1. Mental health is just as important as physical health.
Do not neglect your mental well-being. Too often, students are being left feeling lonely and isolated, because they are unable to speak about their troubles out loud. As a result, some have even being diagnosed with mental health issues due to the stress of education and personal lives. This is why it is important for us to support one another, as we do not know the struggles other people are dealing with in their lives.
2. Rest breaks are necessary.
Having time away from your work is important for it to progress, ironically. When I focused too much on my work constantly, it clouded my view on how it would be received. Being able to come back to my work later with a new lens allowed me to pick out my mistakes and correct them, as well as identify my strong points and work on it.
3. Knowing when to ask for help.
A lot of people find it difficult to ask for help, whether that be work related, or just generally mundane needs. I wish I asked for help in my degree earlier, not just from my fellow classmates, but also tutors as well as the university services. When I did ask, a burden was lifted. Asking for help does not hurt anyone.
4. Your perspective can change a few years later.
Things that I believed at the start of my degree have either been shattered, changed, or developed. It is okay to not hold the same perspective that you once did a few years ago. We learn and experience new things, which contributes to our full grasp of life as we know it. I am not the same person now compared to when I was eighteen years of age. So it would make sense that my perspective on life would change, and that is okay. It does not make me a dishonest person for allowing them to evolve, only a person with agency to grow with them.
5. Time is important.
These four years have by far, been the most challenging, but rewarding years of my life. It may not seem like a long time in the grand scheme of things, but even a single minute shouldn’t be wasted. I wish I used my time better, working on developing my skills and hobbies when I did have free time. It’s difficult to go through life with no regrets, and one of mine is wasting time. Nonetheless, I’m still growing into the woman I hope to one day become, and will try my best to use my time effectively.
6. The difference between working hard and working smart.
I was fully convinced that if I put in a solid eight hours a day towards studying, then I should gain that back with results. That is not the case. I eventually realised that those eight hours were pointless if I wasn’t learning effectively. You could achieve more in two hours studying the right things, as opposed to ten hours focusing on topics which are not that useful. Know the difference.
7. Living in our time.
Putting things into perspective, I realise that my fellow classmates and I will change the world, or even just change our own worlds, no matter how big or small. My generation is constantly being slanted by the media for our lifestyle, beliefs and choices. In all honesty, I do not understand the negativity, especially in relations to education. We choose to fight for easy access to education for EVERYONE who chooses to pursue this path. Yet, we are portrayed as selfish and demanding. Regardless, I think it is important to represent our place in history positively, and so we should live by our choices instead of having the older generation negate our experience of life.
8. Moving forward at our own pace.
When I decided to go on a year abroad in Thailand to study and travel, I was extremely happy but nervous, too. I came back one year later with friends who have already graduated, engaged, employed in a new job, and essentially just moving forward with their lives. This made me feel as if I was a step behind, having one more year to complete my degree. However, I later realised that I wasn’t. I was merely moving at my own pace, which is completely fine. I needed to focus on my own path instead of being worried about what others were thinking.
9. The importance and privilege of having access to education.
I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to study at one of the best institutions in the UK and the world. The University of Sussex will always have a special place in my heart. Growing up in a working-class area, many students at my school were never expected to make it far, in terms of education. A few even dropped out of school altogether before completing their GCSEs. I am one of the lucky few to have gone further and onto a degree. It made me sad to see wasted potential in students who were never given the chance, where no one believed in their abilities, and society labelled them as failures. I cannot leave behind my roots, and will continue to speak up about my experience and the experiences of those students who were neglected by the education system, and fight in any way that I can to make education accessible for people like them, if that is the path they want to take.
10. Family is everything.
No matter what my results might be, my family will always be with me. I will never leave my family behind or trade them for a new life at university. At every stage and every moment of my degree, my family were there for me. I am truly grateful to them for being the reason I am able to graduate and pursue my dreams.