A scholarship is a great opportunity, and an endorsement of previous scholastic success. After all, the organisation offered you this award precisely because they believe in your potential and wish to invest in your future. It shows their confidence in you – that’ll you’ll learn, succeed, and eventually join them as an executive and contribute further.
However, all those expectations can just as easily become a burden. Scholars are generally expected to maintain high GPAs, attend industry events, and spend their holidays at internships or work-oriented overseas missions.
This huge workload can lead to stress, distraction and ultimately burnout. Beyond the glitz and glamour of scholarly prestige is a darker picture of scholars worn out, defeated and depressed in the face of deadlines and expectations. Sometimes, organisations allow one to defer or postpone studies, but more often than not they end up dropping out.
If you want to avoid that fate (and the associated large financial burden), what are some steps you can take to keep yourself on the level? Managing study stress doesn’t have to be hard. Keep yourself steady with these behaviours that apply to scholars and all students:
1. Good time management
Scholar or not, good time management is critical if you want to avoid being crushed under multiple deadlines. University learning is more self-directed than JC or polytechnic, which means your tutors and lecturers won’t remind you about what is due or where to hand it in – they expect you to submit your assignments on your own time.
Note down important dates in your calendar, and use a method like the Pomodoro Technique to keep yourself on-time and on-target.
It’s equally important that you prioritise your tasks so that you can focus on the important ones first and get them out of the way. For the most part, important academic milestones like due dates and presentations should be near the top of the priority list. After that, look at what resources and effort each task asks of you, and list them accordingly. For example, the time-consuming part of the research paper tends to be in the sourcing and writing, not so much in the editing and submission.
2. Keep in contact
When you accept the scholarship, you’ll probably be introduced to a person from the organisation who serves as your liaison of sorts. You’ll want to keep them updated on your university life – what modules you’re taking, what difficulties you have faced, and what sort of programmes and activities interest you.
By keeping them in the loop, they’ll be in a better position to offer help and advice should you need it. In some cases, the organisation contact even sends care packages to overseas scholars packed with local goodies! They also recommend internships, mentorships and programmes that suit your study needs.
3. Pick and choose your modules carefully
As a scholar, there are certain expectations from you in terms of grades. Thus, you need to be careful not to “overload” yourself with interesting but difficult modules. While it’s tempting to sign up for anything that catches your eye in university, keep in mind that new and novel subjects often need a longer study time.
Generally, we advise prioritising modules necessary for your course. Electives can be selected from course-related subjects, like a course on Business Applications for AI to complement your IT degree. For the activities that catch your interest like wine-tasting or musical instruments, consider delving into them through your club activities or dorm excursions instead.
4. Talk to people and form friendships
Social contact is one of the best ways to beat the blues! (Yes, even if you’re an introvert.) You’ll enjoy going to class or work a lot more if you actually enjoy the company of the people there. Having someone to sit with during lectures or meeting a friend for lunch will help keep your spirits high.
And if you’re struggling, open up about it. You can try speaking to the mental health professionals at school, who tend to be trained to help with deadline blues, homesickness and other university-centric stressors. Alternatively, approach friends, lecturers or your organisation contact and see what help they can offer.
University, like any stage in life, is not something to be shouldered alone. Share the burden and care for others and yourself.
5. Take care of your health
Research shows university students often have a comparatively poor diet. They also tend to exercise less and sleep less, especially when buried under other commitments.
Don’t buy into the pose of the hardworking, never-sleeping and always-up university student, whose bed is covered in books and who runs on Red Bull, coffee and a mixture of the two. Sufficient rest and a healthy diet are vital if you want to finish your degree and keep on top of things.
It’s time to do some adulting – teach yourself to cook, schedule house chores once a week, and make yourself go to the gym. Go for healthier options during meal times and refrain from that late night feast in front of the television. In addition, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Exercise produces endorphins – the body’s “feel-good” hormones – which can help improve your mood and help you feel better about yourself!
Your degree is a marathon, not a sprint. So develop habits and structures for the long-term, so that you can keep ahead of the rest!
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