If it’s your second or third year, getting yourself motivated and ready to resume classes can feel like a mammoth task. The initial excitement associated with starting your first year is slightly dulled, and the feeling of unparalleled possibilities is overshadowed by the tedium of having to start labeling your yogurts again and staggering your way through a particularly slow textbook on literary theory. I’m with you – it’s not easy, but perseverance is crucial!
Reconnect with your interests. After a year of lectures, grades and constructive criticism, it’s easy to feel that a cloud of academia is obscuring your ability to see your studies in an enthusiastic light. Rediscover your passion for your subject of choice. Why did you decide to study that particular subject in the first place? If necessary, go back to your roots with the topic, whether that means re-reading a book, listening to a lecture or attending a talk. Whatever it takes to revitalise your interest!
If it’s a case of dusting off a layer of stress that has settled on your degree subject, finding a way to rekindle your excitement is crucial. In my case as an English student, spending the summer discovering great new novels and writers and receiving my reading list helped me feel ready for a new academic year. Ask yourself what it is about your subject that you love, and channel that enthusiasm into your life before classes resume.
If the prospect of the upcoming year is paralysing, getting organised practically is a good place to start. Do you need to start purchasing textbooks? Head to Amazon to get them cheaply with just a few clicks, and ta-da! You’ve made the first step towards preparedness! Take yourself to a stationery store to stock up on the essentials (and maybe a few frivolities – hey, they have ‘build-a-burger’ eraser sets these days!). Sometimes going home with a brand new notebook and a stack of post-it notes can give you a refreshed perspective on your studies.
On the subject of post-it notes, be sure to make a list of any important tasks such as reapplying for student finance and housing, including any deadline dates so you don’t end up with nowhere to live!
It’s important to take advantage of the social benefits of university as well as the academics. Many universities will be hosting a wide variety of events to welcome both new and returning students alike. Check your student union’s social media profiles to see what’s happening in the first few weeks of the semester!
It’s never too late to join a club or society! If you spent your first year nervously hiding under a mountain of assignments or were more into planning nights out with your housemates, joining a sports team or club dedicated to one of your interests could help revive some of the nervous excitement that couples itself with the first year student experience. Most universities will have a wide array of societies who get together to socialise, discuss relevant issues and plan events and outings. Whether you’re into crocheting or Quidditch, there will surely be something that piques your interest.
If all else seems futile and the thought of a new academic year fills you with despair, focus on the end goal. Presumably you’re working on your degree in the hopes of a certain future career. Find ways to further your aspirations – this could be in the form of an internship or work placement for credit alongside your studies. Speak to your university’s careers and guidance team to explore your options. If such options are unavailable, consider opportunities outside of university. Look for relevant volunteering positions in your field of interest; if possible, find a way to do what your love and gain crucial experience that will look good on your CV.
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