Welcome to the final part of my mini series discussing some potentially useful advice, or things to consider, for each year of your university life. Today I will be talking about the biggest, and probably the toughest, year you’ll have: final year (Third year in many cases).
If I’m being absolutely honest I don’t think there’s any solid advice to give that’ll universally make everyone’s third years a whole lot easier; everyone faces their own challenges and many come in the form of curve balls, with issues cropping up you never even considered. But, before your mind races I think it’s important to say that not only will you get through it, and what you achieve because of it is well worth any of the negative feelings and hardships. So, here are a few thoughts and potentially helpful insights all about final year.
1.Work, Work and More Work:
Your final year will be your most difficult in terms of your work; both the quantity of work and what it entails. In the case of Film Studies, along with my dissertation, I often found that many of my assignments had a lot more individual choice involved; rather than a list of specific questions a general brief was given, with a prompt as to how to approach the task, which although allowed me to delve more into topics I am specifically interested in it was quite daunting relying further on my own ideas as opposed to having rigid guidelines. Essays and tasks were longer than previous years and in some cases had a shorter turnarounds than expected.
As per my previous advice blogs, I’ll reiterate that it’s absolutely natural to feel overwhelmed, however, your work load is manageable, with some due care and attention to your schedule. This is most certainly the year to always try your best as in most cases this is the year which will contribute most to the degree you will come out with (graduating with a 1st, 2:1 etc.), so make it count!
Speaking of your schedule, third year once again requires some adjustment, most notably the balance between work and play becomes a little trickier and certainly requires a lot more organisation, and a little more willpower. When I say willpower I mean in terms of discipline, whether it’s staying on track at the library, or going to the library more frequently in the first place. Something what can really help is becoming more set in a sleep routine; this can be a challenge to achieve but once it’s set you’ll find it a lot easier to keep a steady work routine. Also worth noting: the library is often very quiet in the morning, any time before 11am, so you’d be wise to make the most of the space!
As with every stage in life your friendship dynamics often change, and your final year is no exception. With everything going on in third year you may find that your circle of friends may not be available as often and you may also find yourself becoming more close knit with a smaller group of individuals, as socialising becomes more precious.
I want to debunk the myth that everyone will finish university with a huge circle of super close friends, some people will, but more than likely you’ll leave with a smaller quantity of friends, just as close, but nothing like the size of those gaggles you see on lots of the posters advertising university life. Make time for those who truly matter to you, but don’t beat yourself up if that weekly coffee becomes fortnightly; everyone is busy and hence everyone understands!
Just because you’re a final year and “know what you’re doing”, your final year can often challenge you to your limit, so don’t feel like you can’t reach out to friends, family, lecturers, or even the wider services at your university. Although I can’t say I’ve always been a perfect example of utilising it, self care really is vital in your final year; do not be afraid to prioritise yourself and your needs, providing you’re not being detrimental to others. It’s equally not unusual, particularly for those with existing mental health issues, to experience low moods, periods of anxiousness and so on; again, this is something that people are more than willing to chat about and will help you seek help for, whether through the university or a health care professional.
Above all it’s important you know that literally every final year has had one or, if we’re honest, several break down moments in one form or another; just because someone looks like they’re acing things, with a good routine and a hold on their deadlines, it doesn’t mean they’re not feeling the pressure. Take the time to ask how others are doing and more than anything do not feel ashamed when you feel a little out of control; everyone deserves some help to reign things in a little.
Although graduation is probably your final goodbye to your university, it’s quite normal to feel the need to say goodbye before then. Whether you stick around for the summer term or not, make an effort to celebrate how far you’ve come with the people that matter; the realisation of just how far away they live won’t sink in for a little while. Similarly, especially if you do not live in commutable proximity to your university, tick off anything you’ve been wanting to do/visit in the area, or take the time to go back to the places that have some significance to you.
Finally, once you’re at home, take some time to yourself, and don’t worry if you feel a bit lost; it’s not a good feeling but it’s absolutely justified and so common. Revamp your bedroom with some of your favourite things from university and try and savour the moment of not only your fantastic achievement but also having a well deserved break. Throw yourself into fun activities your university schedule didn’t allow for, catch up with old friends, and most of all celebrate what you’ve just completed, closing this chapter of your life in style.
Take Care Everyone, I’ll Speak to You All Soon!