP)
Objectives of the PSP
The objective of the PSP is to give you an overall understanding of the degree and about the progress of your studies. The preparation of the PSP also helps outline the time required for the studies as well as the premises of and objectives for the studies.
Through planning, you can make more appropriate choices and avoid overlaps in the studies. Scheduling saves time for the essentials and helps reconcile studies with your life in general.
The PSP is also a good tool in study guidance situations. Through discussion, even problems that may seem big can sometimes be quickly resolved. In discussion situations, the PSP helps the counsellor gauge for example your interests and the status of your studies in a concrete way, as well as providing an opportunity for more individual guidance.
Premises for preparing a PSP
The premises for preparing a PSP are the study structure and the degree programme's curriculum, which determine the studies to be included in the degrees.
In the Peppi study guide for your own degree programme, you can find the recommended completion order of the study modules, as well as information about whether the modules are mandatory or optional.
When planning the studies, also the selection of educational orientation, possible minor subjects and modules, communication and language skills, as well as optional studies, must be taken into consideration. It is possible to plan the degree so that it also includes international exchange studies, as well as traineeships in Finland or abroad.
When preparing the PSP, it is essential that you take your personal premises and targets into account and consider, for example, the impacts of minor subject selections and other orientation, as well as traineeships and the subject of the thesis, on finding employment and building a career.
How is a PSP prepared?
In planning your studies, you are assisted by the Peppi study guide, teaching schedules and WebOodi.
Study guides contain a description of the degree structure, detailed curricula for the study modules, as well as information about the degree programme and competence targets. The teaching schedules are available in the university's timetable and teaching schedule system, Lukkarikone. Changes to the teaching schedule are also found in Lukkarikone. Up-to-date exam lists and other information concerning exams can be found in WebOodi.
Start planning your studies by carefully familiarising yourself with your degree programme structure, content and objectives, which provide the direction and framework for your personal targets. Consider your future prospects and your objects of interest, as well as the goals and expectations that you set for education and studying. You can start for example by considering why you are studying business studies/technology/communication studies/administrative sciences. Thus, you can steer the choices made during the studies in accordance with your own aspirations.
When preparing the PSP and its various versions, it is worthwhile remembering that your personal areas of interest, strengths, weaknesses, and other factors associated with your life, change in the course of time. You do not need to worry if you feel that setting targets is difficult at the start of your studies – the targets will be defined further as the studies progress.
Familiarise yourself with the structure of your degree and with the recommended order of completion of the study modules. Record in the PSP the recommended completion semester of the study modules for the entire degree. It is a good idea to prepare this kind of a general overview of the entire duration of studies in the early stages of studying, because it helps you to better structure your studies.
Familiarise yourself also with the pages describing modules and minor subject studies.
Prepare a concrete study timetable for yourself at least for the coming academic year. You can prepare the timetable in as much detail as you feel is appropriate. It is a good idea to also outline the future academic years in broad terms.
You can correct and modify your targets and plans throughout your studies, because the PSP will be modified as your understanding of your own resources and those offered by the university become clearer. The intention is that you regularly (for example each academic year) review the intended completion order and timetable of the study modules and make the necessary changes, clarifications and additions to your plan. Your degree programme provides guidelines on when the first PSP is prepared and how it is reviewed.
For the progress of your studies, it is important that you prepare a realistic and target-oriented plan in which you take your personal situation in life and your opportunities for studying into account. You should allocate sufficient time in your calendar for both studying and for things outside studying.
Full-time studying for one academic year corresponds to 60 credits. It is estimated that to achieve one credit requires approximately 27 hours of work. Therefore, time must be allocated for lectures, exercises, reading, writing, making notes, group work, self-study, etc. Your previous studies and experience, as well as many other factors, have the impact that somewhat more or less time may be needed.
What else does a PSP contain?
