Diary of a Third Year: Faking interest will be invaluable for meetings
Thursday 27 May 2010
I'm a few days from the end of my degree. Three exams stand between the real world and me. The gravy train is kicking me off at the next stop. There will be no more chunks of cash each term from the Student Loans Company. My part-time job will have to become a full-time one and letters will arrive demanding the council tax, from which I will no longer be immune.
Some have already taken steps into this brave new world. Politics students finished on 13 May, as their course had no final exams. Their freedom inspires contempt from those still hacking away at revision and just wishing for the end of their 14-hour study days. Every Facebook status screaming "FINISHED!" is met with a chorus of abuse from the miserable sods still stuck in the library.
Other students must slog on to mid-June. My exams are will be done by 29 May. Having them this early evokes jealousy or sympathy. Some want the extra revision time, others want them over and done with. I finish nearly two weeks before my flatmates. I've resigned myself to becoming the house hate-figure in that period.
In terms of teaching, however, I've already finished. Science students have lectures scheduled right up until the first exam. Arts students, like me, generally have a gap between any final lectures or coursework deadlines and the start of their exams. Cynics remark that this shows the vacuity of arts degrees compared with science degrees. I prefer to believe that our course administrators are simply more organised – or, perhaps, more forgiving.
I had my last seminar two weeks ago. Never again will I have a forum to share my thoughts on secularisation, or the implications of democratisation in post-colonial Africa. In many ways, seminars are more useful than they sound for post-university life. Sure, the topics won't be the same. But the skill of faking interest as someone chats rubbish will prove invaluable during the monotonous meetings that real work entails.
Lectures, however, have no such benefit. Sitting in a hall with 200 others is an ineffective way of learning. Their only saving grace is the occasional witticism found graffitied on the chair in front. A lot of lecturers simply aren't very good at lecturing. Speaking to hundreds of people at a time takes a skill not universally possessed by academics, yet they all have to do it. The sooner universities use other means of teaching, such as podcasts, the better.
With no more classes to distract me, revision is currently my sole occupation – or at least it should be. Aside from my three looming three-hour exams, there are other pressing problems on my mind: like where can I hire my graduation robes? And do I really have to fork out £39 to hire a cloak and a silly hat? Just how serious are the university when they say they won't give me my degree unless I pay my £8 library fine first? I've given them nearly £10,000 over the past three years. Surely a compromise can be reached. Better not risk it, in any case. I'll have wasted all that money on my graduation robes otherwise.
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