Ready your trumpets for an energetic fanfare please: I finished my dissertation last week, hooray! Actually, as only a couple of courses have pre-Easter hand-ins if you’re on the dissi […]

Ready your trumpets for an energetic fanfare please: I finished my dissertation last week, hooray!

Actually, as only a couple of courses have pre-Easter hand-ins if you’re on the dissi mission this news has probably just made you even angrier, so sorry about that. Don’t lob your laptop out of the window just yet though; some of what I have to say may be vaguely useful. I’ve got absolutely no idea whether the fifty or so pages of dubious geography that I handed in will be remotely comprehensible to anyone who bothers to read it but I know I did manage to produce something of the required length using actual English dictionary approved words, as well as colour in a map successfully which must count for something. I managed to win my freedom and there’s no reason why you won’t be able to either, as long as you listen to The Tab’s advice:

It’s a full on war: You’re dealing with a hideous word count here and unless you happen to be Jack Kerouac on crack there is no way this bad boy is getting done in less than a week. Mentally, it helps to chop the bastard into separate bits – 10K words is only three essays, right? EASY.

For your own sanity, please just go to bed.

Get into a routine: I don’t care whether you’re one of those nocturnal vampire people who only hit Hartley after dark – just make sure you’re at a desk and ready to start ‘working’ at a similar time each day. Get your sleeping pattern sorted as well, you need to conserve your energy for the final push. Seriously, hearing about some of you two-hours-a-night idiots makes me want to contact your parents.

Nail the Lit. Review: You wouldn’t try and build a house on a sea of sewage would you? It’d sink and you’d end up with e. coli. The same rule applies for your project: the Lit. Review provides your foundations so it needs to be bomb proof. Put the graft in here and everything else should work out OK. Probably.

Making data up: It’s tempting. Attempting to press gang stony faced shoppers on Southampton high street into doing your survey is one of the quicker ways to lose faith in humanity, and transcribing interview audio will make your fingers bleed and your brain go numb (do I REALLY say ‘like’ that often?). However, fabricating realistic results takes as long as doing the real thing and, in case you need reminding, it’s also cheating.

It’s like finding Narnia, only you will leave having aged ten years.

The Murray Building: Is open 24 hours a day. Thank me later.

Don’t kid yourself: You aren’t splitting the atom or coming up with a new theory of evolution; you’re doing a poxy undergrad dissertation which has a future as a dust receptacle in the department basement. Even if you get a first it’ll still be shit.

Keep on saying why it matters: That said, make sure you keep on reiterating stuff about how your project is relevant and ‘furthering the discourse’ etc. This should help the reader suspend their disbelief and at the very least might prevent you from bursting into tears and getting the next train home.

The name describes the after effects.

Regulating your performance enhancing drug: As all junkies know, if you’re taking hits all the time you’ll need increasingly larger doses for them to have any effect, so lay off everything until the final week. Choose your vice carefully: I went for coffee because I find a volatile digestive system can be quite an inconvenience.

Binding:  When it came to the final week I was honestly more stressed about getting it bound on time than whether I’d written anything decent. Luckily, it turned out that those horror stories about the binders having enormous backlogs were completely unfounded; I know people who got it done on the morning of the hand-in. If there is a queue on campus, you can go to Staples or the print shop in Portswood which is conveniently located next to Champagne Charlies so you can get Crunked up whilst you’re waiting.

Good luck, I’ll see you on the other side!

More Life Lessons can be found here and here.