The life of a final year student: part 7 – A guide to the final semester

Today marks the first day of the last semester of my degree. With this in mind I’ve put together some fail-safe tips to carry students through the final few months of their lives as they know them, which I’ve picked up throughout my degree.

By now final years’ minds should be firmly locked in pro position. This means switching thoughts of free time with endless job applications, online profile pimping and the general act of getting your name heard in the world of graduate recruitment. Of course this is easy to do while forgetting your academic work still needs your attention too, so the best way of thinking is to treat university like a full time job, here’s how:

Get up early: It’s not as bad as it sounds and gets a lot easier once you start doing this everyday. You’ll be amazed at how much longer the day seems and how much work you can fit into it.

Schedule your day: Once you’re equipped with a busy day this will seem less like an option and more of a necessity. I try and split the day in two: mornings for personal work like applications, and afternoons for uni work. Of course, you can get as detailed as you want, planning right down to the hour but try to start off simple. You might even find you have the occasional free evening!

Imagine there’s more at stake: So you’ve left an assignment too late again? What’s the worst that’ll happen, you’ll lose 5 marks? Imagine you’re in a work situation and you’ve missed a deadline. You won’t just have 5% of your pay cut, you’ll probably lose that client, and anyone they might have referred to you. In other words, potentially big cash. You lose the company big cash – the company might lose you.

Ask questions: So many students do badly on assignments because they didn’t really ‘get’ the question. At work you wouldn’t just hesitate a guess at where the Type X, 2 pt mega ZZ file is kept until you got it wrong and accidentally released something to Wikileaks, you’d ask someone. Spend more time talking to your tutors; use office hours to discuss your assignments, however well you think you understand them, you’re paying tuition for a reason!

Plan well ahead: The chances are you’ll know your assignment deadlines early on in the semester. Plan how many weeks you intend to spend researching and writing to produce a structured timetable. Oh, and try and stick to it.

Just as importantly, remember: if like me this is your BIG, FINAL, LAST EVER semester, enjoy it! Make an extra effort to fit in things you’ll never have the chance to do again. Try out that sports team you never got around to and volunteer at a society. It won’t do the CV any harm and you’ll have fun making your last semester the best one.

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