A part from the actual subject your studying, completing a degree can teach you a lot of things. How many shots you can handle, where the best, hidden cafes are, how long you can survive a lecture when you’re hungover…you learn a lot about yourself. It’s an experience you’ll never forget and definitely one that you won’t want to end (well, once you get past the pain of assessments). Here are a few things that completing a degree has taught me.
1. To think before choosing a path. It’s your future, no one else’s.
People will sometimes try pushing you into a certain path. Schools want you to immediately go straight to university, parents might want you to make a more secure, money-driven decision, but it doesn’t matter what they want. You choose what course to do and where to do it. I tried Psychology before Creative Writing because I felt pressured into a decision when leaving school. My parents made me realise that I should follow my passion and the degree ensured that I could make it into a career. You should too. University makes you realise what you enjoy and how to pursue it. Your future is yours alone. Do what makes you happy.
2. Not everyone knows what they want to do. And that’s okay.
Completing a degree taught me that there were a variety of ways to take my chosen course into a career. But which one I choose I have no idea. Nobody usually does. You’ll meet a few people who have a set plan, but usually, by the end of university, that plan has changed. No one really knows where to go after university and that’s fine. Try different things, see where it takes you. You don’t have to have a set plan, just give yourself a few options to try first.
3. To listen to my body.
Stress can trigger physical reactions and completing a degree has allowed me to notice what these are and when I should give myself a break. Your body will tell you when you’re working too hard, you should always listen to it. Recognise those signs and allow yourself to figure out what calms you down. You’ll need to know this even after university as it’s not only deadlines that can trigger them.
4. Planning is important and a way to reduce stress.
Completing a degree has taught me to plan before deadlines. Whatever tasks I need to complete should be planned beforehand in order for me to panic less and complete it to the best of my abilities. Organisation is a good skill to have and university is a good way to improve this skill.
5. Don’t be afraid to talk to people.
Chances are, you’re not the only nervous one amongst a crowd. You shouldn’t be afraid to try new things and meet new people. Not only does it make you more social, but it could give you great contacts for the future. Networking is never a bad thing.
6. To know my limitations…
Accepting your limitations can be difficult but the stress of completing a degree brings them out of you. With the stress of deadlines and trying to keep old friendships, you start to recognise when enough is enough. Don’t try to do too much at once, keep yourself happy and healthy and the rest will come in time.
7. And how to overcome those limitations in order to succeed.
Once you start accepting your limitations, you start experimenting with ways to overcome them. Completing a degree can sometimes be the start of this. If you’re unable to work more than a couple of hours a night, then accept it. Don’t panic about not having enough time. Put aside a few days a week to do a few hours of work each night and then the assignment will be complete. It might take longer than others but you’ll succeed either way. Plan for your limitations and you’ll overcome them.
8. Experience is key in any career.
Education is important but it doesn’t guarantee a job. Employers will always look for it. Universities often have ways to help with this and they understand that the degree alone won’t always start your career. Let them help you, help yourself and get some volunteering or work experience sorted.
9. It’s okay to have bad days.
Completing a degree is stressful! You’ll have bad days and that’s fine, it doesn’t make you a failure. Sometimes, you won’t be able to do the work. It’ll only make you more ill. Your health is more important and you should allow yourself these days. They won’t last forever.
10. Friends and family are everything.
Everyone needs support. Your friends and family are some of the most important people in your life and completing a degree highlights this. The stress of the deadlines shows who really cares and is willing to help. Never take them for granted, they’ll make university even more enjoyable and calming for you.