As I enter the third week of the first semester of my final year at university, I am unsure whether to feel excited that I’m on the home stretch or overwhelmed at the mere thought of all the hours of lectures, essays, sleepless nights, stress, exam preparation, coffee and more coffee that lies ahead in 2015.
I chose to not pursue University immediately after completing my V.C.E at high school. Instead, I opted for a gap year, that then turn into two and three and four. At the time I watched my boyfriend and best friends work their way through their Bachelor degrees, graduate and eventually start a career while I continued to plod along through life; happy and content, but always wondering what life lay ahead for me.
Now, well and truly in the swing of things and two semesters away from putting on that renowned gown and cap, I share with you my top tips for getting through University:
When I say choose wisely, I mean choose a study discipline that you are going to enjoy. It isn’t the be all and end all if you choose wrong, in fact it wouldn’t be the first time someone has started a degree and changed through the course, or even finished an entire degree only to discover that’s not the right career choice for them. Think about what you like, what you dislike, what you enjoy and what you absolutely dread doing. Do you like working with numbers or do you like reading, writing and working with words? Do you like working with and helping people or would you prefer to work autonomously in a laboratory?
Either way, you want to focus your studies around something that you are going to enjoy learning and increasing your knowledge of. I assure you that this will make learning the content much easier and dare I say it, Fun!
This comes naturally to some people, while others have to practice. I certainly fell in the latter of the two, but have now trained myself to be more organised than I have known myself to be in my entire 25 years of life. A full-time study load at most Australian Universities is 4 subjects per semester and I suggest structuring your subject content prior to or at the beginning of the semester.
Purchase a diary; this will become your best friend. I like to print off the subject outlines prior to the semester starting, assign a different colour to each subject and work my way through the outline marking dates in my diary of things I need to remember: lectures, tutorials, assessments due and tests. By colour coordinating each subject, it acts a visual distinction between each subject and reduces confusion. Also, by making notes in your diary of important dates you can see what lies ahead that week and the next few weeks and organise your time accordingly, so that you aren’t struggling to complete an assessment the night before due date!
(If a diary is not your thing then you could even get a yearly planner, a whiteboard, black board or even use your smart phone or tablet.)
Study with individuals who are going to promote your growth and development, and not distract you from the task at hand.
I absolutely love my girlfriends, but I know that when we get together we will talk boyfriends, clothes, make-up or the weather, in fact absolutely anything to avoid studying. So, although a little cut throat, I choose not to sit with them during study time. I personally choose to study alone in the University library, as I find this has minimal distractions. I’ve always hated studying at home because of the distractions of TV and food, my two weaknesses.
But that’s not to say it’s not possible to study with other people. It’s a great way of bouncing ideas off each other and lifting spirits when the semester gets a little hectic. It also allows you to test each other’s knowledge, teach each other new things as well as new ways of learning or approaching the content. Studying with other people may open your eyes to an idea you previously missed.
Getting support also comes in the form of family, or your friends outside of university, or your boyfriend/girlfriend. I love having a jam packed day of study and coming home to my boyfriend and watching movies. Lean on your support network when you’re stressed or overwhelmed, and share your excitement when you do well on that assessment you’d stressed over.
This is vital. Whatever your relaxation method, do it. It is important to remain balanced mentally, emotionally and physically during your University studies as this will ensure a clear head and focused mind. Be positive about your learning, and persevere if you are struggling or didn’t receive the mark you were hoping for.
Listen to music. Go for a run. Do yoga and meditation. Have a night out dancing with the girls. Cook a great meal. Curl up with a good book. Whatever helps you to relax is my suggestion.
And lastly, have fun. Some would say these are the best years of your life.
Hope this inspired and helped at least one of you