university graduation

The Talk: Navigating your last semester at university

9 mins read

Congratulations! You’ve pretty much made it. After three and a half years, seven semesters and probably countless nights out, you’ve nearly finished university. All you have left to contend with is one final semester, and then that’s you. You can graduate and then go off and do whatever it is you want to (or you can always come back for a Masters, if you’re that way inclined).

Maybe you’re glad that it’s almost over – studying for a degree can be hugely stressful, and the sooner you never have to do an essay again, the better. Perhaps you’re sad – for all the stress, university can also be a time of new experiences and new friends. Maybe you don’t know how you feel. Regardless, here are some tips on navigating that final semester, from someone who did it this time last year.

The journey might be hard, but the DISStenation is worth it.

Chances are, your last few months are going to be dominated by one thing; a dissertation. I’ll be totally honest, you’re probably going to start thinking of the Study Zone or the Library as a second home. The thing about the dissertation though is, while it’s certainly not the sort of thing anyone would choose to do, it’s also not as bad as you probably think it is.

In truth, January is probably one of the two most stressful points in the process. Right now, you’re staring down the barrel of having thousands of words to write, and it can be pretty daunting. Once you start though, you’ll find that it’ll all become a bit more manageable.

As you approach your deadline, it’ll probably get a bit more stressful. But, if there’s one bit of advice I’d give you it would be to try and compartmentalise it. Take it day-by-day, chapter-by-chapter.

You’ll have good days and bad days. There will probably be days where the stress of it will feel like a lot, and there will be days where you feel a lot more confident about what you’re doing. That’s totally normal. Likewise, there will be days when you get loads of work done and there will be days when you struggle to do anything. Try not to stress too much when you’re on an off day.

And always remember, that you will finish. And when you do, it’s such a great feeling. Plus, you’ll get a decent number of likes on any “loch-pic” Instagram post, so that’s a win.

Make the most of your last few months

It’s really hard to do, especially once you get into March/April time, but try and remember that your dissertation doesn’t need to be your whole life. Make sure you give yourself enough breaks, but also make sure that you make time to have some fun. Honestly, it might be the only thing that helps you to maintain some semblance of sanity in the last couple of weeks before your diss deadline.

More importantly though, this will be your last couple of months living a life that you have had for years now. Take the time to make some final memories before people start moving away and this experience comes to an end. The last thing you want to do is get to summer and realise that you didn’t make the most out of your university experience.

It can literally be as simple as organising a massive night out with your friends before everyone leaves – things like this are great because it gives you a chance to make some memories, but it can also help to give you a bit of closure.

Expect the ending to feel quite abrupt

Even though you’ve spent four years studying for this course, the ending comes really quickly. One minute you are knees-deep in coursework, and then the next minute it’s all done. After that, there are only a couple of weeks before people will start to move away. Given how long you’ve spent here it will probably all feel really sudden.

That can make it hard to process, especially if you’ve not made the most of the last semester. So, try and do as much as you can.

But also, don’t be embarrassed if you feel a bit sad or empty once you’ve left or when your friends are leaving. University is, for better or worse, an experience – and it’s only natural that it would be emotional coming to the end of it.

That applies if you hang around in Stirling or if you move away. Last year, I stayed in Stirling over the summer (and then did a master’s for reasons I’m not 100 per cent sure of) and what struck me was how empty the place felt. It does takes a bit of getting used to.

You’ll definitely still see the people that matter most (though maybe not as often as you’d like)

That being said, remember that you will still stay in touch with your friends. And, although it won’t be as often as before, you’ll also still see them. Sometimes, life will get in the way and it may be a while between seeing them, but they’ll still be there.

Sure, you might not see all the randoms that always seem to be in Fubar – but that’s okay.

If it’s any consolation as well, the opportunity for being nosey on social media improves dramatically after graduation too. People go away and do their own things and it can be pretty cool seeing what everyone’s up to.

Go to graduation (and the ball too)

Aside from being a moment where all of your hard work comes together and is celebrated, graduation is also a great opportunity to catch up with the people you’ve spent the past few years with. It’s a really nice day for you to spend with your friends and family, and an opportunity to look back on your time in university.

In the same sense, grad ball is a decent night out, and it’s one last opportunity to go out and have a good time with the people who have made your university experience what it’s been. The added bonus is that you probably won’t see a lot of the people that are there again. So, you can really feel free to totally embarrass yourself if you want.

It might be slightly emotional, as will most of this semester – but it’s a great opportunity to go out with a bang.

Featured Image Credit: University of Stirling

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