Education: Mature student blues

Alan Whelan's entry for our competition What Makes You Angry? wins a pounds 100 Blackwell's book token. He describes the more irksome things about going to university later in life
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The Independent Online
What makes me really mad is English courses that seem as though they have nothing but Victorian literature on them.

And boring lecturers who hate being challenged on dearly held opinions.

And lecture rooms with insufficient places for us all to sit down.

And libraries that stock only one copy of that crucial text (join the queue).

And seminars that are so full that only half of the students have time to speak.

And the other half who refuse to talk to you for the rest of the term if you contradict them.

And presented papers that are not graded but are still mandatory.

And politics lecturers who show off by putting their doctorate thesis on the primary reading list, then tell you it's not actually published yet.

And exam dates that fall two days after the last major assignment is due.

And parents who say: "What are you doing it now for, why didn't you buckle down when you were at school?"

And workmates who say: "Looking for another job, then?" every time the degree comes up in conversation.

And librarians who say: "Come back at 8pm if you want me to show you how the CD-Rom works."

And refectory food that never looks like its name-tag.

And ex-Oxford types who say: "But it isn't a real university though, is it?"

And end-of-essay comments that say: "This would have been a first if only you had included X."

And finding out that no, you haven't discovered a totally original perspective to interpret Ulysses after all.

And being older than the lecturer so you try not to bring attention to yourself and what have you been doing with yourself all these years, anyway?

And being told that we don't say things like that any more, no matter what you think.

And getting the top grade in an assignment but then you do have the advantage of all that worldly experience.

And having to stare up at the nose hairs of tutors who have modelled their dress sense on grunge, only more untidily.

And lecturers who give hand-outs, then read them word-for-word to the window blind.

And librarians who write irate notes to you for ordering too many inter- library loans when none of the ordered books arrive in time to write the essay.

And students who hide books on the wrong shelves in the library so they can retrieve them later, except they forget where they put them.

And most of all what makes me really mad are wives who say: "I bet you feel a lot better for that little performance now, don't you? And do the washing-up before you come to bed."

"Yes," I said. "Yes, I will. Yes."

Donald Henderson and Isabel Dexter have also won pounds 100 Blackwell's vouchers.

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