You’re entering your final year of University, and are probably sat wondering where on Earth the past three or four years have gone. In many ways, you have been building up to this moment. The year that equates to 75% of your degree, the last 12 months of Walkabout Wednesdays and the dreaded, dare I say it, dissertation module. I remember being sat there this time last year experiencing a whole plethora of emotions; sadness, apprehensiveness, excitement, determination. Especially given the current global circumstances, it is understandable if you are feeling these x10 at the prospect of heading back to Birmingham come September. However, fear not, as in an attempt to put your minds at ease I am here to share my top advice for tackling your final year at Aston.
Organisation is key
Personally, I believe the absolute essential piece of advice to give for a successful final year is to be organised. This doesn’t just mean knowing which rooms your lectures are in, although that’s a good start, but keeping track of your assignments, readings, dissertation deadlines and job applications, all whilst turning up to all of your lectures (yes, this is possible). Admittedly, and expectedly, final year does provide a jump up in terms of workload compared to previous years meaning keeping on track is more important than ever. Having a diary to schedule your days or making to-do lists are excellent ways to ensure you stay on top of this workload and make effective use of your time. Failing to do so will likely result in you falling behind, creating increased, unmanageable work for you further in the term. Given the 75% weighting of the year, you definitely don’t want that added stress and pressure come deadline and exam season.
Don’t let job hunting consume you
Although entering final year causes reality to hit with the sudden realisation that, come July, you are no longer a student, don’t allow this to spark panic. As I just mentioned, graduate job applications become another ball to juggle during the year. Having said that, if your modules are providing as much workload as you can manage then do not be afraid to allow job hunting to take a back seat. It is true that many large graduate schemes begin their application process early in the year and therefore if these are your goal you may have to get the ball rolling from early on. Nevertheless, adopt the mindset that your imminent University deadlines should be a main priority, there will always be time for job applications further down the line or even next year if necessary. Initially, I would recommend working on your CV and getting advice from the Careers+Placements team to ensure it is up to scratch and ready to fire off when you get the chance. Making use of the Careers team is vital, they can massively help you figure out your options and make your next steps post-University seem a lot less daunting.
Adopt a ‘normal’ sleeping schedule
If you’ve just completed your placement year, you might think that this is now just your new normal. But I can assure you, it is extremely easily to quickly fall out of the habit of getting up and going to bed at reasonable times once you’re back into student living. Late nights are inevitable at University and I’d never say to wipe them out entirely but sticking to a good sleeping schedule the majority of the time will be a massive benefit. Firstly, you will seriously thank yourself by the time starting your graduate job comes around. It makes the first month or two a lot more bearable if you don’t feel like a walking zombie for the first four hours each morning. Secondly, going back to my previous point, it means you can make much better, effective use of your time and help with keeping on top of those ever-amounting deadlines.
Don’t forget to enjoy yourself!
Probably the most important advice I can give is to remember that this is your last year in education and your last chance to enjoy the University lifestyle. Working hard is important but please remember to play hard too. It is undeniable that you will miss these years once they have passed you by, I miss them already, so be sure to make the most of social opportunities and enjoy the final year of your friends living in the next-door bedroom to you. People always claim that University “will be the best years of your life” and so, whether that turns out to be true or not, you don’t want to look back with any regrets of not making the most of your final year. Yes, you want to feel proud of your degree result once July comes around, but you will also never get this last year of University back again. If you sensibly schedule your time, I promise you will have no trouble in hitting your desired grades as well as having a year to remember.
Good luck and enjoy yourself!
Written by Katie Oliver, 2020 Aston Graduate