This post was written by an external contributor. Here, Susannah Keogh gives you the playbook for the first term of final year.
The last two years of university have flown by and before you know it, September’s rolled around again – but this time, you’re a final year student with all the stress that entails. After the fun of fresher’s week, the hard work starts, and it can intimidate even the most organised, most academic of students.
Final year is different from your other years at university, and this presents its own challenge. It’s not just the heightened workload, it’s the pressure of applying for jobs and masters courses alongside trying to make the most of your last year as a student. Follow these tips though, and you won’t just be surviving your first term, you’ll be thriving.
It’s important to set realistic aims at the start of the year – that way, you’ll be more likely to actually stick to them. If you’re the kind of person who never ever in the history of your university career has made it to a 9am lecture (yep, my hand is straight up here) then it’s probably slightly unrealistic to say you’re going to go to every single one this year. Remember that you’re only human, so cut yourself some slack. Setting realistic goals will make you feel more accomplished when you do stick to them.
Actually talk to your tutors
Wait what? You’re seriously suggesting going to see a lecturer in our free time?! Yep, you got it. I honestly couldn’t have come out of final year with a 2:1 if I hadn’t emailed, nagged and been that annoying person popping up at my tutor’s and lecturer’s office hours every week. Whilst at first I found talking to lecturers whose subject I quite honestly, did not understand at all, pretty intimidating, I reminded myself that this is their job.
They are paid to teach you, and that includes helping you if you’re struggling. Trust me, trying completing an essay on the positionality of gender in the context of philosophical anthropology (just writing the title is giving me the shudders) without talking once to your lecturer. It’s an impossible task. So just open your mouth, and talk to them. They’re almost definitely not as a scary as you think.
Use a calendar
Ah, the humble calendar. For most of us millennials, the idea of using a calendar is probably alien. We’re used to having Facebook remind us about a plan, or just being reliant on our brains to remember.
Seriously, you’ll struggle to thrive in your first term of final year if you don’t write down all your deadlines. And I’m not just talking about coursework deadlines. The deadline for your dissertation literature review, for that research proposal, a presentation in front of your class…and that’s not mentioning all those cover letters and applications for jobs or Masters courses.
Just buy a calendar and use it, that’s all I’m saying.
Schedule some leisure time
All work and play makes Jack a dull boy. This. Is. So. TRUE. It’s so, so easy to become a hermit stuck in the library day after day, night after night (there’s showers and vending machines – why would you ever need to leave?) but you’ll probably be much more productive if you take a chill pill now and again.
If you’re planning a long day in the library, then arrange to meet a friend for coffee or lunch to break it up a bit. Say to yourself that if you work really hard all week, you can go for drinks with friends on a Friday night. Whilst it’s easy to get caught up in a vicious circle of stressing about work and cancelling plans, I actually found that I was less productive when I just stayed in all day, every day with only my work for company.