Planning to make the most of this term

Gareth Hughes

Gareth Hughes is the Clinical Lead for Student Space and is a psychotherapist, researcher and writer on student wellbeing, including the book Be Well, Learn Well

Reflecting on the last term and considering the resources you have can help you to plan to make this term a success.

No matter what stage of your degree you have reached, as you enter into the second term, your experience of being a student will have helped you develop knowledge, understanding, skills and resources that can help you succeed.

Taking time to reflect on what has gone well so far, and what you want to go well this term, can help you to take control and improve your experience. The following questions may help you to do this.

Questions to reflect on last term

1. What went well?

Being a student during a pandemic is challenging. How easy it is to identify what went well in the first term may vary depending on your experiences.

However, if you can take the time and review your term honestly, you may be able to identify some things that have gone well – even if they weren’t ideal. It may help to think about large and small things.

If you didn’t enjoy the term at all, remember that you are still at university and going into your second term. This means you must have displayed commitment to your degree and the strength to keep going. That is valuable learning.

Try to reflect on all aspects of being a student. This includes your academic work, social life, your self-care, your hobbies and your finances.

2. Where was your focus?

Where we place our attention can have a significant impact on how we feel, think and behave. Of course, it is not always possible to completely control this – significant events or illness, for instance, can pull our attention.

But it may help to consider the focus of attention you did have control over. What did you focus on in the first term?

It may have been:

  • building a social life
  • Succeeding academically
  • Worrying about whether you were going to make university work
  • paid work or your finances
  • worrying about people around you

Of course, there were probably a number of things that took your focus – so make a list and consider the balance you gave them.

Now you may want to ask – was the level of attention on each thing helpful? For example, was your focus on building a social life so great that it negatively impacted on your academic learning? Or were you so focussed on academic work that you didn’t take time to relax and have fun? Did worry help to focus you on what needed to be done or did it get in the way?

Try to be balanced as you consider this and be kind to yourself.

3. Is there anything about this term that concerns you?

Identifying things in our future that cause us concern, can help us to take control of them and take action to reduce our concern. Conversely, if we try to avoid thinking about them, they tend to make us more anxious. Think about the term ahead and consider if there is anything about it that is concerning you.

4. What would you like to be better this term?

Having considered last term, what would you like to be better this term? Is there a better balance you could strike? Even if you think only a small improvement is possible, that is still worth thinking about and planning for.

5. What resources do you have?

We all have internal resources we can call on to help us succeed. Think about strengths other people have identified in you – are you good academically? Good at meeting new people? Good at listening? What resources have you displayed so far as a student? What helped you get this far?

As a student you will also have resources available to you at your university. This could include your Students’ Union, your tutor, Student Services, the library, study skills teams, careers advisors and/or a Chaplaincy.

Finally, you may have other external resources around you, such as your family, friends outside university or hobbies and interests.

Planning for next term

Take those things that concern you about this term and that you would like to be better this term and use our action plan to help you take control.

Build your action plan

Think about how you can use your resources to help. Remember, you aren’t trying to make the situation perfect, you are just looking for small steps you can take, to make things a bit better.

Using your learning and resources, you can make it more likely that you have a better second term.