With (if we’re lucky) just about a couple weeks left of classes this academic year, undergraduate third years hailing from far and wide might find themselves with snow, strikes, and honours level work induced stress. Yet upon closer reflection, you might find that your source of stress is actually the great unknown: the number of changes sure to come in the next couple years or so. With the latest chapter (and for some, the final installation) of one’s academic career drawing to a close, the next few months or years of transitions, adaptations, and changes might seem daunting. Transitions, goodbyes, and the slow but sure realisation that your occupation as ‘STUDENT’ will be no more in around a year’s time can be startling. But! One must not worry. With summer just around the corner, a plethora of academic resources and support, and the invaluable friendships, it is possible for third-year undergrads to enter the next year with enthusiasm, confidence, and zeal.
By this point in the semester, it can be easy to get caught up in worrying about deadlines, exam stress, and summer plans, or for others, to slip into a dreamy, unfocused state, distracted by the rain, the cold grey and windy weather (where is that floral, sunny, Scottish spring?), and nostalgic array of emotions that comes with another school year coming to a close. This is all fine and normal, but third years should keep in mind that being in session means being around the necessary information and individuals to learn more about their options for next year’s modules, dissertations, and final year projects. While some departments might have offered modules this semester dedicated entirely to preparing for dissertation work, others interested in writing a dissertation next year might need to be a little more proactive to obtain the necessary information. It might be nice to be proactive and take advantage of advisors’ and coordinators’ office hours, send out the necessary emails, and to check out your department’s websites for any informational booklets and files. Look out for any information on upcoming informational talks, as this is probably the time frame for those too.
Apart from preparing for a dissertation, students might want to consider their options for next year’s classes. The module handbook for the next academic year is online, and while they are still subject to change, can prove to be very useful in planning one’s tentative academic schedule next year. Doing such prep work now rather than later not only will help set you up for the next school year, but also allow you to dedicate your time and energy this summer to other work experiences, activities, non-academic endeavours, and FUN.
A lot of us might have heard by now that the summer before one’s final year of university is crucial for securing a meaningful internship and gaining work experience, the potential starting point for a career out of university. While this is definitely true, your final summer vacation mustn’t be all work and no play. Strive to find a balance between work and play — visit that kooky great aunt you’ve got living in rural Alaska, meet your pen pal of four years for the first time in real life, unplug from social media and go on that spiritual journey trekking through the rural temples of Thailand you’ve always dreamed of visiting. What I’m saying, is, the academic calendar and student life has provided you with a set amount of free time to do with as you please, so enjoy your summer break and don’t get too caught up in plotting and planning for the future.
If you find yourself unable to travel, needing to stay close to home, or already have a 9-5 work week waiting for you come June, there are many activities and options to consider for a (mostly) youthful and carefree summer. It might be great to see your family and friends in your hometown, or appreciate the place for what it is and has become since you left it a few years ago. Get a job, earn some extra money, and try something out you’ve never done before, whether it be baking a new kind of cookie or going bungee jumping. If interning or working in a new city, there are obvious perks to a new job, exploring a new place, seeing new sights and meeting new people.
For those of us that do get distracted by the end of the year stress amidst the alluring Scottish spring, try to find the right balance between fun activities as just mentioned, whilst still taking advantage of the time to set yourself up in the best way possible for your final year at university. It’s never too late to get in touch with the necessary university staff , though it might be more difficult to get a response from them during the vacation. Also, the website should still have some information on the next academic year. Speak to trusted individuals new and old. Ask questions! You never know what you might discover or learn that can help guide you towards your plan, or alter it into something completely new.
Academics aside, the end of the semester can also lead to changes in one’s social life, as the end of this school year brings inevitable goodbyes to friends moving on to further studies, work opportunities, travels, and generally, their lives.
You’re losing part of the community you’ve grown with, and their absences will be felt. Realising that close friends and loved ones will no longer be so close in proximity can be sad and daunting, and it is a sad thing. But there is no point on dwelling on this. You’ve been given a chance to cultivate greener friendships, and to meet new people. You will definitely meet new people, and it’s smart to take advantage of this whilst still in such an even-natured, safe, and somewhat secluded space that is the Bubble.
As for those friends who have entered a new, post-university chapter of their lives, your friendships with those individuals will remain. It is simply the nature and circumstance of the relationship that changes, just as people, circumstances, and things do every single day. Change is inevitable, especially at this crucial point in our lives, when every one of us will probably move and embark on new ad-ventures and endeavours across the globe. But with Facetime to Instagram and the whole array of social media outlets in between, keeping in touch is that much easier, and friends remain just a press of a button away.
Naturally, one’s path out of university and the transition to their next phase of events vary drastically depending on the individual and their situation. There will be some third-year students out there who might not feel remotely stressed at all. But for those who are feeling nervous, stressed, scared or unsure about what is to come, this is totally natural.
However, we can all feel positive about our futures. This may seem obvious, but hopefully, it brings a little reassurance for those with any feelings of doubt or worry. So, my advice is to seize this summer, savour it, and enjoy!Get out there and have fun, because the sun should come out eventually.