Two Level Three undergraduates reflect on their third and final year
Edited by Samantha Ann Rose Brinded
Are there any general reflections you would like to make on third year as a whole?
Lucy: Although it has been immensely stressful as this is the most important year, on reflection it has been full of great moments that I will remember for a long time. Lecturers have been so helpful with any flustered and panicky emails – it’s almost comical looking back at what I was worried about! Third year is very much focussed on your own ideas and being able to formulate a question/argument around that.
Ethan: I would like to say that I worked an awful lot harder this year than the last couple of years. First and second year I kind of coasted through, and my attendance wasn’t the best it could have been but I’ve turned that around this year and found myself achieving things that I did not think I was capable of. Getting lower marks and then coming out with much higher ones really shows that some effort goes a long way.
What have you enjoyed most?
Lucy: I have enjoyed researching my own ideas and the feeling of completing my dissertation. The friends I have spent my final year with have also made doing these seemingly impossible assessments more fun.
Ethan: Without a doubt the part of this year I enjoyed the most was my dissertation. Writing it would have been a real chore without the freedom to choose anything I wanted to write about. Choosing something I was passionate about in my spare time made me really throw myself into working on it and I think that helped me not only be motivated to achieve highly on my dissertation, but also be motivated to work hard for my other assessments too. Within that, something I have enjoyed about third-year specifically is the encouragement to be more independent in assessments and pick areas that you were interested in pursuing rather than being given set questions for assignments. While I did struggle to get used to this to begin with, I think it really gives you a chance to do your own thing academically.
What aspects have you struggled with most?
Lucy: I have found keeping on top of deadlines I set for myself (i.e. words per day) hard to do. Especially when writing my dissertation. It was not a realistic expectation due to having off days or unexpected events occur. I also found it difficult to devote time to other assignments as all emphasis was placed on completing my dissertation.
Ethan: I have definitely found it challenging this year to balance my time effectively. Working part-time, working on assignments and also being a PASS tutor, there has often been a lot of things to do and not a lot of time to do them! But with some planning and a fair amount of ‘winging it’, I have managed to balance my time quite effectively this year.
Is there anything you wish you had known at the start of the year?
Lucy: Keeping the momentum during the lull between handing in my dissertation and the final assignments of the year was really important. It’s very much a rollercoaster: you build up to the hand-in and find yourself in a slump until you get results back for it (unless you have assessments immediately afterwards). The constantly elevated stress over dissertations makes you feel like you have finished when the reality is you still have a couple of months left!
Ethan: I wish I knew that I didn’t need to worry so much over my dissertation. It’s incredibly daunting writing 10,000 words on anything, and getting to grips with my material was challenging to begin with. But if I had known at the start of the year that it would be fine in the end, I could have saved myself a lot of stress. That said it was the stress that encouraged me to work harder on it, so maybe that wasn’t a completely bad thing!
Is there any advice you would give to new first years?
Lucy: First year is all about acclimatizing to university, getting to know lecturers and realising you can do well here. Yes, take the opportunity to enjoy yourself and make new friends, but also remember that the effort you put into first year pays off in second and even third year. Lectures, seminars and assessments are there to give you the skills and confidence to progress. If you find something difficult, don’t panic, just ask for help. You are not set up to fail!
Ethan: Enjoy it! The last three years have absolutely flown by, and though I am staying on to study for a Masters in September, it is still incredibly surreal to think that this is the end of my undergraduate study! So I think the only advice worth giving is enjoy yourself, and take every opportunity you get because you might end up doing something amazing!