Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Looking Back in Retrospect: Advice for Students in their Final Year

Grace Anderson and Lottie Naughton spoke to some graduating students for their advice on handling the last year of their degrees.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing, so take some tips from those about to leave hoping that somebody starting their final year can learn from these triumphs and mistakes!
Lottie Naughton (Psychology, 4th Year): My final year is marking the end to one of the biggest chapters in my life so far. Naturally, I am absolutely terrified of moving on into the big wide world! Narrowing down “do’s” and “dont’s” is hard but here are two that are important to me!
  • DO! Get involved - taking advantage of all your university has to offer is important for when you leave. You need to show potential employers you’ve been working your butt off! I suggest putting yourself forward for committee roles in societies, starting a blog or contributing to one, working for the university in student based jobs or even just doing some volunteering for local charities. Your student union will have tonnes of information, so take advantage!
  • DON’T! Neglect your well-being - your intellect will be challenged in your final year. Your final year project will push your abilities to the limits and managing that piece of work alongside essays and exams will mean your time management will be tested. Making sure you are able to spend some time alone engaging in some self-care is a good way to keep yourself focused and happy. Schedule it in and delight in the time with yourself!
Grace Anderson (Psychology, 4th Year):
Change! Fear is one word that comes straight to mind when I think about leaving university this year. Excitement is also another. However, I would like my experience of being in final year to benefit other students who have this chapter of their lives to come.
  • DO make the effort to make friends - personally it was hard coming back from placement; most of my uni friends had graduated. You may ask what’s the point in making friends, there is only a year left? Friends make a university experience so join a new society and speak to new people on your course - seriously final year is not too late to make friends.
  • DON'T feel like you need to do work 24/7 - your final year is a big year and you will have LOADS of work on but this doesn't mean you have to do it constantly, get organised - make a timetable and factor in fun things like an evening with your friends or a good book and a hot chocolate.
Saira Wood (MPsych Graduate Student):
Final year is where all your hard work pays off! The feeling after that last exam or dissertation submission is like nothing else, so you'll want to know you've done your absolute best for when those results come through the letterbox!
  • DO Think ahead -  start thinking about what you want to do after you graduate, and tailor your project to help you achieve that. Start networking, using sites like Linkedin, to get your name out there.
  • DON'T panic - realisation will kick in and you’ll start feeling a bit panicky, but don’t. This is the best time of your life, honest(!), and you’ll only ever regret the effort you didn’t put in, so chill out, take some time to yourself, and then hit the books again when you’re feeling better.
Kerry Walke (Cruise Management, 4th Year): You’ve spent the last few years growing up and now you're leaving the safe purgatory zone that is university to explore the mysterious adult world! Everyone tells you “university was the best time of my life” or “I found my one true love/one true BFF/one true calling at university” but don’t let that turn into some sort of pressure.
  • DO get the most out of being young  - you aren’t weighed down with massive responsibilities, make time to experience the world (do a season in Zante, teach English abroad, lifeguard in Cornwall, or volunteer at a local charity).  The less pressure you put on yourself after university, the more fulfilled you will feel in the long run!
  • DON’T feel as though you have to do something specifically related to your degree after you graduate -  degrees are an open pathway to so many areas of employment you probably haven’t even thought about. My lecturer told me “A degree can be stepping stone into anything you wish”, so with that in mind, find something you really want to do and use your degree as a starting point.

Heather Guerin (Psychology, 4th Year): Being in your final year can be hectic and stressful but there's a lot you can do to make things easy for yourself.
  • DO try and enjoy your final year as much as possible and believe in yourself and your ability to nail this final year, because if we can do it... So can you. Cheesy but true!
  • DON'T be too scared to ask for help, everyone gets stuck or needs advice at some point. You’re paying for it so you may as well take all the help you can get.
Eleanor Perrett (Psychology, 4th Year): Having experienced mental health issues whilst at university I think there are definitely things that you should and shouldn't do to help kick off uni in the best way and although my list of do's and don’t’s could go on forever here is just one of each!
  • DO join as many clubs and societies as possible, especially sports clubs! The more people you meet the better and you'll stand a much better chance of finding at least one person who does make you smile! People in societies and sports clubs can become like your family, because you're a team! TRY NEW THINGS, HAVE FUN!
  • DON'T feel like you're alone. I promise you, uni is scary and overwhelming for EVERYONE! Open up to someone you trust about how you’re feeling! If it's not a flatmate/friend then open up to your tutor or the university counsellors. They are there to make the transition into final year easier!
Libby Rackham (Psychology Graduate): I'm the sort of person who says yes to everything and I like to think that I can do it all. When it came to my final year, balancing all of my responsibilities started to get on top of me. These are my two top tops to stop everything from getting to you:
  • DO go outside: I joined a running club in my final year and would also go out with my housemates for early runs and walks. It seems like going outside and spending time on something not dissertation/exam related is counterproductive but the fresh air clears your head.
  • DON'T try to control everything: I learnt that you can still get everything you want done, just maybe not in the way that you initially planned. While this can make you panic a bit at first, just go with the flow and it all sorts itself out eventually. You're only human after all!

Beth Colquhoun (Psychology Graduate): Having graduated last year, hindsight rears its persistent head on a daily basis and reminds me of all the behaviors I could have honed just that little bit better in those final months.

  • DO maintain interests which don't encompass aspects of your degree - flailing my limbs around widely in aerobics classes provided a welcome break for my mind and prevented me from spending months on end hibernating amongst mind maps and revision cards.
  • DON'T wish time away - when the workload starts to pile up, you may find yourself drifting into a permanent daydream about a long filled daiquiri fueled holiday as soon as exams are over. Just remember that this final push can make all the different to your future, and you'll spend the following months wishing you had slowed down and appreciated the journey, as backbreaking as it seemed at the time!

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