Third year is the most important year at university, it is the year that counts the most towards your degree. Therefore, the summer before, it is important not to just forget about university. You don’t want to be going back and feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights. However, you should still be able to enjoy your summer. This is also your time off. The important thing is finding the balance.
As a humanities student at Nottingham, I am planning my dissertation now. I have already submitted a proposal and had a supervisor meeting. My supervisor is relatively happy with what I have suggested. However, what do I do now? I can’t just forget about it over summer. I have been advised to do reading over summer. The information is the hardest part of an essay I find, so being prepared in advance for my third year will help considerably.
When the weather is nice, it is always hard to find the motivation to sit in front of a computer doing research. I am trying to combat this by finding the relevant books and articles I need now and taking them out of the library or printing them off. This way I can recline in the sun but also do my reading.
My supervisor has also emphasised to me not to worry too much about writing any of it yet, despite my having a title, there is still room for it to be edited all the way up the Christmas! So reading around my subject is essential, answering an exact question is not.
However, don’t worry too much about working over summer. It is important to be prepared for your third year, but equally enjoy yourself, and this leads onto my next point.
Going away with friends
I love a holiday, I book them constantly. I am the definition of finding a cheap flight, then worrying about time off work and accommodation later. This year, I have decided to go away with some friends. This has required more planning than I am used to. When it comes to planning a holiday with friends, there are a few factors to consider. Everyone needs to get on well. Going on holiday is stressful, there is no doubt about it, particularly when going to a foreign country.
Be careful to consider what you all have planned; you all need to have the same goals about the trip in mind. For example, if you are going to Magaluf for a week, don’t expect to see the sights, expect the inside of a club. However, if you are going to Rome for a week, a historical week of sightseeing should definitely be on the cards. Your holiday will be whatever you make of it but check that your aims on holiday and your friends’ aims are the same otherwise this could cause arguments along the way. Also consider budgets, it is very important that you agree on a specific spending limit. You need to factor in hotels, transfers, actual spending money, and flights. The money one person has to spend might not be the same as another.
Working over summer
Your summer should be productive, but this can mean different things to different people. As mentioned previously I like working over summer in order to pay off my overdraft and make it more manageable by the time I finish university. There are many different avenues of work that you could go down for summer. Finding a job that helps pay the bills and gives you some spending money is helpful in an obvious way. However, finding a job that gives you relevant experience to your future is also very important.
This will (probably) be your last summer before you graduate and start working so it is important to get relevant experience and not just waste your summer. Interviewers do like to see what you have done with your time and how you can use this in order to apply it to your chosen career.
Volunteering is helpful to do over summer. Sometimes students find themselves at a loose end and just waste time (and sun) watching Netflix. This is a time when you could think about giving back, maybe help out at an animal shelter or volunteer to pick up litter at your local park. All these do help the summer feel more productive. Even if you volunteer in an office, this will give you a taste of what you could potentially do, or maybe it gives you a clearer idea of what you definitely don’t want to do. The last thing you want to be doing when you go back in September is answering the question “what have you done with your summer?” with “nothing”.
Ultimately don’t let yourself be limited by thinking you have to have a busy non-stop summer always seeing people or working. It is equally important that you enjoy it too whether that is through holidays, volunteering, working, researching, or just sitting in the sunshine enjoying a well earned break.