My final year has recently come to an end, and as much as I would like to say I wouldn’t have done it any differently, there are some things that I’d change if I could do it all over again.
So here are my tips to help your final year go as smoothly as possible.
The final year of university is one of the most exciting chapters of your university journey. It’s the culmination of years of hard work and dedication and is one of the fastest and slowest years of your university experience.
There is more expectation academically and it can sometimes feel like a lot of pressure given that for most courses this is the year that has the highest weighting. Balancing your studies with your social life, and extracurricular activities, whilst keeping sane can be challenging but remember, everyone is in the same boat.
1. Establish a routine
Establishing a routine that works for you is crucial as it will help you manage your time effectively, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve academic performance. Setting a consistent schedule will ensure you are staying on track and not falling behind on the lectures, worksheets and readings, which will, in turn, make you feel more prepared for upcoming assessments and coursework.
If you’re returning from your placement year, this should come more naturally. You can treat your university studies as a regular 9 to 5 job. This way you can wind down in the evenings, doing what you like to relax and be prepared for the next day – essentially a healthy work-life balance.
Ensure you make time for exercise, preparing food, relaxation, any extracurricular activities, a part-time job and, of course, actually studying.
2. Dedicate time for graduate job search / postgraduate applications
Whether you’re planning to secure a graduate scheme or continue with your studies as a postgraduate, it’s good to have control over what you’ll be doing once you graduate. This will relieve stress and anxiety about what will happen after university is over.
If you searched for placements in your second year, you’ve probably heard this before: treat applications as a separate unit that you must study for.
Applying for jobs doesn’t involve just sending off your CV. It’s tailoring, writing a cover letter, completing numerical, verbal and psychometric tests, and preparing for interviews and the assessment centres. So you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time on an application.
Little tip for those who are eager to get a graduate scheme to start in August/September: start applying now! The majority of recruitment for competitive schemes starts in Autumn so start checking the careers websites.
However, also do think through the timing of your applications because you’ll find yourself being invited to complete a couple of different online assessments for different schemes with deadlines that may coincide with other university deadlines.
3. Use all of the resources available to you
There are so many services that the University offers to ensure you succeed. Just to name a few:
- Your personal tutor
- The Skills Centre
- Student Support
- The SU
Your personal tutor is your direct point of contact in your department who can offer assistance with your academic and personal growth, and signpost other services they think would be helpful for you. They are there to advise you, so it’s best to be honest with them.
The Skills Centre assists you in developing the skills you need to succeed academically and professionally. They offer lots of opportunities like skills enrichment workshops, writing tutorials, English and foreign language courses, maths and statistics support and lots of online resources to develop your digital and employability skills. You can find all these on MySkills.
CAREERS offer information, advice and guidance to students as well as graduates on everything relating to your job search. You can use MyFuture to access resources, book 1:1 appointments with careers consultants, and find the latest graduate job opportunities posted on the job board.
Student Support provides a range of services to help students on a personal level, whether it’s enhancing your wellbeing or managing your finances. They offer advice and guidance, self-help resources, workshops and courses, and 24/7 assistance through Be Well Talk Now.
The SU has the Advice & Support Centre that can offer academic, personal, and housing advice. It’s also where you can find part-time job listings as well as information on getting a job, interviews, and life after getting a job.
The biggest advice I can give, is don’t stay silent! The University is there to help you to get the most out of your time at university and you'll probably never have this much support available to you ever again, so make the most of it!
4. Get involved with extracurricular activities… with caution
University is not just about getting your degree, it’s also about getting all the different experiences and transferable skills that you can mention in your CV and interviews.
However, as it’s your final year, be careful how much you take on. At this stage, your academic work needs to take priority.
Being part of committees in sports or societies is a very good way to gain skills like teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, event organisation, social media, and admin. Societies and Sports Groups do have some empty spaces on their committees so do take the opportunity and put yourself out there if you know you have the time and can commit to it.
Even just attending a recreational sport session, or a weekly salsa class, will be that one activity that lets you wind down after your studies. If you’re passionate about it, it can act as a great hobby to put on your CV to add more variety and show more of your personality on paper.
One of the things that I got involved with in my final year was running for the SU Activities Officer role. It involved putting together a manifesto, participating in Q&A panels, recording a live podcast, coming up with and running a campaign whilst managing my campaign team.
Through this experience, I developed valuable skills such as leadership, public speaking, and project management. Running for this role was one of the best experiences I had at university, as it pushed me outside my comfort zone and provided me with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Have a look at the different extracurricular groups you can get involved with on the SU Bath website.
Quite an obvious one, but somehow, it’s very easily forgotten.
You may think that all-nighters are effective (I still do… and still am working on it), but you will still have to catch up with all that missed sleep eventually. I definitely avoided all-nighters in the library with a stock of ice coffee and energy drinks followed by a wasted a couple of days catching up on sleep!
Getting enough sleep promotes overall physical and mental health which will in turn improves academic performance. Better concentration, decision-making, and reduced stress levels are just some of the benefits of having enough sleep.
6. Take care of yourself
As part of your routine, taking time for yourself is very important. It’s a time to distract yourself from your studies and all other commitments.
Think about the things that you enjoy doing. Whether that’s watching a series, listening to music, exercising, dancing, reading a book, meditating, or even having a chat with your housemate or parents about how you’re feeling.
7. Just enjoy it! You’re not alone!
Most importantly, enjoy your final year! For many, this will probably be the last time you’ll be in a student setting when everyone is in the same boat. You’re not alone!
If you’ve got any more final year survival tips, please share them in the comments.