As many students would agree, entering final year of University is extremely daunting but yet quite exciting. As you mentally prepare yourself all summer for the dreaded dissertation and promise yourself you will be organised this year; you buy a diary so you know your deadlines and make your way to Paperchase for pretty notebooks and matching files, pens and highlighters in every colour possible – you feel ready for it all to begin. Now, all of a sudden, it’s March. It feels like only a few weeks ago that Christmas was approaching, as were the deadlines, half the overpriced Paperchase pens were missing, your Christmas Spirit was overshadowed by that 3000 word assignment and the stress was absolutely real. Despite the amount of times you heard, “You’ll be finished before you know it”, you felt there was literally no light at the end of the tunnel. But, here we are, now a matter of weeks from ‘the end of an era’ and emotions right now are well and truly mixed; stress, fear, sadness and excitement are whirling around as we all approach our final deadlines as students and long-anticipated graduation.
Coping with final year studies as well as sleeping, retaining a social life and sanity and managing a part time job is without a doubt stressful. For the past year whilst studying, I have worked part time in Ballyclare Secondary School, first as a clerical officer and this year as a classroom assistant also. Despite the busy and sometimes long days, I am very lucky to be able to say this job is amazing. Going ‘back to school’ as a member of staff was a little strange as it was only a few years ago I was a pupil – now I’m ‘Miss Hill’ and I can call teachers by their first names – for me, this took a bit of getting used to. However, I can definitely say this is a job and school I absolutely adore and I will be devastated to leave when the time comes.
Recently, as a member of staff I have heard (for months) pupils fretting about the school formal; who’s taking who, where the best place for a spray tan is and about how ‘updos’ are no longer popular (who knew?!). I remember these dilemmas myself when I was 17 and indeed they were (in most 17 year old’s head) the biggest issues in the world. Fast forward 3 years and I really wish my biggest problem was where to get nail extensions – not how to write a dissertation, apply for jobs and revise for exams all at the same time.
Now, from a staff/adult perspective I can see that as a pupil in school, you’re unknowingly in a little bubble of safety, absolutely oblivious to the adult world – and quite rightly so. You get to see your friends every day and you’re surrounded by teachers who will put their all into helping you achieve the grades you need, so that when you log in to UCAS on results day, it congratulates you on securing a place at the University you wanted to go to. As a pupil, I definitely took this for granted; the routine, the friendships and the constant support available will, in my opinion, never be replicated. Despite the hard work, determination, sweat and tears we will be putting into our dissertations and final year exams over the upcoming weeks, as a matter of fact, we have been working hard for this since the first day we sat in school as tiny year 8’s.
Oblivious to it at the age of 12, we were actually preparing ourselves for right now – entering ‘the big, bad world’, that place the adults always talked about. When we were picking our GCSE or A-level subjects we were told to consider the ‘careers’ we wanted. These choices we made from such a young age; the subjects we chose to study, the extra-curricular activities we participated in where we gained innumerable skills and qualities, the countless nights of revising and all-nighters of coursework have all contributed to the next matter of weeks and brought us to this point in our lives.
From our sweet and innocent school days to the young adults we have become, we have been working for the next matter of weeks for years – that’s right, years. Therefore, to everyone who is currently stressing about how fast May is approaching and the volume of work that is yet to be completed, remember you’ve had years of practice, you can and will get through the next matter of weeks with the same determination that got you here.
Good luck to everyone completing final year, make these next coming weeks count – what’s a few weeks in a lifetime?!
Lauren Hill is a Final Year BSc student in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauren-hill-a7807a151/