The rumours you heard about the stresses of second year were no myth! No matter how difficult your first year was, it gets tougher. Believe me when I say that in first year I had 9am-6pm lectures daily, weekly coursework, random tests and a mountain of exams and second year was STILL tougher.
Here are a few reasons why:
1: Placement search- having numerous interviews alongside various deadlines can take its toll on you. One week in particular I had two tests, two interviews and two deadlines!
2: Grades count. During first year I told myself this was the case to help stay focused but when times got tough it was comforting to know that ultimately it didn’t- this luxury was gone in second year, my grades actually did count!
3: No longer a novice. In the hopes of correcting the mistakes of being a bookworm in first year, having fun seems to be high on everyone’s priority list- some get just a tad bit carried away and exams creep up on them.
But fear not! Organisation and self-motivation are key to ensuring that you have a balanced year at uni, correcting your mistakes from your first year and improving in all aspects.
Start your research ASAP even if you aren’t 100% set on doing one. The whole process will undoubtedly come along with stress. For me the whole process took 3 months despite starting in September which meant my first semester was jam packed! However, I wasn’t left running from interviews to exams like those who left their search late.
2: Make ‘fun’ time
For most this happens anyway, but for the workaholic be sure not to get buried in books. Make a conscious effort to do something with friends regularly, even if it’s just a movie. Remember to wind down, believe it or not, life will go on even if you can’t get your head around turbomachinery and isentropic compressible flows.
3: Mind your business!
You had a year to try and figure people out, learn who is for you and who isn’t, this doesn’t mean that people can’t change but you should have a rough indication of who to stay clear from. This year is not easy by any means, your timetable may be lighter but your work load and the level of difficulty will surely increase, in some cases quite drastically. The last thing you need on your plate are the added stresses of girl or guy trouble.
4: Visit home
Even if this isn’t your ideal situation, a break from uni life is essential every once in a while. It’s an environment that does it’s very best at draining you both mentally and physically- if you get time off, go home for a weekend and relax. You won’t regret it!
5: Inspire/Motivate yourself
When things started weighing me down I kept a sheet of paper pinned above my desk and every Monday I wrote something to motivate and keep me going throughout the week. This varied from quotes to promises/rewards and some very random notes but they worked nonetheless.
6: Organise your notes/revision
-Make a study plan- this is different to and comes before your revision plan
-Invest in/make a whiteboard calendar
-Invest in a diary/planner.
-Make a score/grade tracker- I find Microsoft Excel easiest to use for this
If you didn’t do this in first year make sure you do these things this year! You need to stay on top of things to help prevent stress. Knowing what modules need extra attention, what assignments are due and when certain events are coming up may seem like a given but it can be very easy to crumble under pressure and lose focus.
I used this video when making my own just before heading off to uni
7: Meal planning
If you are self-catered this will help you a great deal- it can save you from 90% of those imaginary dinners you found yourself eating. I found it easiest to plan my meals for a two- week period and plan my cooking around my timetable, doing most of it on the weekend and if necessary storing foods in the freezer.
8: Set goals
You may find it difficult to set goals at the very start of the academic year, but goal setting can be done at anytime and should be done regularly to keep you focused. Everyone has those moments when they feel like dropping out (I’ve had my fair share); goal setting is the only thing I have found that helps to combat this effectively.
9: Don’t be a control freak
Even if you follow all of my advice, you will get stressed out, you may break down and things may not turn out the way you want them to all the time, such is life- but don’t give up hope. You’ve already done one year, no reason why you can’t do another!
All the best,