This is it final years… Christmas is nothing more than a distant memory, the New Year has come and gone, and your last term as an undergrad is well and truly underway. It can, of course, mean only one thing. The dreaded D word. 😨
With those 10,000 words looming more ominously than ever, here’s a few top tips on how to stay sane during dissertation.
1. Plan 📝
P-L-A-N. Please. You know it makes sense. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, whether you’re a sticky note addict, spreadsheet swat or full-on dissertation master planner – whatever works for you. The important thing is that you don’t try to reel off the whole thing without any preparation at all. If you’re struggling for inspiration, take a look online and see what dissertation planning tools are out there. A quick Google should do the trick.
2. Use your supervisor 👨🏫
Students are assigned a dissertation supervisor for a reason. They’re there to help you generate ideas, stay motivated, make good progress, answer questions and, most importantly, check that you have everything you need. If you’re struggling with your dissertation whether it be for academic or personal reasons, your supervisor (as well as your personal tutor) can help. What they’re not, however, are mind readers, so it’s important you let them know when you’re finding things difficult. As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved… or whatever it is.
3. Meet up with classmates 👯♀️
Planning, writing and thinking about dissertation every waking minute is stressful. But don’t forget there are others who know exactly what that feeling is like – and they’re probably sitting right next to you. Why not try meeting up with friends and classmates every week or two for a (much needed) sanity check? Not only will this help you stay on track with your dissertation but talking things over with classmates in the same boat will help you look out for one another. While dissertation might seem like the centre of your universe for the next few months, your wellbeing is always more important.
4. Break it down ⬇️
This is important. Tempting as it might be to put things off until the deadline pressure really starts to kick in, funnily enough it’s probably best not to whack out your dissertation over a few caffeine-fuelled all-nighters. Instead, break it down into sections (usually the same old headings you’ve come across before: introduction, literature review, results… you get the picture). Once you start to break it down into smaller chunks, that 10,000 words seems a whole lot less daunting.
5. Remember it’s just an essay 🤯… 😌
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking dissertation is something terrifyingly new and nothing like anything you’ve ever done before. But remember, it’s just an essay. An extended one at that, but an essay nonetheless. In fact, you’ll probably have written well over 10,000 words in the last few months alone, albeit split across smaller tasks. The good thing about final year is, generally, you’ll have less contact time, fewer assignments and more time to spend writing up the biggie…
You’ve got this Aston.