My top 5 tips of what NOT to do in your first semester of final year!

As my last ever first semester of being a student slowly comes to an end this month, I decided to reflect on how quick the semester flew by (because it was non-stop hectic) and what I have learnt from this semester.

You always hear warnings from other people about how much more intense and busy final year is compared to your first and second year at university. Majority of the time you simply brush off these comments and don’t think about them until the time comes. Next thing you know you’re a final year student, it’s week one and you are being bombarded with assignment deadlines, dissertation classes, weekly seminar work and academic reading that you cannot get away with not reading, unlike most of us students did in first and second year.

From reflecting on the above and the past 12 weeks of university I have decided to share my top 5 tips of what NOT to do in your first semester of final year.

(Note: some of these may or may not apply to me)

  1. Don’t leave assignments to the last minute

Bit of an obvious one but one that is almost impossible to get away with in final year. In final year you have to up your game meaning more references, analysis, examples, attention to detail and paraphrasing! Personally, I’m quite an organised person but I panic a-lot so I always leave myself a good amount of time to start assignments. My biggest downfall is that I’m slow at everything and it probably takes me twice the amount of time to do the same assignment as any other normal person. If you are also that person … start early!

Don’t be like this boy below:

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  1. Don’t take that after university nap!!

A-lot of us are probably guilty of this and if I’m being honest, I fully support daytime napping and sometimes even naps before bed. Although what I would have to strongly protest is that you don’t be like this guy:

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Especially when it’s a week or two before you have a few upcoming deadlines and you tell yourself ‘It’s fine I still have plenty of time’ … no you do not have plenty of time so sacrifice those naps!

  1. Don’t waste your time in the library – be productive!

If like myself, you feel you work better in the library then use your time wisely when you are there. For the first time, this semester since I started university I have spent days/evenings in the quiet part of Jordanstown library until it closes in an attempt to get as much of my assignments done as possible.

Although on more than one occasion I have found myself staring into space, scrolling through my phone, taking ‘study breaks’ when I’ve barely started, until the inside of my brain looks like this:

By procrastinating through doing all of the above I manage to waste a good 5/6 hours and achieve nothing. For future library visits and to avoid procrastination in the library try switching off your phone, bring cold bottled water to stay alert, and work towards a personal target next time.

  1. Don’t sit through a lecture and not take notes

Note-taking is extremely important in final year simply because repeating your lecturer’s notes in an assignment or exam is a thing of the past for final year students and is no longer enough to get you a high grade. If you struggle like me (because I’m slow at doing anything) to write at a speed that keeps up with what the lecturer is saying, then you will find that using your laptop to take detailed notes is so much easier than annotating around printed lecture slides.

  1. Do not watch 3 hours of YouTube to “Get you in the zone” before starting an assignment

Avoid YouTube at all costs when deadlines are looming! You think that watching a 30 minute ‘Vlogmas’ video is acceptable before you begin an assignment, but the next thing you know your 5 hours into a series of ‘Vlogmas’ videos and you soon realise you have wasted yet another day of attempting university assignments … don’t be that guy!

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Nicole Hanna is a final year BSc student in Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn at https://goo.gl/pLviS8 or on Twitter @NicoleHanna101