If you want real advice, I’ve got some information which is actually helpful! Many third years find themselves looking back on their final year and wishing they’d worked harder. But in my opinion (and from experience) you absolutely do not have to live a life of isolation, holed up in the library term after term, to reach your full academic potential. In fact – I don’t really believe you have to give anything up in order to do well, and that you can even get involved in more extra-curricular activities, if that’s what you want to do. The key is organisation.
In my final year at university, I worked two jobs, was an officer on two society committees, got involved in numerous extra-curricular activities, had a great social life and managed to achieve a first in my degree subject. It was stressful at times because third year is a massive step up in terms of work load (obviously I can’t speak for every course). If you’re on an Arts degree like I was, you’re likely to have much more flexible work hours, which enables you to fit other things in. Some other courses, such as biomedical science or psychology are more like working full time, 9-5 jobs, which obviously means making time for yourself is much more difficult.
The thing is, however tough third year is in terms of workload, for many it’s your final year at university, living with and close to friends, having good nightlife and a huge amount of extra-curricular opportunities to get involved in on your doorstep. It’s a good idea to make the most of it while you can! Like I said, the key is being organised. Try not to leave all your work to the last minute – most importantly your dissertation – but also your other assignments too. If you get them started early, you’ll create a more flexible work environment for yourself. Schemes like the Student Ambassador programme which involves representing the university at open days and university fairs allow you to apply for work as and when it comes up, meaning you’ll never feel pressurised to work if you don’t want to. Bar or shift work is often much the same (if you don’t mind late nights).
You should never underestimate the effect of a proper break when studying or grinding out your dissertation. Clearing your head by going out with your friends, exercising, getting involved in society events, or even working can really help your stress levels, and when you return to your uni work, you’ll likely find it a lot easier to process with fresh eyes. Working yourself to the bone does do it for some, but don’t feel like you can’t ever take a break! You are human after all, and as long as you’re organised and plan around breaks you will stay on track!
We all know university is about much more than getting a good degree. It teaches you valuable life lessons and allows you to get involved in new things. Most importantly, it gives you great practice in balancing work with your other interests, something that we’ll all have to learn when we leave and start full time work anyway, so why not get in some practice now! There’s no reason why you can’t make the most of your final year while still working hard to achieve the best possible result you can!