Danai Nyagani & Charli Kasumba
If the university years are “the best years of your life” then you’re doing life wrong. That however, should not stop you from making the most of it. So here are a few tips that will help you make the last stretch a little less stressful.
Start stuffing your CV
Remember when we were in matric and people would say, “a degree is the new matric”? Today “experience is the new degree”. You could be a PhD student and companies won’t even think twice without experience. Take advantage of all the opportunities that are available at SU: do short courses (if you can’t afford the course, ask the SRC for funding) or become a tutor/invigilator/library monitor/waitron/salesperson.
Now is the time to leave your comfort zone
This is your last year as a student, or in fact as a carefree person, before adulting and black tax kicks into high gear. Time to flip the script – date your crush, attend a festival, get a tattoo. Whatever it is, do it fam, you have nothing to lose, full stop. Don’t focus on what people will say about it – life after uni isn’t always glamorous.
Think about the future and start planning
Gap year? Postgrad? Corporate? Start thinking about where you want to be this time next year and start taking the necessary steps. Start applying for jobs, scholarships and degrees. You will be surprised how quickly a year goes by. If you can’t find something that speaks to your soul, start your own thing. Always remember: own race, own pace. Your time will come.
Pay it forward
Stellenbosch is a challenging place, and making it out of the colony in one piece is an achievement and a half. Find a way to share the knowledge that you’ve learnt. Share your contacts, opportunities and life hacks. Share your experience – you don’t know how your advice could make a first year’s experience more bearable and certainly more memorable.
Psychological services and supportive spaces are extremely expensive and hard to come by. One of the small perks about being at university is that there is easy access to mental health services. There is immense pressure for you to succeed, and you need to be mentally prepared. Try your best to make use of these because it’s better to deal with your skeletons (those that are known and otherwise) now while you have the support before you enter the cruel world.
Find your own way of escape
Final year can be the best year of your university experience, however it very easily could be one of the most stressful. While it may not seem essential, it’s important to find a way to cope with the demands of the academic year. It should be mentioned that your escape route should not be something that is detrimental to your academic success (stress drinking has never been a good idea). Escape activities could take the form of reviving a lost passion for the arts, exercising or reading non-academic materials.
Help your classmates out
This is self-explanatory but it is surprising how many final year students believe that they are in competition with their friends. Fam, we’re all in the same struggle – we all want to graduate in December (or March) and do well after university is over. By keeping your knowledge to yourself, you determine the level of difficulty you are willing to experience on the road to that graduation ceremony.
Have the right group of friends
By now you should be able to decipher which of your friends actually care about their academics and which are in university for the parties (and really want to be permanent students). Avoid the latter as much as possible once the academics become demanding. Don’t get us wrong, your party friends are probably the coolest people you know, but make sure to surround yourself with friends who will motivate you to put your best foot forward this year.
Make Things Happen
I know, it sounds like a motivational catchphrase – and that’s exactly what it is. Before all the junk of the next stage of life begins to creep in, take time out to look back on this one. Take stock of the goals that you didn’t accomplish and start setting the foundation to fulfill them.