Like a lot of students, I’m about to start my final year at university. It’s an unusual time: being so close to becoming a true ‘adult’, and yet still being a part of the university atmosphere. For most of us final-year students, life is about to become more about university work and studying, and less about going out with friends multiple times a week. As I am – alongside quite a few others – extremely aware of this impending change, but completely unprepared for it, I asked a couple of postgraduate friends for some advice on how to tackle final year. Here are some of their essential dos-and-don’ts:

DO Your Work:

Final year is the time when university work counts the most. For me, third year counts for nearly two thirds of my whole degree, so there is a lot of pressure to work hard. Third year is the time to buckle down and do everything you need to for your course. It is essential that you do any reading or seminar prep needed, and take thorough notes during your classes.

“The more work you do throughout the year, the easier it will be to tackle exams and coursework when they come around”

Similarly, now is the best time to take advantage of your tutors’ office hours. They’re there for a reason, and can help you with anything from lecture topics, essay plans, revision tips, or life advice. The more work you do throughout the year, the easier it will be to tackle exams and coursework when they come around. During the second semester of second year I tried to do this, and it certainly made revision and essay-preparation a whole lot easier.

DON’T Let Other People Stress You Out:

Everyone works in their own way, and at their own speed. Some people might do their reading in an hour, whilst others take three, but that’s perfectly okay! If someone says they’ve done eight hours of work and you’ve only done four, don’t panic. Do what work you need to do, and don’t let anyone else’s productivity intimidate or scare you.

DO Modules You Enjoy:

Final year makes up a large proportion of your degree, but if you want to be enthusiastic and motivated to complete the work, you need to do the modules that you enjoy most. It’s okay to think tactically if you vastly prefer coursework over exams or vice versa, but be sure to take note of your own personal interests. Even if you prefer coursework, if an exam module sounds really interesting it’s better to take that rather than force yourself through three months of hell in a module you hate!

DO Eat Well and Get Enough Sleep:

You wouldn’t expect a car to run well if it had a flat battery or the wrong fuel in it, so why expect your body to function on no sleep or a diet consisting mainly of instant noodles? Get familiar with how much sleep is best for you. For the majority of people this will be a multiple of 1.5 hours/90 minutes; for example, mine is around 7.5 hours. Then aim to meet this target every night you possibly can. Furthermore, spend money on quality ingredients and food, and if you haven’t already, get familiar with a couple of staple recipes. Eating well will boost your ability to retain and process information, and will make doing work that much easier!

DO Figure out a Work Schedule:

If you can get into the habit of working for a set numbers of hours a day, working will be much easier. Figure out when you work best whether this be early, late, or in the middle of the day. Then try and base your studying around that. You may want to try studying 9-5 if you want a ‘typical’ working day, earlier if you want your afternoons free, or later if you struggle to get up in the mornings.

“It’s much easier to do work if you have other people around you who are working hard”

Also, try and get some study buddies together whom you can meet up with several times a week to work with. It’s much easier to do work if you have other people around you who are working hard. Plus, if you’ve arranged to study with other people, it’s much harder to bail!

DO Take Time to Enjoy Yourself:

Your final year is just that: your final year of university! It’s the perfect environment to find new hobbies and interests because of the sheer number of societies and student deals around. Make time for friends, and spend time doing whatever you enjoy most. Whether it be going out with your friends or having a pamper session after a hard week. University is as much about your social life and the memories you make as it is about studying, therefore make the most of the opportunities and freedom that university provides, and most importantly: ENJOY IT!

Ellen Smithies

(With contributions from Emma Vosper and Sarah Murphy)

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