The Final Year of University: A Survival Guide

The Final Year of University: A Survival Guide

Hey undergraduate, your much-​​awaited final year is finally here! Not too long until you get to the light at the end of the tunnel, eh? According to some humans (mainly graduates), university is the best time of your life. But is this really true? Because, for most of us, it’s a goddamn rollercoaster ride. No but seriously, I think that university is more about having a good experience than stressing out over exams. I presume a final year (in fact, every academic year) is like playing Candy Crush: most of us find it annoying but we play it anyway, which often results in trying our best to get that pesky little ball of chocolate (or donut, or whatever it is). Excuse the lame analogy. The point is that being an undergraduate is pretty enjoyable, and a little bit challenging at the same time. So here are a few simple tricks to make, what is your most significant year, stress-​​free!

“Fail to plan, plan to fail” – Winston Churchill

Organisation, and planning skills are essential – because who doesn’t want to throw the best graduation party, right? We pretty much learn and develop these skills in the first couple of years of being an undergrad. So, I guess our final year is the time to actually, er use those skills. The first and simple step to start off is to get a calendar! Highlight all the important academic dates, including the date your first semester ends begins.

Reading course materials and taking notes about interesting or important ideas is always a good idea. Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by mgrap.

Reading course materials and taking notes about interesting or important ideas is always a good idea. Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by mgrap.

During the beginning of the academic year, make a list of any books or study materials you need for each module/​class. Read relevant resources during your first semester – do some light reading just to get the drift of main topics. I’d also suggest you to read relevant academic papers because publications provide in-​​depth information on topics you need to know more about.

Put yourself in a habit of cleaning up your study area – this will help you to start afresh and, to be quite honest, it feels good! It doesn’t, and in fact shouldn’t take more than a maximum of 15 minutes. It’s a doddle!

“You’ve got to work hard for your success and you’ve got to have a steady presence. That’s the secret.” – Kid Rock

Your presence (and participation) at university is crucial for your academic success. Why? Because it benefits not only you but your friends too! (How? So they can have a peaceful lie-​​in without worrying that there wouldn’t be anybody to copy notes from.) On a serious note – please! Please! Try not to miss any scheduled lecture and project meetings. I cannot stress this enough.

Physically going into university also means you can appreciate the gorgeous campus, right? Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by orz_px.

Physically going into university also means you can appreciate the gorgeous campus, right? Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by orz_​px.

We often struggle to get up early in the morning, and realising that you have to walk/​commute to university for just one-​​hour long lecture is such a killjoy! You get this feeling that there is absolutely no point of going in – but think about it! It’s your last year of being an undergraduate. You worked your ass off to get to this final year, so hang in there! You are nearly at graduation!

“Dude! Skiving few classes is no biggie because lectures are available online!” So is your academic record, dude! Joking apart, lecture slides mostly provide you a summary of what your lecturer plans to teach. Ask any lecturer – there’s always at least some important information that he/​she can’t condense into slides, simply because it’s less complicated to explain it by writing on a board. Your job is to keep a note of all the points covered in a lecture, because more often than not, the information your professor writes on board is exactly what pops up in final exam. (Annoying!) Also, being present gives you a golden opportunity of asking questions in person – which I think is less daunting than sending an e-​​mail.

“It is perfectly okay to write garbage – as long as you edit brilliantly.” – C. J. Cherry

This has nothing to do with your exams, just to be clear. When it comes to writing either a lab report or a first draft of your dissertation, don’t spend too much time worrying about where to begin. As you know, a good writing plan must include what key points need to be covered, what data to include, and so on. Try to get your writing plan sorted out while carrying out your project. Now, when you’re ready to work on a piece of coursework, just write and simply write! Worrying about spelling mistakes and other trivial things at an early stage is unnecessary. Try to cover most (if not all) the key points. Take short breaks, watch Netflix, travel around the world, adopt a panda, and then continue working on your assignment with a fresh mind!

Always take a break from studying when your surroundings yield to a gorgeous, yet persistent, soft focus. Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by meyerfelix.

Always take a break from studying when your surroundings yield to a gorgeous, yet persistent, soft focus. Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by meyerfelix.

There are, of course, plenty of tips to get good grades. However, I don’t really believe that studying round the clock is what helps us to survive our college/​university years. You know what we really need to help us get through? Alcohol! …is not what we need. We need to be more positive. We need to slow down every now and then. We need to stop worrying about the future. We just need to enjoy ourselves – because, let’s face it, it’s all going to be over soon.

“College is the best time of your life. When else are your parents going to spend several thousand dollars a year just for you to go to a strange town and get drunk every night?” ― David Wood

Creative Commons licensed Flickr header photo by kingbob86.