Why the degree was the least important part of my university career
Monday 19 May 2014
Over the course of the last four years, I’ve spent my weekends writing showbiz gossip for a national website, I’ve run in a closely fought election campaign, I’ve shared a taxi with Tim Westwood (twice) and I’ve drunkenly booked flights to Ibiza (just once, thank god). I’ve also obtained a Politics degree from a well regarded university. But that’s not important. Not to me, anyway.
Last week I sat my final ever exam at university. It went well, and in a month’s time I should – without sounding too presumptuous – graduate with flying colours. My mum will be proud and tell all her friends, we’ll drink some cheap Cava and I’ll get a photo in a silly hat. After that, however, I’ll forget all about it.
University, for me, has not been about the degree. While I’ve worked my arse off and spent countless lonely nights in the library with caffeine seeping from my pores, the academic stuff has always been a secondary side to my student life. What mattered to me was everything else: the bizarre experiences, the diversity of new people and the moment I watched 1,500 people sing along to the pop star I’d booked to play the end-of-term ball.
Towards the end of my second year, I competed in an election to become the Entertainments Convener at my student union. I learned more about politics running around campus in a green morph suit and bribing the electorate with Haribo than I ever did in any tutorial. And once my campaign succeeded, I learned more about economics overseeing a £50,000 budget and counting the number of dry roasted peanuts Basshunter had asked for on his rider than any lecturer had ever taught me. No degree will ever prepare you for real life in the way that sitting on the board of your student union will. And where else will you get to run your own nightclub and share a pint with Newton Faulkner?
No matter how many times my auntie asks whether I’m going to be the next Prime Minister, I never wanted a career in politics. I always wanted to be a writer, and made sure I spent my time at university wisely by racking up as many jobs, as many contacts and as much relevant experience as possible. Waking up hungover every Saturday morning to write celebrity news for Holy Moly was a much better use of my time than writing 3,000-word essays on Winston Churchill. And what’s an employer going to care about more – my live music reviews for The Sun or my knowledge of the Chilean women’s movement?
Don’t ditch your dissertation or fail your exams. Work hard and get a degree you can be proud of. But make the most of the freedom student life affords – not to mention those four-month summer holidays. Just don’t get hammered and go on the EasyJet website. Ibiza’s not much fun in March.
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