In addition to the study schedule and targets, it is a good idea to record in the PSP your previous studies and the credits earned for them, as well as for example plans concerning minor subject studies, traineeships, exchange studies, and the thesis. The nature of the PSP is that it is continuously amended and complemented – therefore, it does not matter if you do not know everything straight away.
It is important that you amend your plan as your personal study path and your thoughts become clearer. It is worthwhile also recording very preliminary thoughts and ideas, which may even seem funny or uncertain; in this way, you can see the development of your thoughts and goals.
Studies completed elsewhere and possible credit transfers
Have you completed studies elsewhere that you can include in your degree or that you can use to compensate some study modules? You can find out more about compensating and including studies in section Recognition of Prior Experiental Learning (RPEL). You can find the application form for credit transfer on the Forms page.
Record in your PSP your higher education -level studies (for example, studies in the Open University, a Bachelor's degree, a polytechnic degree), as well as the credit transfers received for them.
Plans concerning minor subject and module studies
What kinds of subject areas are you interested in? Which study modules or courses would support your studies and your personal targets?
You can get information about minor subject and module studies in the Peppi study guide and from your study counsellor.
Working life connections related to studies
Working life skills are key objectives of a university degree, and therefore it is important that orientation and transferring to the working life are thought about already at the time when the studies are being planned. A traineeship undertaken during the studies builds work experience in your own field and creates contacts with the working life. It also strengthens your competence, improves study motivation, and has an effective impact on finding employment after graduation.
You can find more detailed information about internships under the section Internship. More information about career guidance is provided under section Career services.
Internationalisation plans of the studies
Is it your dream to study abroad and gain cultural experience as well as improving your language skills? In what way do you intend to realise the international aspect in your studies – by seeking to study or have a traineeship abroad, or would you like to internationalise at your home campus? What kinds of opportunities for exchange studies are on offer? What kinds of studies can you complete abroad?
The University of Vaasa provides all of its students with intercultural competence during their studies. Intercultural competence may, for example, be gained from exchange studies or from other studies undertaken in a foreign language. Additional information is available under Internationalisation.
The thesis – a Bachelor's thesis or a Master's thesis is prepared in the final stage of the studies.
As your studies progress and you update your PSP, you can start to consider issues associated with preparing the thesis. What types of subjects interest you, and which topic could your thesis be connected to? Also consider which studies within your degree programme support the thesis and where you can get practise in the knowledge and skills that are necessary for your thesis.
Questions that support the preparation of the PSP
If you wish, you can also consider your studying and learning targets, the organisation of the studies and their relationship with your other life, your own study habits and methods, as well as the support and guidance you need for the studies, more extensively in the PSP. It is also sensible to evaluate the realisation of your PSP from time to time.
The questions presented under the following subheadings are mainly for you. Their purpose is to clarify your thoughts and goals and to act as a basis for planning your studies. You do not need to consider all the questions; you can select the ones that are relevant to you. Skills in the continuous evaluation of your own actions are also essential working life skills and a part of the basis of lifelong learning.
You do not need to show your considerations and thoughts to anyone. On the other hand, they are helpful in guidance situations, so when you seek guidance, it is a good idea to collect some of your thoughts for the counsellor so that he or she can gain a better understanding of your situation.
Questions to support the preparation of studying and learning targets
When you start outlining your targets, you can think about your personal areas of interest and expectations, your strengths and weaknesses. Interest can be directed to one or several of the following: a specific subject, specific expertise, job description and/or work duties; a specific industry, organisation or position level. For one student, the consideration most naturally starts for example from an interest in a major or minor subject and for another, from a specific industry or job description.
From time to time, it is a good idea to ask yourself why-questions and record the grounds for your choices:
- Why have I sought to study this discipline? Did I have other alternatives?
- What do I expect from my studies and from the time of studying? What do I aim to achieve through my studies?
- What interests me the most about these studies? What do I want to learn?
- What kinds of subject matters am I interested in?
- What are my expectations for my future job? What kinds of things could I do in my work?
- What things are important for me when selecting my profession?
- What do I need to take into account when planning my studies from the perspective of finding employment?
