Many of you will soon be returning back to university after a (hopefully) very relaxing Christmas break. The dread will soon kick in, the panic about graduate life will start and you will realise it’s all coming to an end sooner than you would like it to. The period from January to the end of my degree went quicker than any other semester, and looking back, I could have experienced so much more. So, I am writing this in the hope that it helps you, that it inspires you to go out and try new things, because it’s really never too late.
Let’s start with the formalities:
- Be organised
Whether this be for coursework or job applications, exam revision or extra-curricular commitments, it is vital to keep on top of your work and your deadlines as the end of the year approaches. Enter the to-do list: your new best friend and the simplest method of organisation known to man. Note down important dates alongside tasks to ensure they are done on time and make it as detailed as you possibly can. I found it really useful to set myself daily tasks such as “write xxx words of my dissertation today”. It’s even more satisfying to check off everything you have achieved at the end of the day.
- Speaking of jobs…
There is no use burying your head in the sand. Graduation is looming and will be here in no time. Even if you are unsure exactly what you want to do, it doesn’t hurt to have a meeting with your careers adviser to chat through your options, tweak your CV and maybe even start searching for some opportunities. Now is also a great time to try and add any last minute extra-curricular activities or skills to your CV – volunteering is always a good place to start!
- You’ve worked hard, now relax!
The phrase “work hard, play harder” springs to mind! It’s so important to have time away from your desk in final year too. Enjoy nights out and remember to spend quality time with your friends to let off steam. Nobody can concentrate 24/7, so don’t feel guilty for leaving that essay for one night; it will still be there in the morning.
- Ask for help
If you do find you are struggling with your workload, or you just feel a bit overwhelmed with it all, PLEASE talk to somebody. Be it with friends, family or one of your lecturers. All universities will have some form of student support system if you feel you need a more professional ear. There is no shame in asking for some help or guidance. Nobody is an island, right?
- Try to enjoy it!
These are potentially your last few months of student life, and I cannot stress enough how much you will miss it once it’s gone. Enjoy the mid-afternoon naps, the quality time spent with friends, the relaxed schedule… Because once you start ‘adulting’, these things are hard to come by. I really wish I had spent more time in my final year going out and exploring the world around me, making memories and experiencing new things. Yes, the grades you obtain at university are important, but for me, the experiences you have and the friends you make do more for your character and your future than any number on a piece of paper.
I hope in some way this helps some of you, or at least reassures you that the world isn’t about to come crashing down around you!
PS. Graduate life isn’t all that bad, read about my first week at my job here!