The final days of a final year
"Okay so the title sounds a little melodramatic than how the actual situation is. However, for a final year in the last ever week of my university life, this does call for a little bit of an existential crisis. How on earth has 3 years of life just disappeared into the abyss?! The whole concept of not returning to university, or London sadly, in September is something that I am struggling to get my head around at this point. So I thought, if there are any other poor souls out there who can relate, I would take to writing a blog post about it to offer some important advice to those who are still in, or yet to begin, the throes of university life, and honestly, just to have a bit of a moan. Please bear with me and if you are at all interested in indugling me, do read on.
In some ways, I feel as though my final weeks of uni have been disadvantaged. I am currently, and have been now for the last two weeks, surrounded by friends and acquaintances, be it in my SU bar or on Instagram, bleating about how they have in fact, finished university. [Insert the typical, long caption of how there has been ups and downs, so many memories, so many stress-induced tears, but the love for the course mates is real and everyone is gonna miss each other sooooo much, so this calls for a major celebration and a 10-minute-long Snapchat story of said celebration].
Now, for someone who has their last exam during the actual final exam slot of the whole university exam timetable, this is not something that brings a lot of joy, and my bitterness towards my friends’ freedom is probably fairly evident. There may be some of you who are reading this who are in the same boat – I am happy to come together with you in solitude through this time, ignoring the other student populations who have already started their summers/are at a festival/have left the country. We’re in this together. However, this (fairly evident) state of bitterness has brought a number of realisations for final year realities for me that I will now share with you, especially those who are not yet done with their university years. Sit tight folks, here comes the truth from a sad final year looking back in retrospect…
1. You will have done 90% of things for the last time without realising it. Yes, this is the truth. I am 2 days away from leaving university forever, and it was only a few weeks ago that I was sat in the park with my friends planning days out/nights out/dinners/lunches. "We have SO much time left, we gotta plan so many fun things!!!" WELL - here we all are still chained to our revision having followed through zero of these plans. This is the unfortunate nature of final year – work has to take priority and your time is limited. A cruel concept, but bottom line: enjoy things while you can.
2. Appreciate your current people. It is easy to be naïve at this point. “I’m gonna see all my uni friends at least once a month when we have graduated, absolute promise”. Yeah, good one. Unless you all live closely, unfortunately the sad truth is that visits and catch ups will be much more sporadic, because naturally life gets in the way. Spend as much time with your friends as you can, while you can – even if it’s just to watch TV on the sofa or go for a walk. You’ll miss them more than you realise when you leave!
3. No one ever really emphasises the speed at which the second semester of your final year goes. Like, seriously. I feel like I finished my January exams, I blinked, and here I am. This will also be your heaviest workload-semester for uni – try and find a balance between getting your work done, but also planning memorable things with your friends. It has also arguably been one of the best semesters of my uni life, so value this time greatly, folks.
4. Final year is stressful. We kinda all knew this. However, as a final year student, you do succumb to a unanimous crisis at least once across the year which goes something like this: “How do people deal with final year? Like, how have people actually graduated? I don’t know if I can continue with uni. I am over 75% of the way there now, but I think I’m gonna drop out. Yep, that’s it, I’m dropping out.” Guilty. I can’t really put my finger on what it is that really sends you to this point – for my course anyway, the work isn’t any harder than it was in first and second year, there isn’t any more work than previous years, either. I do think however the weighting of the year is pressurising (my final year accounts for 80% of my final grade), you have a number of educational years under your belt by this point so naturally you’re losing momentum, you have this burning temptation to always sack off deadlines and go have fun with your mates, “this could be our last EVER opportunity to go to the pub”, and you could just be over the whole uni thing by now. Keep at it, kids – I am a firm believer in there is little better feeling than walking out of that final exam, however guilty I am of doing all of the above.
5. Don’t get too hung up on the next steps. I have certainly found that over the last 6 months, people are chatting away about their plans post-uni. And on occasions, I have witnessed that flash of panic and doom across the faces of people when they hear one of their mates explain how they've landed a “one of a kind internship abroad that’s gonna, like, totally change my life”. People will go their own ways, and all of our decisions at some point are not going to go to plan, not matter how well they are planned or advertised – focus on you, do what you want and like to do, and slowly the answers will come. Falling into the competitive element of post-graduation is a really bad avenue to take - avoid at all costs.
6. However, don't get lazy. Having said the previous point, put some conscious thought into what you want to look into, what floats your boat and what values you stand for. Get in there early too peeps, be ready for when companies release their application windows, typically in September, if you’re looking for a grad scheme or internship. In order to take over the world, you have to put yourself out there in it first - remember that.
7. Do not create unnecessary pressure. So, at this stage of final year you should have a pretty good idea as to where you are with your grades, and what you’re expecting to graduate with. And if you get an assignment back that doesn’t quite reflect where it is you would like to be, please don’t stress. Firstly, one assignment is just a smidgen of your overall grade, secondly, if you have tried your best then that’s all you can ask of yourself. No one can keep up great grades all the time, or at least not without compromising something else important. And some things are never worth compromising, such your mental health or close relationships.
So basically, in a nutshell, these are the biggest realisations that have occurred to me in the last few weeks when reflecting on my university experience. As self-indulgent as this post has been, I hope this has been able to offer some pointers to those not just in final year but also about to start university, and in their first or second years. University is an experience like no other and unfortunately can be taken for granted until the last minute. Enjoy however much time you have left, and be excited for what’s around the corner for you – good things are to come!
For me, I have decided that despite my wallowing in self-pity, to do something different and worthwhile with my immediate post-graduation time, and am jetting off to Uganda for four weeks to take part in a charity volunteering project within a primary school. Keep your eyes peeled, I'll be back here with another blog post when I return in July to report back!
Enjoy your summers everyone!