Fourth year is exactly what my friends made it out to be; your home is now the library and a night out comes around as frequent as your birthday. Only joking, but it is noticeably harder than previous years, especially when you decide to have an uneven module weighting during the first term, agree to do some freelance work for your previous employer, all the while applying to graduate schemes before their deadlines. I found the following worked for me in order to stay on top of everything:
- If you’re going to work this year, be realistic as to how many hours you can do. A salary at uni is lovely especially after coming back from a paid year in industry, not to mention having freelance work on your CV, your grades can suffer however if you dedicate more time to this over your uni work. I chose to prioritise the latter and promised six hours (give or take) of freelance work a week. Another thing to keep in mind is don’t plan anything based on the first two weeks. If anything like my course, you don’t have any seminars/deadlines and obviously it will seem as if you have a lot of free time.
- You will be bombarded with grad scheme emails – it doesn’t hurt to start taking a look early and noting down some of the application closing dates. However apply to your absolute favourite ones first, the others can wait. Don’t be fooled by late closing dates however, some will bring back this date if they have enough applications already.
- It’s really easy to spend a larger portion of your time on one assessment than on another, so to manage my time efficiently and put my mind at ease that I was working on at least a little bit of everything each week, I started making a list of what to do each day for that particular week. So for example my time on Monday was dedicated towards my freelance work for four hours, then I would work on a grad scheme application or an assessment deadline. On Tuesday maybe I worked on a different module’s deadline and then swapped to something else so on. A simple process but I feel that two of the main causes of stress among uni students is the fact that we think that:
- we have more work to do than we actually have,
- we have less time to do it in than what we’ve actually got.
I found doing this useful to determine both of those amounts. This can change of course throughout the week, so be prepared to be flexible if one task has taken longer to work on than envisaged.
- Finally, you can and should have a social life/extra curricular activity/just time to yourself to balance everything out. Despite my heavy workload, I was able to join the yoga society — an hour and a half two days a week well spent after a long week!