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Are you graduating this year?

Monday 31 October 2016

Life is full of transitions and periods of change which can make us feel vulnerable and uncertain. For students in their final year of study, the prospect of leaving university can be one such time. The end of student life can be difficult to think about—after all, you have probably been in continuous education for most of your life so leaving is huge change! As a student you are provided with a structure; timetables, lectures, assignment deadlines, semesters, exams and reading weeks and we know that structure helps people feel safe and secure. As a student you also have a clear identity—‘I am a student’—and a sense of belonging to your course, your peer group and to Queen Mary, not to mention a well-defined purpose—to pass exams, complete your course and get your degree.

Some final year students start to feel constrained by student life and long to break out if it and set off on a journey where they have the freedom to choose their own direction, set their own timetable, and make their own decisions. For others the thought of losing the identity, structure and purpose that comes with being a student can be bewildering and sometimes scary. Not knowing what lies ahead and having to take responsibility for your own direction in life can cause a great deal of anxiety. Sometimes, this leads to academic paralysis and failure to progress towards graduation. If this sounds like you, it might be helpful to talk it through with your Student Support Officer, friend, family member or a counsellor.

As well as the emotional challenges which arise as you come to the end of your studies, there are obviously many practicalities to attend to. Deciding where to live, managing your financial affairs, applying for further study or finding work can all prove relatively straightforward for some students and extremely difficult for others, depending on how much you have planned ahead and how much support you have.

Given all this, it's hardly surprising that anxiety and stress can be high for many final year students. Whilst it makes sense to plan ahead and seek advice where necessary (try Careers or the Advice and Counselling Service website for a start) it’s also important to be able to focus on the here and now in order to complete your work. Remembering that you are meant to be somewhat stressed (it’s part of the process of achieving graduate status), that you can perform under pressure, that you’ve done it before and this is no different, can all help. It will be over soon and then you can step back and reflect on what you have found satisfying and worthwhile. You will have the sense of satisfaction that comes with seeing something through to the end knowing you’ve given it your best shot. The knowledge that you have persisted with your studies, whatever the outcome, will confirm your personal resolve and resilience which, in turn, can help you engage with whatever comes next after university.

If you are worried about life after Queen Mary and feeling stressed by all the change, deadlines, exams and future plans it maybe worth talking things over with your personal advisor or mentor, or even friends—often hearing that other people have similar feelings can help us feel less isolated and that in turn helps reduce stress levels. If things really feel they are getting too much and you think your stress or anxieties are stopping you being able to work, do see your GP or come to the Advice and Counselling Service. 

To find out more visit: http://www.welfare.qmul.ac.uk/ 

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