Along with a large number of students, I am about to become a university graduate; something that both excites and terrifies me. After speaking to a lot of my university friends I have realised that this seems to be a universal feeling, especially brought on by attempting to navigate graduate life whilst still in the swings of a global pandemic. To go from living independently for a minimum of three years with people in a similar age group to you, whose priorities are extremely similar to your own, to potentially moving back into your family home can be an overwhelming idea to process. However, it can be just as overwhelming to make the decision to continue to live independently and attempt to get a graduate job. Therefore, I thought I would not only share my experience but also some of the advice that my fellow university students have imparted on me as the process of leaving university begins.
Take a break
Ask anyone close to me and they would be able to tell you that I have never been particularly good at taking breaks, even when I’m at work I’m not a massive fan of sitting around. However, the long nights of studying and writing my dissertation took a toll on me so when I completed studying I crashed. This was not healthy, something that I can admit now, but what it allowed me to do was rest my body and my mind to the point that I felt comfortable moving away from university work and turning to a new adventure. Giving yourself time to rest is necessary, not even necessarily after university. Allowing yourself to sit and process any big achievement in your life is important, even if the emotions you have surrounding this are not always positive. If you feel like you’re struggling with processing leaving university, make sure to speak to someone. Whether this is a parent, a friend or even a GP, talking through your emotions is vital to keep up a good physical, emotional and mental health.
Learn a new skill or hobby
With the addition of free time from not having to write a 10,000 word dissertation, it can be difficult to know what to do. For the first couple of weeks after I finished all my coursework I definitely felt like this which meant I turned to Netflix and other streaming services to catch up on all the programmes that I’d missed. However, this didn’t make me feel like I’d accomplished anything in a day. In order to combat this I made the decision to spend a couple of hours a day doing something new. Recently I’ve taken up learning a new language, I will admit that I’m not great at it but it’s a learning curve, as well as taking up scrapbooking seeing as I seem to have collected a lot of memory driven objects from my time at university. Doing something new might not even be necessary, maybe you used to have a hobby that you haven’t taken up in a while because of the focus towards studying.
Try not to compare yourself
Although learning about what your fellow classmates or housemates are doing when they go back home can be exciting, it can also be extremely daunting. It can often feel like you should be doing exactly the same thing as your friends in relation to getting work experience, interviews and eventually a job. This was definitely something that I struggled with at first. Making the decision to take a year out to work before going back to do my master’s degree is what is best for me, something I acknowledge now, but was difficult to come to terms with. Understanding and learning that going with the crowd is not always the best just in order to conform is difficult. It feels like the standard, however, in the current climate there is no standard. There never has been, students do different things after they graduate, it happened in high school and it will continue to happen in all forms of education. To not compare yourself is difficult but if the path that you take after you graduate makes you happy, that is what is most important.
I hope that this was helpful to my fellow soon-to-be university graduates and that some of the advice that I’ve shared has eased your anxieties about what is next for you. Remember that not everyone is at the same stage in their process but that does not mean you are any less successful than your friends. Take some time to breathe and rest, after three years of hard work, we all deserve it!
The ACT and SAT are created by The College Board - the people who create the heartbreaking AP exams - and The ACT, respectively. These exams test your knowledge obtained in grade school overall, but the scores do not define you. Many colleges use scores for admission, but colleges also take in account of GPA, activities on-school/after-school and more to determine if you are granted admission. Not everyone is a good test taker and that is okay.
The ACT has more areas like science and social studies and does not rely on math or english that much, but rather reading.The breakdown for the ACT: a 35-minute reading test, 45-minute English test, 60-minute math section and 35-minute science test. The SAT is more math and english: grammar orientated. The breakdown for the SAT: 65 minutes reading test, a 35-minute writing and language test and an 80-minute math section. The math section in the SAT is divided in two: one with a calculator and another with no calculator. Both are timed around equal times but the cool thing is that there is no punishment for guessing on these tests. It is better to mark down an answer if you don’t have one since you have a ¼ chance of it being right.
The ACT and the SAT are both stressful since you are timed, for each question you have about 1 minute and sometimes second, but there are some strengths to both of the tests that might help you. I actually took the ACT in 7th grade and the PSAT in my 8-10 grade so I have taken these exams for the last 3-4 years. The PSAT is a smaller version of the SAT that many Americans take throughout high school. If you like the PSAT, then the SAT is the right choice for you. Additionally, the SAT may be your best bet if you are good at math or you could take the ACT if you are not math oriented and more of a science-based person. For either one, I recommend studying and taking practice tests a couple months before and not on the day of the test. Procrastination is not the key for trying to do well on your college admission tests.
You can decide which score to give your college if the first time wasn’t your best score. Both tests have essays but it is up to your future college if you need to take it. Plus you have resources to actually practice and prepare yourself. It is good to see how you do on a practice test to give you a heads up on your mistakes and problems before-hand.
Take time to pick your exam and maybe even take both to see for yourself if you just do not know. The differences allow for students to have different experiences with each exam like me. You got this!
Here are resources to practice the ACT and/or SAT.
319.337. 1270. ACT Helpline if you have more questions
1 (866) 630-9305. SAT Helpline if you have more questions
1 (800) 273-8439 Princeton Review. For help on both exams