Are you comfortably numb?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Back to the Univarsity

And so a new term begins, and we all settle comfortably into the snuggly bubble that is student life. It's an infinite improvement on last year, as instead of flatmates that go home on a Thursday to Monday, don't let us use their draining rack and washing up bowl, and possess obscene tattoos involving angels having a bit too much of a good time, I am living with people I actually want to live with - my friends. In a nice house. In a road which is extremely close to uni. So no more early morning half-hour treks into lectures just to realise it wasn't worth getting up when they cancel them without telling you. Now it's only 10 minutes.

Really, though. Being a student is great. I mean, no matter how much I protest to all the cynical tax-payers that I have LOADS of reading to do despite my 8 hours of contact time per week (yes, you read right), there is a little secret I should tell you. As long as you don't tell anyone else. Ready? Okay.

We really don't have that much work to do. Or should I say, we really don't have to do that much work. Because in theory we spend 40 hours per week on our courses. Ahem.

I don't know whether it's always been an integral part of student life or whether education standards have fallen in the British system faster than Russell Brand's trousers, but you really don't have to do that much work to get a good mark in an arts degree... it seems.

I could be sorely mistaken. I hope I am sorely mistaken. But last year it did seem quite ridiculously easy to get a 2:1 given the amount of work I didn't do. A huge proportion of getting good marks seems to be the ability to simply play the system. And if you know how to do this, you're sorted. By playing the system, I don't mean plagiarising people or bribing your lecturers, I mean learning how to get 10 books and get 2 quotes out of each and then throw them into your essays to make it sound as if you are thoroughly acquainted with every book each author has ever written on the topic. It's easily done. The point is not many people know how to, so if you do you've already got a head start. The term 'reading list' is a bit of an inaccuracy really.

I'm probably going to have a very rude awakening this year and find that after the rose-tinted paradise of Year 1, doing work that actually counts towards your final degree result is a different kettle of fish entirely. But the fact remains that students do have a lot of free time. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, as long as you use it well. I love the fact that I have so much time to contribute to extra-curricular activities (and let's remember that this phrase can embrace a variety of 'activities', from sleeping to watching Trisha to working on the newspaper). After all, an important part of being at university is developing other more communicational and relational skills (such as the above activities... for example, sleeping is working on your relationship with your bed). In fact, graduate employers are now complaining that people are spending too much time studying rather than on extra-curricular activities and that this is diminishing their employability.

So at the end of the day, although the tax-payers can moan all they want, I say, bring on another 2 years of having some work to do, but not that much, and bring on the dancing like a fool to Stevie Wonder on a Wednesday night and wasting away in the Redbrick office. After all, if you're going to spend £12,000 on something you expect it to have its quota of fun don't you?


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