As we push through the final months of university, the end of year meltdown is not an unusual experience among students. We pray that the thousands of pounds each year and sleepless nights will pay off as we get closer and closer to graduation. English Literature student Georgina Radford talks us through how she deals with her meltdowns to push herself through the final leg of another academic year. 

It’s getting towards the end of the academic year; exams are looming around the corner and you still haven’t gotten around to applying for all those summer internships. The end of the year is stressful for everyone, and I have been no exception.

The last month has been one of the most stressful periods of my entire time at University. At times it’s left me feeling drained and a little defeated. At one specific low point, I recall having driven into uni over twenty minutes late for a seminar. I was feeling so stressed about not knowing what I wanted to do with my degree that I gave myself a panic attack in the middle of the car park.

So often I just wanted to bury my head in the sand and forget that I was running out of time to make myself as employable as possible. However, after wasting half the month trying to suppress and ignore this anxiety, I decided it was time to get myself together and deal with my mini-meltdown. I took a hard look at all the aspects of myself that I deemed substandard and determined that I would work towards changing myself for the better.

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Photo Credit: Tim Gouw

Getting Relevant Work Experience

As a second-year student, the lead up to summer gets more and more pressurised; summer becomes less of a holiday and more of a wakeup call that you have no idea what you want to do when uni is over. Even if you do know (I’m highly impressed if you do) there is always a way to better yourself and make yourself a more employable candidate.

For myself, I recognised that what I was lacking most was relevant work experience, which I was only going to get if I landed myself an internship. Because I dragged my feet the last few months, I missed deadlines for a lot of internships that I might have liked. Luckily, the Careers team are frequently posting new and varied internships as well as year-long placements – it’s always a good idea to scan these over on a regular basis, even if it’s just to give yourself an idea of the type of job you’d like to eventually go into.

The first step was to tailor my CV to the job description. Having already practised this as part of the Careers Workshops, this was not too tedious. However, as I’d recently discovered, almost all internships will require you to submit a cover letter to accompany your application – this is something I’d never had to do before and was pretty daunted at the idea of even starting one. Thankfully, there are always guides online that give you somewhere to start, although my biggest help came from my family who diligently edited and re-edited my cover letters.

Achieving the Best Grade Possible

Obviously one of the biggest stresses during uni is finishing with a decent grade. Yet time and time again I hear how people leave their assignments to the night before it’s due – just hearing these horror stories is enough to give my anxiety a run for its money.

I’ve never been able to operate that way and have always needed a bare minimum of two weeks to comfortably complete just one essay. So, you can imagine my utter horror at looking at my timetable for May and seeing five assignments all due within one month. Not going to happen.

Therefore, I planned out the entirety of Easter break to get as many assessments out of the way as possible – no such thing as time off anymore! Although this is a little depressing to think about, I find a real sense of clarity in knowing that I’ll be alleviating as much stress as possible when it comes to the mad dash of May.

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Giving Myself a Break

This year has been stressful to say the least and that’s mainly because I procrastinate over doing the things that I really need to do, making every task more fraught with anxiety. However, my stress also stems from putting too much pressure on myself. I know that I need a kick up the arse to get myself into gear in order to achieve the things that I want. But I also recognise that I need to not be so harsh on myself and allow for some relaxation time. To compensate for the workload that I have set myself for Easter, I plan to have one day a week of rest – this means no work at all from both uni and my part-time job.

I know that the majority of this article has been spent stressing how Easter isn’t a time to do nothing, and certainly this remains true, yet there has to be some kind of balance of work and play to avoid a meltdown. Knowing that I’ll have a day to relax will certainly help keep myself at ease.

Conclusion

Having a strategy helps me to feel like I’m not just free-falling towards the end of my degree. When it comes to completing uni work, planning out times when I can get work done makes everything seem more straightforward. Similarly, getting an internship will certainly give me a clearer direction on where I want to go in my career and will simultaneously make me more employable.

However, there will undoubtedly be times that I deviate from my plan – maybe I’ll be too lazy one night to catch up on reading or friends might invite me out when I planned to write some of an essay. Whilst work needs to be done, and having a plan will help facilitate that, I also need to give myself time to relax.

It’s important to know how far you can push without pushing yourself overboard. Ultimately, it’s all about finding that balance between productivity and leisure which will help you cope with the meltdowns towards the end of the year.

 Words by Georgina Radford

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