- What kinds of requirements, expertise and skills are required from an expert in my discipline?
- What kind of competence is required in my dream job and how can I develop it? What do I need to study?
- Which knowledge and skills are considered important in the working life now and in the future? How can I acquire these?
- What kinds of knowledge and skills has my previous education given me?
- What kind of skills have I acquired on the basis of my previous work experience? And what kind of competence have I gained for example through hobbies or positions of trust?
- How can I extend and complement my competence? What opportunities does this education provide?
Questions about the organisation of studies and their relationship to other areas of life
When planning your studies, it is important that you take into account your personal situation in life and your possibilities for studying, in other words, your personal studying resources. This makes it possible to prepare a study timetable that is realistic and flexible and thus, one that you can commit to.
- How do work, family, leisure time and studying set the rhythm for my life?
- What effect do these have on my resources available for studying and on my opportunities for allocating time for it?
- What does purposeful studying require from me?
- How much time am I able to allocate for studying a day/week/month etc.?
- Am I a full-time student or do I also work, or am I studying alongside working?
- How do various forms of study require for example commitment to the activities of groups or presence in teaching situations? How do I divide my studies into periods (daily/weekly/monthly)?
- Are there things in my life that (particularly) facilitate my studying? How about things that may slow down my studying or make it more difficult?
- What kind of a study plan am I able and willing to commit to?
- What brings joy to studying, what helps me cope?
Questions about forms and methods of studying
In university studies, there are various forms of studying. Some forms of studying may be more unfamiliar, and time should be allocated to learning them.
Some forms of studying may take more of your time, and this should also be taken into account when preparing the study plan. There may sometimes also be different alternatives for completing study modules. It is easier for you to select the one most suitable for you when you are aware of your way of learning.
- How do I learn the best: by reading, listening, writing or doing?
- Which form of study suits me best: lectures, group work, online or remote work, training, laboratory work, etc.?
- Which form of study requires more time from me or is difficult for me?
- Which form of study is easy for me?
- What are my own study habits like? What suits me best and in which area do I need to develop?
- How do I study for exams? Do I am to pass, do I primarily aim for good grades, or is my goal to gain a deep understanding of the topic?
- When is my studying at its most effective?
- How do I evaluate my learning and competence?
- What kinds of things do I think are easy/difficult for me?
Questions for the guidance and support of learning
Even though the PSP is personal, you do not need to prepare it alone. Guidance is provided by the study counsellor of your degree programme, as well as the teachers of your degree programme/discipline.
You can also get support for preparing the PSP from other students; you can plan the studies together for example in a tutor group. Often, students are wondering about very similar things.
In your PSP, you can think about your need for guidance and agree about guidance when you feel it is necessary.
- What kind of support and guidance do I need in my studies?
- From whom do I get help in different situations?
- What kind of feedback do I want to receive for my studying and how do I want to receive it?
Questions for the evaluation of studies/PSP
From time to time, for example at the end of each academic year, it is also a good idea to evaluate the realisation of the study plan. Skills in the continuous evaluation of your own actions are also essential working life skills and a part of the basis of lifelong learning.
You can compare the realisation of your studies in relation to the targets set in your PSP. These matters can also be discussed during guidance situations. You can consider, for example, the progress of your study plan; how has it been extended, complemented or changed?
- Are my studies progressing in the way I hoped? Was the credit target set by me achieved?
- How well did I achieve the learning targets I had set?
- Which targets were not achieved and why?
- Was the effort put into the studies commensurate with the results?
- Where do I feel I succeeded particularly well?
- Which things do I feel that I know well at the moment?
- Do I feel that I failed in my studies (for example, a course did not go as I expected)?
- What am I planning to invest in with regard to my studying to ensure that my studies will progress as I wish them to do?
- Have the decisions I have made (for example, my choices of subjects) been correct?
- How have my studies prepared me for the working life?
- How has my competence developed?
- What in my experience have been the benefits of preparing a PSP?