Don’t fall at the finish line: advice for soon-to-be graduates

For some of us, this November represents more than the end of semester two; it marks the completion of our degrees. Cue trumpets! Cue fanfare! Cue one million insta likes!

But in order to show off the cap and gown, you’ve got to work hard to pass all those final subjects. When the finish line is so close, it can be tempting to take your foot off the pedal and coast…

I’m here to convince you to pedal on, to not throw in the towel, to leap over that final hurdle with grace and finesse. Alright alright, you get it…onto the list!

  1. Reclaim your motivation

Remember why you began this degree in the first place. It’s unlikely you have time to make a mood board, but some positive visualisation will do the trick. Where do you see yourself after your final exam? In three months? A year or five years from now? Envisioning your chic city apartment and sweet corporate threads will put you in the zone to pump out these final weeks of semester.

Next, consider that your final grades could be the difference between a spot on the Commendation  List or missing out. You might hope to graduate with distinction or with graded honours – so don’t throw away the 3, 4 or 5 years of hard work you’ve put in by slacking off in your final courses. If like most of us, getting on the Commendation list is out of reach, that’s no reason to shy away from the best results you can achieve. Knowing you put in 100% will fill you with a sense of pride and give you the confidence to nail upcoming job interviews.

  1. Reality check

Even though graduation is so close, now is not the time to get cocky. Maybe you’ve been interning this year and have secured a grad role – congratulations! But remember, you need that degree for your potential employer to hire you. Another point on overconfidence (which I’ve learnt the hard way) don’t think you can pull off major assignments in a day, even if you made it work last year. Courses generally get harder the further you progress in your degree, and you need to up your study game to reflect that.

So now you might be panicking – it’s Week 11 and you’re in a real pickle. You haven’t done your readings, and the final exam looms menacingly like a pile of clothes on a chair at 2am. You have two options: give up and wing it, thus risking your graduation, or you could come to terms with the situation and make use of the time you have left. Set a realistic study schedule focusing on the core points of each week’s material and do something everyday from here until the exam.

  1. Self-care

Perhaps the biggest threat to success at the end of your degree is burnout. You’ve been studying, working, trying to pack your resume with extra curriculars… the only solution is to invest in your wellbeing. Each day take 30 minutes to exercise (bonus points if you go outside) and do a few simple yoga stretches to ward off back pain. Energy drinks are neither your friend nor food – they’ll only make you anxious and tired in the long run. Instead, load up on nutritious meals, and if you live at home or with housemates, ask them to help you out with the cooking.

Check in with yourself – make sure you’re not self-sabotaging your final grades because you’re nervous about leaving uni, finding a job or moving out. Talk to your network; especially your uni mates who are experiencing the same feelings. If you’re really concerned about meeting deadlines, talk to your tutor about it. Perhaps they can schedule a one-on-one content review session with you or grant an extension through the Adverse Circumstances policy. Remember, your tutors want to see you succeed and graduate on time!

  1. Celebration

Make sure you’ve got something to look forward to after the final ‘pens down.’ Book yourself in for a full glam hair/makeup/tan experience for your grad ceremony or treat yourself to a new tie to pop underneath the gown. If time and budget allow, go on a holiday this summer – you deserve it! If not, make sure you’ve got something special lined up, like a festival with your favourite bands or a house party with your mates.

Finally, think about how fast the year has gone. It’s already October, and in a few short weeks you’ll be over the mountain that is your degree and sipping Pina Coladas with your besties. Good luck and happy studying!

Graduation cap throwing ceremony

Feature image and inset image via: Unsplash. Gif via: Giphy

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