What I Learnt During My Dissertation.

So today I’m talking all about what I learnt during my dissertation. Unlike many other third year students, our dissertation was the first thing we handed in this academic year which meant Christmas was not only a seasonal celebration but it marked the end of our biggest essay yet which is seen as a pretty big deal. This is true and I learnt so much throughout this process I thought it would be useful to share how I found the experience to current dissertation writers or just other students knowing their dissertation is approaching in the next few years and wanted to read more about how it really is.

What I Learnt During My Dissertation

1/ Much like a Benefit Mascara, this thing is so over hyped. Think of it as an essay as that is all it really is when you take two steps back. For me, I had broken down my 8750 word essay into four main chapters which worked out at less than 1,500 per section (because you’ve got your intro/conclusion to add in their too) so seeing them as mini projects made it more manageable and it didn’t become too daunting.

2/ Find something you are passionate about makes this one of the best essays you will write about. For me I stripped everything I had learnt from uni to one side and looked into myself about a subject I wanted to research, learn more about and see ways of changing. Body image expectations is very much something I wish I could change, I focused on the effect on women and how the Internet makes such unrealistic ideals more accessible than ever before. Researching something you have a genuine interest in makes this something you want to research not something you have too. This is essential. Trust me.

3/ Time will go super quick. Seriously, I only felt like I started it a few weeks ago and it’s all over? I know this sounds cliché and I’m sure something your tutors will drill in to you: Time Management is essential. No, you don’t need to spend 60 hours a week on it. I worked throughout my dissertation writing and was fine. Do not leave it to the last minute. You crazy? It’s like a mini relationship – you get out of it what you put in. Make a slight plan, plan when to read, when to write, when to edit and when to read through the whole thing. No matter how long you get, it will zoom by. Make the most of it!

4/ Linking to the previous – make sure you get feedback and talk to your tutor as much as possible. This is your opportunity to get a professional view on how your project is going and what to stop. My tutor was not the best and stopped face-to-face tutorials after only a few weeks (one of the many gripes with my course) but any confusion or drafts I wanted to be given the green light were only an email away and so communication is key.

5/ Don’t be afraid to get rid of text. I wrote an entire chapter and having read it back I knew it didn’t sound right. I felt the rest of my text was good but this chapter was only ‘ok’ and so I boldly deleted the whole thing and started again with new sources and a new take on the same subject. This was such a hard thing to do but once I finished it I was so happy to have had the guts to be harsh on myself as it was so much better the second time around. Be hard on yourself and if you know you can do better, do it.

6/ This is one of the biggest things and I can’t stress the importance: Relax! Getting stressed is not going to help you out in the slightest. Make time for yourself where you don’t even think about your dissertation. Relaxing and stepping back can be more productive as you look at your document with a fresh mind and you are often more inspired when you’re at your most calm state.

7/ My last word of advise is just to informally talk to people about your chosen subject. This works very well if it is about something you are passionate about and have enthusiasm for as it will arise so naturally in conversation. By talking to tohers they can provide an opinion that could be vital in seeing another perspective on your subject. This helps your argument becoming less bias and more empathetic towards everyone involved. Shout out to my work team who were probably sick of talking about my subject but helped me build such a well rounded argument.

So there we have my top tips all about how to ultimately survive your dissertation relatively stress free. Handing in your dissertation is one of the most amazing feelings (yes Molli and I took a selfie stick to document the whole thing!) and it is a huge achievement to complete such a large project.

A little note here is that I dedicated my dissertation to three sets of people and I feel it is only natural to mention them here:

  • Firstly and most importantly, I would not have stayed at uni was it not for Rich moving to London to support me. I would have quit int he first year following how depressed I felt with the experience. He was there for cuddles, a shoulder to cry on and constantly telling me how proud he was. Yo have a boyfriend as special as him is rare and I can’t thank him enough for helping me to grow so much as a person. My rock.
  • Secondly, my sister. Jess, you have and always remain to be an inspiration to me, my dissertation was very much influenced by her illness many years ago but does she remain negative over what she has been through? No. She wants to be a nurse to help others that were in her position to become healthy. How amazing is that!
  • Next up, my parents. Their unconditional love between each other and to me and Jess mean we are always encouraged to chase our dreams regardless of what they are. They are so supportive no matter what we do.7
  • I also want to mention here, that Molli has been the greatest friend I could ask for. We are the bitchiest, sassiest duo but I’m so glad I found her. They always say you meet best friends for life through University and I’ve hit jackpot with mine. She’s amazing and although I’ve only been close to her for around two years, it feels like you’re my twin sister, I love you dearly.

Have you completed your dissertation or have it approaching? Any advice you’d like to add? Let me know!

Amy x

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