Everything recent uni grads wish they had known before starting final year

Listen up third years!!

Okay, so I know by the end of second year we’re supposed to have got the hang of this whole uni thing, but in reality the jump from second to third year is so much bigger than first to second. Trying to navigate your way through the turbulent time of dissertations, grad schemes, and FOMO is tricky to say the least, especially when you feel like you’re just not getting it right.

The Tab spoke to recent graduates and asked them what they wish they’d known before starting final year. To all you soon-to-be-third years, here’s the best advice for final year, from grads to you:

Don’t let your job give you more hours than you’re ready to work

“Juggling a job alongside uni is definitely do-able and sometimes necessary, and although you don’t have to give up your job in your third year, try and set boundaries with your employers so you don’t get taken advantage of. Most of the time if you make it clear to them that you are in your final year and need to reduce your hours or you aren’t available to pick up extra shifts then they usually honour that.”


If you want to a grad job, apply as early as you can

“It’s a good idea to have done your research in early September, so you are clearer on where you want to apply to and what this entails. If you do your research on the company your chances will probably be better too. Getting applications done in September or October will mean you’re less stressed later in the year, and you won’t have to juggle it with dissertation planning and writing. Many big companies recruit on a rolling basis, so getting an application in early it might improve your chances.”


Don’t compare yourself to your friends

“Don’t compare how you work to how your friends work: you’ve got to do what works best for you and this will probably look very different to everyone else. Don’t doubt yourself just because your routine is different either – trust yourself, and most importantly, go with the flow.”


You can always pull it back in third year

“At most unis, all the years are weighted differently and the emphasis is always on your final year, but I would definitely recommend finding out what the weighting for your uni is. I didn’t know that my third year counted for two thirds of my degree! It also can make a huge difference if you didn’t do as well as you hoped in second year as you can always pull it back in third year – don’t lose hope!”


Don’t feel guilty for having time off

“Work hard obviously, but don’t burn out – it’s not worth it! Time to relax is more important than working loads of hours, you’ll get burnout and you won’t produce your best work. Third year goes so quickly, you shouldn’t feel guilty for having time off and enjoying experiences whilst you can.”


Say yes to everything

“This time of your life is so special and it won’t last forever! Cherish your last year, despite all the stress and say yes to every opportunity you can. You’ll regret not going to your final balls, celebrating friends’ birthdays, and having fun with your closest friends.”


Start your dissertation early

“Start it in October if you can, don’t do it in one week! Make sure you are actively working on it and actually writing it. Just get it done!”

Literally just everyone 

Enjoy your time with mates

“It’s a really stressful time but everyone’s going through the same thing. Your friends will be your rocks in third year –  I definitely got closer with my housemates because of the stress. Look after each other and make sure you have breaks, especially if you do something together, it really helps.  Basically, enjoy your time together and support one another.”


Ask for help

“Your tutors are there for a reason, use them! Whether it’s academic, mental or physical, they are one of your biggest sources of support and help in third year. Don’t be afraid to pester them if you don’t understand something or need help with anything.”


Focus on yourself

“Don’t get caught in the rat race, keep cool and back yourself. Remember that everyone is nervous about their final year and it’s easy to get swept up in the panic.”


Don’t stop doing the things you love

“Keep doing the societies and activities you love: they will keep you sane. Don’t feel like you have to give things up which make you happy just because you have work to do. Plan things into your week that you love doing, whether that’s going out, seeing friends, weekend trips – have something to look forward to, not just endless work – it will help motivate you.”


Related articles recommended by this author:

Students share the dumb and pointless things in their uni house that just make sense

Students share the weirdest things that have happened to them on internships

‘We were all silent for 45 minutes’: Students share their worst break-out room stories