I’m something of an expert on the third year of university. I’m currently on my second try of third year, so having essentially failed my first, I’m well versed on what you should and shouldn’t do. I didn’t really make much of my initial third year anyway, particularly in context of my first and second years (which were highly successful. Mostly).
Apply for anything and everything
The first thing everyone should do, the first way to make the most of your third year – apply for anything you find even vaguely interesting. I mean anything – work experience, jobs, exec positions – anything at all. Get as much and as varied an experience as you can before you leave. It won’t be that long, and the inevitability of leaving is all the more terrifying if you’ve not done much.
Everything I have to say from now will be centred on that point, which you’ll have heard before and will hear again. People, especially older generations, are obsessed with everyone doing as many things as possible. While that is incredibly important, there are other things that you need to keep in mind.
Don’t do too much
That was my mistake – I decided that I was going to do as much as possible with my extra-curricular activities (I was a welfare officer for a society, among other things). You actually have a degree to do – do it. Those essays will not magically disappear. The failure will just haunt you for the rest of your life.
Social lives and personal welfare are also important; far more important than anything else on this list. You can build up experience and do as many things as you like, but what’s the use if you eventually snap and realise you have no friends?
Furthermore, you should only do things you’re interested in doing. By the way, this doesn’t include your degree, but if you’re doing something you don’t enjoy in the third year, it’s a bit late. I’ve enjoyed all of my degree. If you didn’t, hard luck.
If you want to do things outside of your degree, do things that genuinely interest you. I’ve done bits here and there, working with children and doing serious academic research being two examples. My experience will help me in my career, because I’ll sell it to people in a way that will convince them of my skills – but I’ve enjoyed everything that I’ve done, and that’s really important.
Don’t give up
This is important for making your most of life, as well as third year. You will have setbacks. You will get rejected. People will discourage you from doing a Masters in Classics because it’s not a subject that lends itself easily to a career. You have experience and talent and god knows what else; someone will recognise it. Trust me, you’ll be fine.
Any more advice on retaking a university year? Tell us in the comments below.
Photo: WMG Warwick / Flickr