6 Emotional Stages of Coursework

6 Emotional Stages of Coursework

We've all been there.

Stage 1: Relaxed

“The Coursework has only just been set. There’s no need to start it now!”

Your lecturer has just set you the coursework, and life is good. Everything looks reasonably simple and logical, so it shouldn’t be a problem, especially as you have two months to complete it. You plan to start the assignment as early as possible, so you’re not one of those classic students pulling an all-nighter just before the deadline—innovative thinking (Insert smirking emoticon here).

Stage 2: Calm

At least four weeks, you still have ages until the assignment is due. Although you can’t remember the exact day it is due, you’ll check closer. Anyway, you have that friend’s birthday meal at Pizza Express to go to, and you’ve got no idea what to get them as a present. Currently, this is your biggest priority/worry, and it must not resort to purchasing them a bottle of Glenns. What’s the assignment on again?

Stage 3: Mild Panic

Okay, so the assignment is due in 2 weeks. All your friends and classmates finished it weeks ago, and you still can’t remember the assignment. This is the stage where you should start getting the gist of the coursework, but then again, you do have that thing on one day this week. Therefore, it makes more sense to “start afresh” next week when you can dedicate all your time to the assignment and not be distracted by anything else. Your Pizza Express friend has also just invited you to their place, so it would be rude not to; you’ve got that bottle of Glenns to drink.

Stage 4: Paralysing anxiety

At this stage, you’ve realised that you have a week left to do the assignment, and you’ve scanned the brief so you know what to do. The only problem is you have no idea what to do. The guidelines could be written in Swahili, and it would make just as much sense. However, you’re so stricken with fear and regret that you can’t open your laptop, let alone trawl through hundreds of academic journals, looking for one sentence that substantiates your introductory paragraph. Crap. (Insert sad and guilt-ridden emoji here)

Stage 5: Desperation followed by determination

It’s the night before the assignment. Now is the time to become a grown-up (or woman) about the situation. You’ve made a mistake; you shouldn’t have left it this late, but there is still time to rectify this dire state of affairs. It's time to crack on, purchase a few litres of energy drinks and sugary snacks, and prepare for a long night. Throughout stage 5, you may also experience sub-stages such as:

Overconfidence due to mild success – you feel like you’re powering through the assignment to the stage that you’re not even worried anymore. You have plenty of time; maybe you can stop and watch the infomercials on ITV 4 about a mop, a pressure cooker or jeggings.

Misery and despair- the overconfidence stage didn’t last long, and you’re in a rut with the submission time slowly creeping up. At this stage, you’ve lost perspective on the world and life, and you feel like you are the most critical person in the history of humanity. This stage can be diagnosed when the student slams their head into their books and laptop, lies face down on their bed or weeps uncontrollably—the most pitiful sub-stage to encounter as a bystander.

“The Zone”- you feel invincible regarding this assignment. The sentences flow, theory slots seamlessly into the body, and referencing is a breeze. Nobody can touch you; you are the messiah of assignments; maybe next year, they will take you on as a lecturer.

Stage 6: Exhaustion and Relief

Finally, it’s over.

And then comes that classic line, in a similar way to the day after a night out, you’ll say something like:

“I will never do that to myself again.

Next time, I will start the assignment early.”

And repeat the entire process for the next assignment.


Jake Li

University of Westminster Student

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