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Top tips for surviving your final year

Finishing something well is always important isn’t it?

There are always a few Usain Bolt types in your year, who seemingly fly through their degree without breaking sweat. Maybe that’s you, but for most of us mere mortals final year is a hard grind, both academically and often spiritually.

My degree at the Royal Academy of Music boiled down to essentially playing the trumpet for four years, so I won’t pretend that dissertations and lengthy exams dominated my final year, but hopefully some of these principles overlap:

1. Enjoy

In the midst of ever nearing deadlines, remember that God intended for you to be studying your particular subject, and that you can learn more about His world and use the brain He gave you to work well. Enjoy the time you have to learn new things, work hard and meet new people.

2. Endure

Try to plan your time well so you don’t end up pulling an all-nighter in the library every week. When things are busy, keep enduring. ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but pray about everything.’ Philippians 4:6

3. Rest

Take time off (you’re joking?!) God made us and knows that we need to rest. Try and take chunks of time off from studying, throw a Frisbee around, go out for a coffee or see your family for the weekend.

4. Read

Linked with rest, what are you going to read in your final year other than chunky textbooks? You might think you have no time, but things are even busier when you get a job, or if you get married and have a family.

How about trying to read through the whole Bible, maybe get a friend to do the same? Have a read of some good Christian books. Variety is good: books on busyness, holiness, church history, biography, doctrine, evangelism. John Piper helpfully suggests fifteen minutes reading a day gets you through twenty books in a year!

5. Serve

It’s not hard for serving others (both at church and other friends) to drop off the radar. As the final exam closes in, we can easily become so focused and driven by that first, or that pass mark, that we forgot completely to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves.’ The chance to serve others is a powerful witness, especially in final year!

6. Feed

Maybe you were on CU exec, or involved in CU to some extent, and this year you fancy giving CU a miss. That would be a great shame; the CU needs you, and your experience will be hugely valuable! And just as much as any other year, you need to feed on God’s Word.

When tempted to skip church again or cut down on midweek student group attendance, remember that others need you (Hebrews 10:24) and that you need fellowship, encouragement and nourishment from God’s Word yourself.

7. Evangelise

Remember how good the gospel of the Lord Jesus is! I know you will have heard it a hundred times, but university is such a unique stage of life to explain the message of God’s grace to others. Students are open to explore and listen.

Work hard and also make the most of every opportunity God gives.

Nathan Richards (Royal Academy of Music 2007-11)

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