People often go to university thinking they’re going to have the best time of their life. They start looking forward to Freshers’ Week, joining societies, making new friends, going on trips, partying and all the fun! However they forgot one detail, the main purpose of university is to get a degree. Although the experience as a whole helps you become more independent, more mature and makes you step out of your comfort zone. It’s the qualification that will make you more employable. That’s it, reality slapped you in the face, you experience stress, anxiety and you can’t keep up with the workload. Don’t worry too much, you’re not alone. We’re going to go through it step by step, and I’m going to show how you can change the dynamic.
Manage your time
Time management is the key to do well at university. The new environment and workload can be overwhelming and it’s totally fine to feel like you’re falling behind. You need to step back and come up with an effective strategy that will allow you to get back on track. Here is what you can do.
- Prioritise your work. You’ve met new people, you joined societies, you want to go out and make the most out of your time at university. However, you have to make sure that you spare enough time to study, don’t forget that you’re a full time student. Your university expects you to be mature, responsible and independent. That’s why you need to remember that your degree is your priority, and that you should go over the material regularly.
- Write a to-do list. With everything going on, it can be difficult to get things done. Writing a to-do list will help you stay on top of your work and keep a healthy balance between your work a your social life. It’s also a good way to motivate yourself to get things done. You can use post-it notes or set up a calendar on your device. The main idea is to get a structure and stick to it!
- Study smart. Even if you allow plenty of time to study, you have to study efficiently to maximise your time. Although it depends on what degree you’re studying and the type of learner you are, some techniques happen to work for most people. For example, you could use key points and flashcards, Youtube videos or the study spaces at your university. Once you’ve found the method that works for you, combine it with a good schedule and see the improvement.
Don’t be scared, be prepared. Okay, I know, easier said than done. But remember that lecturers aren’t here to fail you. You’re kind of a customer when you go to university. You pay them to get a qualification! Essentially, the best way to get over exam stress, is to be prepared and know the material inside out. However, even if you’ve studied thoroughly, it’s normal to feel a bit anxious about a test. I’ve got a few ideas that might help you feel much better.
- Relax before the day. I know this might sound counterintuitive, but stressing yourself out and studying six hours in a row before an exam will not work in your favour. If you feel like you’ve studied enough, it’s time to let go and relax before the effort. Your brain actually needs rest and vitamins in order to be functional during a test. So instead of pulling an All-Nighter. have a good meal and sleep early.
- Mock exams work! Try to take a mock test with your friends and make it feel like an actual test. There plenty of quiet study spaces at university that you can book to make it even more realistic. Doing this will help you deal with pressure and allow you to think more clearly during the actual test.
- Exercise. Don’t stay in bed to watch Youtube videos, you need to get rid of all the stress and toxins. By exercising, your body will release dopamine and help you calm down before the exam. You’ll feel much more relaxed and will find it easier to focus and go through the questions.
Have you considered the fact that you could have a learning disability? A lot of students go through high school without problem and start to feel overwhelmed at university. They fall behind and start to wonder whether university is right for them, but they don’t realise what the actual cause is. Having a learning disability is completely fine. Almost 1 out of 10 people have one, so your university can provide a lot of support and accommodation depending on what you need.
- Let them know. Let your university know that you’re struggling to keep up and that you might have a learning disability. They will support you and make sure that are assessed fairly.
- Find what works for you. Now that you know what your learning difficulty is, you can adjust your learning style and understand your lectures more easily. Take Johnny Harris for example, after finding out that he was dyslexic during university, he decided to listen to his lectures over and over and found alternative solutions for his assignments, such as videos and films instead of essays.
- You will do well. Stay motivated and use the support that’s available, and you will surely do great! You have to enjoy your course and set goals for yourself, manage your time and go over the material regularly. I personally had a friend at university who was dyslexic and he studied maths and economics, he worked hard and managed to do really well. So don’t worry too much, if you put the effort in, you’re going to be okay.
Do you like your major?
Many students choose a major that they simply don’t like or lost interest after some time. If you are not genuinely interested in what you are studying, you’re going to find it much harder. This goes for anything in life, whether it’s your degree, or your job, without passion it’s much more difficult to get through things. Let’s see what you can do if you’re not passionate about your degree anymore.
- Change subject. That’s the simplest thing to do, don’t worry about repeating the year, you’ll be much happier if you enjoy what you study. Try to get information about the other subjects you’re interested in, and talk to the students, attend one of the lectures to figure out whether it’s the right choice or not. I know many people who changed their major and they don’t regret it.
- Get through it. Okay, that’s a bit harsh but it’s another option. Try to remember what you liked about the subject or try to make it more interesting to learn. If you’re in final year, you might as well just get it out the way and move on. Increase your chances of getting a job by networking and going on placement. Sometime sacrifices are important to get what you truly want.