I stopped being a student in the summer of 2015, when I put on my robes and silly hat and walked across a stage to pick up a certificate (I would have preferred a scroll. Or a really cool pen).
However, whereas I became disillusioned with my Environmental Science degree and decided that three years studying it was more than enough, my course mates soldiered on into fourth year. These days I still overhear their conversations regarding statistics and deadlines and plants and what fascinating feature of soil they were writing about this time. Even though it’s good conversation to fall asleep to, it also made me feel a tad nostalgic, but also glad that I wasn’t going through that stress anymore.
Deadlines can make anyone anxious, but especially me, a person who is naturally anxious. I can usually combat this anxiety by making lots of lists and being super-organised. And sometimes I have gone to the extremes of trying to fit in as much revision as possible (e.g. at three in the morning on New Year’s eve, lying on the landing, drunk and ill, clutching my textbook and trying to cram in some Hydrogeochemistry between retching spells).
I have found that there are three types of student at university;
- The Last-Minuter. This is the most common type of student. And understandably so. University is full of things to do; parties, clubbing, dating, societies, Fifa-marathons. All this coupled with the expectation of being last minute, simply because you are a student, leads many along this path of being a Last-Minuter. Many of my friends were Last-Minuters. It made me feel stressed just talking to them, almost like I needed a lie-down just listening to their revision plans, or lack of. These are the sorts of people who party up till about a week before an exam and then will proceed to get about four hours sleep in as many days. Sometimes Last-Minuters get just as good a mark as me. Bastards.
- The Little-By-Littler. This is me. Usually we are planners and will make colour-coded revision timetables, complete with scheduled breaks for Fun. These types normally start reasonably early and do a little bit of work each day, chipping away at the task day by day.
- The Early Birds. By far, the rarest type of student. I can count on one hand how many I have met. Even if you used to be this type of student in school and college, you will most probably not be one now. These people are usually the ones who have bought all of the recommended reading lists (which nobody really needs. Ever). They can also often be found hibernating in the library. Basically, they are the opposite of Last-Minuters, in that they work like a mad-man for the first week and then have nothing to do while everyone else is working like a mad-man, and wonders why nobody has time to come out. Their most frequently used phrase is ‘I just wanted to get it out of the way.’
But no matter how well planned you are and no matter which type of student you are, you will most definitely end up having at least one all-nighter, either as you predicted, or by accident. There are many guides on how to pull an all-nighter, but here are the tips that work for me.
- Complain to a friend. When you are feeling stressed sometimes it’s nice to have a good old whine to a friend that is going through the same thing. Common phrases in these phone calls include ‘f**k my life,’ and ‘we’re gonna get so wasted after this.’
- Avoid energy drinks. For me they have the total opposite effect, and make me totally unable to concentrate.
- Chew chewing gum. This wakes you up with a sort of feeling of pseudo-wakefulness. It’s the freshness of the minty-ness and also the fear of not wanting to fall asleep so you choke to death that means you stay awake.
If you are studying for exams or writing up your coursework, good luck. I don’t envy you.