I’m sat here around the pool writing this blog article after my first term of my final year at university. It’s safe to say that this “break” is 150% needed. The reason I say “break” with speech marks is because although I am having a break, I have swapped the typical holiday read for my dissertation topic text books…
As of September I’ve had to get back into the mind frame of being at uni, working part time and trying to sustain a healthy lifestyle and a social life. Some may say that you unfortunately can’t have all of those!
I think all final year students would agree that the step up from year 2 to year 3 is incredibly big, and preparing for that in hindsight would have been a good idea.
We were issued assignments at the beginning of the year, plus our dissertation was also launched. By December I had to produce:
- 1,500 word critical analysis on Consumer Behaviour theories
- 1,000 word literature review on traditional vs. contemporary marketing
- 2,000 word analysis on the past and present marketing strategies of a company of my choice (I chose Ryanair)
- 2,000 word creative marketing brochure
- Self recorded 15 minute presentation
For my dissertation we were also required to create the proposal (which is worth 10% of the overall grade), start reading around the subject area we have chosen to focus on to aid the written literature review, and start to plan the methodology for the research.
It’s a lot, right?
How to manage it
I’ve put together a few tips I think helped me massively reduce stress levels this term, which I will definitely be using next term when stress levels will be even higher with the anticipation of completing my dissertation…
One of my key strengths that I boast about pretty often is how organised I am. I like to have everything in order… It just makes me feel a lot more comfortable when things are planned out in advance. The same applies to my university work.
I made sure that at the beginning of term I bought a dated diary for the academic year, and plotted in all of my deadlines for each of my modules (each module colour coded). I then made a note of what needed to be done to get the work finished at least a week earlier than the deadline. This encouraged me to work to specific goals each week, and progressively complete the work at hand.
I ended up having two weeks at the end of term to myself as I had completed all of the work!
This type of organisation doesn’t work for everyone. A lot of people wouldn’t start the work until it really needs to be done, and some people find they work better under pressure.
Staying in touch with your university lecturers and supervisors is really important because they will always (99% of the time) be there to support you. If you’re not sure of something make sure you use the drop in session to ask them questions, send them emails, make use of what they are there for!
Support from your course mates is also a big one which helped me through this term. As a group of students we got on well anyway, but being so close and helping each other out with assignments is key. If you’re unsure on something but don’t want to ask your lecturer, ask a course mate instead!
Sometimes you just need a good night out. Getting the balance right between work and play was a big part of my learning curve this term. Literally, rewarding myself in social time was a key motivation to getting work done. As long as I completed X amount of work I could take the weekend off.
For example, instead of going out every week, myself and my two flat mates would arrange specific nights out, like for Halloween and Christmas. I also managed to get a specific amount of work done before the end of November and so treated myself to a weekend off university work and took a trip to Leeds with my boyfriend.
These tips are my way of reducing stress levels and being ‘at one’ with the university work load that gets thrown at you during the final stage of your degree. Let me know how you cope with reducing stress levels at university in the comments box…