Finalist Thoughts: becoming a good student
Before arriving at Warwick for the first time, I had a very clear idea of what I thought life at university would be like.
Almost three years later, I have a secret to confess.
I was absolutely clueless… in the best possible way, though.
I rocked up at Cryfield (the original one, not the fancier upgrade!) under the impression that my university experience would be solely defined by the subject I would be studying (Politics and International Studies).
Of course, studying for my degree has taken up the bulk of my time (and I don’t begrudge that in the slightest). In that regard, my prejudice about life at Warwick was correct. I’m a bit of a book worm, so it makes sense that I would spend a lot of time agonising over the definition of Euroscepticism for my dissertation!
However, before moving to university, I believed that my final grade would define me. That anything other than a first on every assignment would constitute a failure. That I would be letting myself down if I didn’t leave the University in a historic blaze of glory. (The final point is exaggerated, but you get my point?)
For a time, that was how I approached university. Guided by perfectionism (which I regard as a negative thing, not a net positive), I was desperate to do the very, very best that I could. I pushed too hard, too soon.
That approach backfired.
So, I asked for help.
Now, as I enter the very final stretch of my time at Warwick, I feel much better about university life. I still burden myself with unrealistic expectations… but I’m now self-aware (and open-minded) enough to acknowledge when I need to do something to release the pressure.
You might be wondering what the moral (or point) of this story is?
There are a couple of points I intended to convey:
1 – It’s okay to ask for help
University is hard. It is okay to ask for help – and I truly regret that I am often too stubborn to do so!
To use myself as an example, I find that my willingness to ask for help decreases when I need it the most. As a means of sidestepping my self-sabotage, I now try to ask for help as soon as I realise a problem might arise. It’s obviously not ideal, but it is a plan – at least.
This year, I’ve also leaned on my department for guidance. Writing a dissertation during a pandemic is a challenge, so knowing that I have a supervisor and a personal tutor that I can speak to is incredibly helpful.
In sum, there is help at Warwick when you need it.
You can find information about the wellbeing services the University offers, here.
You can find information about the wellbeing services the Students Union offers, here.
2 – Results day isn’t an existential reckoning
I have always been exceptionally driven by grades. In my case, I am totally to blame: my parents aren’t in the slightest bit pushy, my friends aren’t interested in my academic exploits, and I went to a school where just going to university (let alone Warwick) was regarded as a big achievement (which it is!).
Of course, this won’t apply to everyone. You might feel pressured by something else: family, friends, the world… Whatever the reason, try to put it in perspective.
There is always a next test. There is always a next challenge. Thus, there is always a chance for redemption.
Achievement doesn’t begin and end with the grade on your degree certificate.
I started this blog by admitting that I arrived at Warwick with an incorrect impression of what life at the University would be like.
I thought grades were everything. They aren’t.
So, if we accept the premise that grades aren’t everything, what have I used to fill the gap?
First up, societies. I want to go into the media industry, so I have invested a tonne of time into writing for The Boar and appearing in RAW (Radio at Warwick) broadcasts.
Second, sport. Warwick holds loads of casual sports that you can join… I spent my second year playing in goal for the Global Sustainable Development society. We lost more often than we won, but it was great fun. (We also have rock up and play (free for all sessions) and competitive teams too!)
Finally, exploring the area. I unashamedly love Coventry. I’ve fallen for bubble tea hard. I know exactly where all the best takeaways are in the city centre. I enjoy my day trips to Birmingham, mainly because the city has a certain Canadian café/fast food chain…
What I’m saying is this:
University offers you a world of opportunity. You will regret the ones you don’t take.