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It’s not very likely that you’ll stumble upon a degree that you find “easy,” when attending university. That’s just not really the point of the whole exercise, after all. That being said, certain degrees are a cut above the rest in terms of difficulty, and the amount of consistent and hard work that needs to be applied, in order to obtain a satisfactory outcome.
Sometimes, this is because the jobs that those degrees set you up for are really high stakes, and require an unforgiving degree of precision. After all, medical school may be notoriously tough – but would you really want to be seen by a doctor, much less a surgeon, who had skipped half their lectures, and had coasted through their course? Or, by the same token, would you want someone involved in the apparatus of law and order, who hadn’t been through a pretty rigorous set of tests and exams on their criminology degree?
If you find yourself in a tough degree program, it can be easy to become disheartened, frustrated, and to feel like there’s just no way you’re going to make it through without losing your mind. In most cases, you just need to grit your teeth and have faith in your ability to come through in one piece.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a few tips at your disposal that can help to smooth the whole process, either. So, here are some tips.
When the going gets tough, visualize the benefits you’ll enjoy in the future
When you’re grinding through hard work on a daily basis, it can be all too tempting to start believing that there is no light at the end of the tunnel and that this is just the way your life going to be from now on. If you adopt this mindset, however, you are setting yourself up for demoralization and failure.
It’s important to have mental exercises you can engage in, when you are frustrated, to help put things back into proper perspective.
When the going gets tough on your course, one of the best things you can do might be to visualize the benefits you’ll enjoy in the future, if you stick diligently with what you’re doing, and see it through.
Don’t necessarily spend a lot of time visualizing yourself in a great mansion, or sitting on the deck of your yacht, and thinking about how awesome your life is. That might make you impatient more than anything else. What you should do, though, is to imagine yourself on the day of graduation, feeling unbelievably proud, satisfied, and relieved to have made it through.
If you can carry that mental image – and those feelings – with you, you’ll have something to set against the irritations of the moment. If you’re ever tempted to quit, or start coasting, simply ask yourself the question: “am I willing to give up that great feeling of pride and fulfillment?”
Even if your degree seems to drag on forever at times, remind yourself that it won’t last forever and that when you do make it to the other side, you’ll be in a far better position in various ways than you were before you went through the process.
Reduce distractions – do whatever you can to enhance your focus
In recent times, various writers, academics, and researchers have been rediscovering an ancient bit of advice that has been passed down from at least the days of the ancient Greek philosophers, but that which has more or less been forgotten in the last few years. That advice is that the path to success is largely the path of focused attention and work.
Writers such as Cal Newport have commented on the slightly odd trend in modern business circles, for all staff members to be highly connected through social media apps such as WhatsApp, email services, Open Plan workspaces, and so on. The idea behind these strategies is that people will collaborate more effectively if they’re more tightly bound in a workplace communications framework.
On the contrary, however, researchers have found good evidence that all this “noise” and distraction actually reduces people’s ability to put in effective work, and also increases their stress levels, too. Focused work – without any distractions – seems to consistently result in increased performance across the board, lower stress levels, and faster work times, when these things are measured.
If you are in a tough degree program, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to block yourself times for pure, focused, undistracted work. That means several hours at a stretch of hitting the books, without picking up your phone once, checking any websites, playing any video games, or doing anything of that nature. Even just interrupting your work for a few seconds on a social media app, can ruin your ability to be focused and productive for around half an hour afterward.
Focus on meaningful face-to-face interaction during your off time, avoid “killing time”
No doubt you’ve heard the saying that “humans are social creatures,” and there’s good evidence that even introverted people need a decent amount of face-to-face interaction on a regular basis, in order to de-stress, modulate their emotions, and thrive. When you have a free moment or two, and you’re not grinding away at your coursework, focus on getting some meaningful face-to-face interaction.
This could mean going to a social event – but it doesn’t have to. You could just as well join a book club, meet a friend for coffee, or play some board games. But to keep yourself sane, you really should interact with some other people on a regular basis.
Luckily, universities are famous for being filled with student societies, interest groups, sports clubs, and all the rest. And if you can’t find a society for your particular interests, it’s likely that with a bit of work, you will be able to find some people amongst the thousands of other students on your campus who share your passions, and are up for hanging out.