student stories: Mar 30, 2020
Coping with the Pressure Cooker
Story by Hermione

***Photos are not of the author***

The obvious pressure associated with University is the academic one; trying to keep up to date with reading lists, facing what feels like almost constant deadlines, understanding lectures are just a few of the pressures that face students. However, a lot of students are prepared for this sort of pressure, or are at least expecting it. For me, it was trying to juggle the various different commitments that I encountered while studying at University that I found to be the most difficult to cope with.

During my second year at University, I was asked to direct a play for the drama society. The time commitment and the amount of effort that needed to be put in far exceeded what I had originally anticipated. It was not just all the rehearsals, which took place most evenings during the week, but all the additional work too; if a scene had not played out well with the actors, I would spend countless hours trying to rework the scene to incorporate the necessary changes, as well as attending meetings with backstage help, organising props and costumes. The list of things to do was seemingly endless.

On top of this I had decided to volunteer at a local secondary school, working with a group of students on one of their GCSE projects. We had been told so many times by the careers department and our lecturers how important it was to develop our CVs and that employers would be looking for more than just a degree, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to do this. I was volunteering for a prestigious organisation and hoped it would seem impressive once I had graduated and was looking for a career.

This meant that I was volunteering at the school, working a part time job (as so many students need to do in order to pay their way through University) as well as being involved with the drama play, all in my "spare" time.

I loved the challenge of the different activities that I was undertaking, but it soon became evident that it was taking a toll on my academic work. The panic soon started to set in that I was not going to get my assignments completed in time and even if they were they would not be up to scratch. This obviously led to a lot of late nights working followed by many sleepless nights. 

The play was thankfully very successful, attracting a relatively large audience each night and all went according to plan (or that's what the spectators thought anyway). I was facilitating the GCSE project alongside another volunteer, so I was able to lean on her for a bit more support than I would normally expect to do so.

As for my essays, I did manage to get them in, but the grades were not quite as good as I could have achieved if I had been able to put more time and focus into them. I think it's great to get involved in different activities whilst you're studying at University; I certainly got a lot out of them. Perhaps it's best not to try and do everything all at once though.   

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