How to survive your final semester

Exams, dissertations and the inexorable approach of Real Life can all be stressful in your last term of uni. But it doesn't all have to be bad; Alice Tate has a few tips on how to make the best of it all

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The Independent Online

Final term is full of deadlines, cramming and late, late nights in the library. Whilst everyone else is running out of funds due to reinstated take-away habits and chain-smoking tendencies, save your bank balance, your health and your sanity with our final semester survival guide…

Enforced procrastination

Spending 20 minutes on BuzzFeed is better for you and your work than you think. Everyone knows the answer to writer’s block is looking for inspiration elsewhere, and that might just come from 'the 50 cutest kitten GIFs'. Okay, so it might not help with the content of your neo-classical art thesis, but taking time away from Word is important. Take a break, trawl Facebook photos, check the entertainment pages, but just make sure it is only for 20 minutes…

When in doubt, get a coffee

We’re not saying spend hours over a latte, but a quick coffee break is the answer to mid-morning melancholy. Instead of pounding a Red Bull at your desk, synchronize breaks with a study-buddy and leave the confines of the library for a quick cup of Joe. With more caffeine than Red Bull anyway, added benefits come from fresh air and five minutes of freedom.

Commit to emptier evenings

Tuning out of work-mode at stressful times is hard, and turning off your laptop at night is near impossible. If you’re not finishing an essay, you’re making a digital to-do list, checking the exam timetable again, or analysing how much everyone else on Facebook is freaking out. You wake up the next morning no fresher than the night before and find yourself once again at the library with a spinning head. For a more efficient tomorrow, don’t work as late, and commit to a technology-free wind-down period. Whether you chat to your housemate, canoodle your boyfriend or complete your crossword, you’ll reap the benefits tomorrow. 

Small goals and social incentives

Town has gone eerily quiet; clubs are cancelling nights; even the SU is closing early. Students have gone in to library-hibernation and local vodka sales are at an all-time low. Despite convention, cocktails needn’t be taboo from now through graduation. With the rise of boutique cocktail bars (and places that are too expensive for more than one anyway), set yourself realistic daily goals, and use the incentive of a cheeky mojito as the motive to work harder. The most successful people swear by a nightcap.

Don’t survive on pick ‘n’ mix alone

24-stints in the library don’t go hand in hand with healthy eating. Whilst most student unions do have great meal offerings, from bento boxes to home-cooked casseroles, under times of stress, we tend to make terrible decisions. Cue, sugar highs from excessive pick ‘n’ mix binges and 4pm slumps from stodgy chip baps. Its sounds silly but now is the time to follow your mother’s advice.

Save time for breakfast - be it a banana on the run or baked eggs in bed- it isn’t just myth, it works wonders all day. Make for productive afternoons by adding fruit and veg to lunch (novelty, Tesco does sell apples too), and take a proper break to cook a balanced dinner. We’re not saying now’s the time to start slaving over the stove, but Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals was published for this very reason…

Alice Tate is a freelance fashion writer, blogging at and tweeting at @alicetate_