What I Learned In My Final Year Of College

Yesterday was my last day in university, and I’m so happy to be free.

It’s no secret that I did not have the time if my life in third level, or any part of the education system for that matter. It’s been an annual tradition since first year to look back at the academic year and share what I life lessons I learned and this year was no different. If you’re new here, check out what I learned in first, second, and third year.

A student studying with a book, highliters, and pens in bed

What I Learned In My Final Year Of University

1. Keep Your Priorities In Order

2019 has been a rough year so far, since January my grandfather has been dying and passed away in late March, so  – despite the grief and big existential crisis I had – I spent most of the semester prioritising spending time with him than getting worked up over assignments. I still did my college work on time and as best I could, but I didn’t over work myself because in the grand scheme of my life, an assignment worth a couple of percent of my final grade doesn’t matter, but spending my last days with him does.

I saw him two days before he died, and he held my hand and joked that he was gonna come home and annoy me, and that was a day I’ll cherish forever. I’m glad I saw him – even if I was inconsolable – rather than doing college work that day. I’d have loved for him to have been around to see me graduate, but I know I’m lucky enough to have had 22 years with him.

2. There Are Some Great People Out There

Second and third year showed an petty, immature side to people that I was surprised still existed in smart, educated 20-something year old’s. This year didn’t change that, but I’ve overwhelmingly seen people who are kind, compassionate, and care about what’s right. People who really didn’t have to help me or show any concern or support, did and I hope life brings them all the good karma they deserve.

3. Take Your Life Back

Again, second and third year played a big role here but in short: for a year and possibly longer, I abandoned all my extracurricular activities in college – not because I wanted to but because I felt unwelcome and dare I say even unsafe in certain clubs, but for my final year I decided to take it back. I joined new clubs and went to events, and was much happier for it. I did end up missing a few events and meetings because of the first lesson this year, but I’m happy I spent my last year making positive memories.


There were less lessons than usual, a lot of the year just felt like reinforcing things I’d already learned, so I guess I went full circle which is quiet poetic.

Overall, the theme here seems to be to work hard but don’t work so hard it takes over your whole life. A lot of people spent their time in the education system – which is about a quarter of a life time – like their life hasn’t begun yet, but then when they graduate and start their career, they don’t even have the time to see their friends or do things as often as they’d like to anymore. Don’t wait until graduation, the weekend, and then retirement. Life doesn’t begin after school, life began the moment you were born. Live it.

If you’re in college, or graduated, what life lessons did you learn?

A graduation in the sunset, students throwing their hats

7 thoughts on “What I Learned In My Final Year Of College

  1. Congratulations and welcome to post-university life! I definitely agree with “work hard but not too hard”. One of my regrets was being preoccupied with getting straight As (the perfectionist in me), so I limited extracurriculars and activities. I wish I was more social, because that is what you do remember years later, not coursework necessarily. I wish you the best, Aisling!

  2. I love the message of this post and it’s something I definitely agree with as someone who has graduated. There needs to be a balance between work and life otherwise you’re missing out on just being alive, but you obviously don’t want to neglect all assignments either. I’m someone who focused way too much at uni on my work and wish I could have been more social. Congratulations on finishing uni!

  3. Congrats!! Final year really helped me learn a lot about myself. Sadly it was the wrong sort of stuff to learn and I’ve spent two years UNlearning it!

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