University Life: Year Three
Before I start, if you haven't already, please check out my two previous posts in this series, which centre around your first and second years of university.
Your third (and most probably final) year of university is possibly the most stressful of the lot. You have so much to contend with, such as writing your dissertation, finding a job, and dealing with the fact that life as you know it is soon going to be coming to an end, just to name a few.
In this post, I am planning on going through EVERYTHING that your third year of university has to offer and try to calm any nerves you may have as you go into this year, whilst also trying to keep it as real as possible for you as I don't want to be promising you that final year is an easy ride because it's not. I am also going to try and not relate it to COVID as my entire third year was impacted by the pandemic, but hopefully, you won't experience the same thing and will be able to actually experience your third year of university the way it's meant to be experienced.
I think one of the main things you will experience in your third year of university is writing your dissertation. This is quite possibly one of the biggest projects you will work on whilst you are at university, and if not that then your entire life. It can be quite scary at first, but if you continuously work at it throughout the year, it will give you less work to do last minute. I got a first in mine and am going to be writing a post all about how to get a first in your dissertation in the next few weeks, so make sure to keep an eye out for that. The beauty of a dissertation is that it is completely unique to you. I had a slightly different experience with my dissertation as I was doing it during COVID, so actually never got to do primary research and did secondary research instead. Primary research is where you are able to go out and carry out interviews and questionnaires directly with people; whereas secondary research is where you get all your information from policy documents and research that has already been carried out. One quick tip I will give you now is to get all of the planning and research (whether it be primary or secondary) done sooner rather than later as this will make it so much easier for you when it comes to actually writing your dissertation. And make sure you attend all of your meetings with your dissertation supervisor and anytime you are stuck, ask either them or your peers for help.
Another pretty big thing about being in your final year of university is trying to find a job. I finished my degree in May of this year and still haven't found myself a job yet. I am currently doing a bit of freelance writing work whilst I try to find something, but that currently doesn't pay very much and I would actually like to do something that doesn't involve me sitting in my room on my own like I have been doing for the past two years. My main bit of advice on the job front would be to apply to things sooner rather than later, especially where grad jobs are concerned. These are few and far between and when there are thousands of other students also wanting these jobs, it can be quite competitive. Try not to get your hopes up on getting the first job you apply for, as chances are that won't happen. Everyone seems to paint finishing university as a great time where you can easily find a job and that just isn't the case, especially when you are finishing university during a pandemic where there are even fewer jobs as no one can afford to employ anybody. Just try and stay as patient and as positive as you can. Job hunting is incredibly tiresome and if you find yourself getting burnout, take a break from it for a few days, or even weeks. Talk to the careers department at your university and see if they can give you any advice or know of anywhere that is hiring. If you graduate from university and still don't have a job lined up (which many don't, so don't worry if this happens to be you), you can always apply for jobs unrelated to your field of study or you could apply for part-time jobs just to get you by whilst looking for something else. You might actually find that you prefer doing one of these jobs to anything in the field you studied for. It's incredibly tough and exhausting, but just remember that you WILL find something at one stage or another. Of course, you could always apply to go on to do a post-graduate degree, such as a Master's or a PhD. I have chosen not to go down this root as, to be completely honest, I am more than done with education. I have no idea what the process is like of applying for postgraduate study, but if it is something you are wanting to do as soon as you finish your undergraduate degree instead of going off to have a gap year or getting a job, it is best to start looking into the university(ies) you want to go to and the course you want to do and applying for these sooner rather than later as I'm fairly sure places are limited and regardless of that, it's best to be ahead and get your place secured, just to ease the pressure off you and so you know what you're working towards. If you're reading this and have gone on to do a post-graduate degree and have any advice, please feel free to comment down below or if you have a blog post or YouTube video all about it, please feel free to leave the link to that in the comments also.
Another option, of course, is a gap year. I was initially planning on taking a gap year when I finished my A-Levels in 2018 as I wanted to go travelling, particularly in Australia. However, I decided it would be best to leave this until after I finished university as I was already in the flow of doing things such as essays and didn't want to lose that flow (as well as having the very small issue of not having enough money to be able to afford to go travelling). Obviously, Corona had other ideas and has put my plans for doing a gap year between now and next year on hold. I know that borders are starting to open up now, but things are still so uncertain and as the main country I want to visit is Australia, whose borders are completely closed to tourists (I think), I don't see the point in doing any of that now and I am waiting until I have a bit more money and have got a full and proper plan in my head of exactly what I want to go and do. Hopefully, if you are just starting your final year and want to take a gap year, you shouldn't have this problem next year and hopefully, if this is the plan for you, you are able to go through with it. If anyone reading this has done a gap year at any stage, whether that is before or after university, please feel free to leave your advice in the comments, along with any links to any blog posts or YouTube videos you may have done or have come across that give anyone wanting to go on a gap year some good advice.
Another of the main issues I have found with finishing university is trying to get back into 'normal life'. To me, it kind of feels weird how we have to start off by having the proper structure of a school day of 9-3 five days a week, then going on to sixth form/college/an apprenticeship, where the days/hours vary depending on the type of place you go to but is a bit more relaxed than school, and finally, you have university, where most people are only in a maximum of three days a week and the most amount of hours you'll do in a day is only about four or five and the majority of the time, everything's pretty relaxed. So to go from this to having to have a proper structure is scary in many ways. The thought of having to wake up at a certain time and go to bed at a certain time scares me and I guess I should probably try and get a proper sleep schedule in place in preparation for this, instead of waking up when I want and going to bed when I want. This is just a part of life, I suppose, but again, if anyone has any suggestions on how to deal with this, then leave your suggestions in the comments below.
The good thing about third year is that at the end of it, you get to celebrate your achievement with your family and friends at your graduation. Due to Covid, I have not yet been able to experience my graduation and have absolutely no idea when, or if, that is going to happen. It's difficult in many ways as university wasn't exactly the most enjoyable time for me as I really struggled in many ways all the way throughout it, so I'm not entirely sure if I would like to go to my graduation for those reasons. I guess this is because I am fully done with that part of my life and don't really want to revisit it. But I know that for most people, graduation is a wonderful celebration of the past three years and you absolutely deserve to celebrate every moment of that time. It's your final bit of closure on this chapter of your life and I can promise you that by the end of it, you will be super proud of yourself for everything you have achieved. So enjoy it while it lasts, have fun, and take the time to celebrate everything that has happened with your nearest and dearest.
I hope you enjoy your final year of university as much as you can. It's not easy, but hopefully, you'll be able to look back on your time with fond memories.
If you have any more questions about third year, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. Or you can email them to me, or send me a DM over on Twitter or Instagram. Alternatively, if you have any words of advice for anyone reading this who are going into their final year of university that I have failed to mention, please feel free to leave that advice in the comments below also. Best of luck for the future!
Love Beth xx