A Reflection on my Penultimate Year

As my third year of university comes to a close, it is important to do an honest reflection of what went well (and not so well). This will help me learn what to do to improve my performance in my next and final year of university.

My penultimate year was intended to be the year that I had got used to university life and balancing my priorities – living my university life to the fullest. Honestly, I had a really enjoyable and productive year, even though everything did not work out exactly as I had hoped. It was always going to be a challenging year as I changed my degree subject, career goals and went into a new role within the Centre of Entrepreneurship which required focus and planning to get through. Furthermore, as usual, I left a lot of academic work to the last minute which infringed on my ability to perform at a level that reflected my best abilities.

Sometimes, it’s easy to lose focus on the main aim of coming to university – an education. Don’t get me wrong: I believe that the university experience is far more than academic, I believe it is an opportunity to mould your hopes and dreams by experiencing life in a way that enlightens you about what you want and does not want; it’s a semi-safe space to experiment.

This also includes the opportunity to explore the capabilities of your mind in an academic environment that gives you structure and access to professionals who can guide you. As much as I love exploring the non-academic aspects of the university, I believe it’s important to get the same out of the academic experience and that requires balance and rest.

In my fourth year, I have to be very conscious in ensuring I am staying on top of university work despite my other commitments which can easily take priority.  I will do this by analysing each module and its workload and giving myself ‘content synthesis’ deadlines, which is me deciding when I will need to understand the content of the module (preferably not the day before the exam) because this gives me an opportunity to really let the information settle and ask relevant questions at an appropriate time that will let me absorb and challenge the information.  If I am being honest with myself, leaving content understanding till exam time has made me more focused on passing the exam than in understanding the content and its applications, which goes against my reasoning for getting higher education.

Rest is crucial in the quest for me getting the most out of my academic experience. I love being busy and having a lot on my plate because in a sense it gives me ‘purpose’; I always realise this when I finish exams as I feel a bit lost and have to give myself another task (like writing all my university blogs for the academic year). Nonetheless, I believe there is a balance to be struck between striving to achieve things and being a happy, well-rested and effective version of myself. I did very well this year in terms of getting my 8/9 hours of sleep a night and I honestly felt the impact and it was significant. Now I need to ensure that with the 16 hours I am up, I don’t run myself to the ground. This means that I will be letting go of some other responsibilities and being more planned and efficient with others. I will let you know how I get on with that and I hope this has been insightful!

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