Thought Leonardo DiCaprio has it hard at the Oscars? Try being an arts or humanities undergraduate. Forever the bridesmaid in the midst of degrees considered ‘more useful and important in the real world’, you constantly have to navigate a minefield of questions about your prospective teaching career while, at the same time, buckling under the weight of weekly reading.
In recent months, there has been no shortage of articles on the plight of humanities and arts undergraduates, but there’s more to their pain than meets the eye, so here are five art student problems you probably never even knew existed:
1) Termly existential crises
Art students read and think, then read and think some more. Somewhere along the line, trysts with Marx’s Capital Volume 1 and frequent stints at life drawing classes take their toll. Then it hits. The existential crisis. The deep thoughts and debates sparked by lectures and seminars leave you questioning just about everything in the world - and then some. From the inescapable reach of Apple’s Capitalist empire, to the actual point of your degree and validity of human existence as we know it. Ouch, deep.
2) Caught in between being ‘edgy’ and ‘hipster’
The single definitive trait that distinguishes a humanities student from their less colourful counterparts? Our wardrobes, of course. Early mornings see us agonising over which look to go for. Edgy, verging on gothic: Dr Martens and Black Duster coat in tow, or the thrift shop hipster vibe complete with an oversized denim or suede jacket as a staple? The sorts of choices that can make or break one’s day.
3) Endless wait for that moment of essay inspiration
There’s nothing worse than wading through an argument, convinced it makes no sense as a looming deadline approaches. With the clock winding down and your sweat glands beginning to work overtime, it finally happens: the mental spark you’ve been lacking hits you like a gust of wind. Unfortunately, it arrives an hour before the deadline. Once you click submit, you tell yourself it’s never going to happen again - then they cycle repeats itself a week later.
4) Careers fair woes
Careers fairs: the most painstaking events in the university calendar. They only serve to remind us of our precarious career prospects. After all, trawling through Dickens won’t secure a £10,000 summer internship. Corporate giants galore, flash finance companies, and classy consultancy firms; you often feel lost in the milieu of big money sponsors - and just end up attending for the freebies.
5) Constant rumours of impending downfall
In the midst of constant debates on the supposed demise of the arts, flicking through a newspaper or loading up a news site is enough to give a humanities student a heart attack. Funding cuts and an unfavourable job market contribute to a bucket load of angst. Studying what you’re passionate about shouldn’t be so stressy. Cue the existential crisis - and all of the above.
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