This article on the Telegraph website caught my eye: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/student-life/10070315/Ten-things-to-do-before-you-graduate.html.
I am finished with university now, after 5 muddled years and around fifty grand of debt, and I can’t say I’m going to miss it. The library yes, the free access to ebooks and journals for subjects on everything from agriculture to zoology, those rare moments of vigorous intellectual debate, maybe even the Costa coffee kiosks everywhere you turn. I wouldn’t say that I’ve had the most typical university experience, but let’s see if I can check any of these “ten things” off my list.
1. “Go on tour.” I have no idea what this means. Next.
2. “Get a 0% student overdraft.” It’s nigh-on impossible to avoid this, even whilst working 20 hours a week. But, free debt is good debt, yes? Check.
3. “Gain a skill for free that you would have to pay for otherwise.” Hmm. I learnt how to write essays to answer questions that I never understood, if that counts? “Blagging” is definitely a valuable life skill. Check.
4. “Make full use of your student card.” Oh yes. Ohhh yes. Dorothy Perkins is the most generous I found, with a 15% discount, and AMC cinema lets you in for just £4 with this magical card. Also, the student railcard thanks to Natwest; I can honestly say that it’s saved me hundreds of pounds over the years and I will miss it greatly when it expires in December. Check.
5. “Go to an all-student performance.” It never even crossed my mind, though I did consider joining the am-dram society (and quickly changed my mind after the first meeting). Next.
6. “Give an unlikely relationship a shot.” By which I presume they mean ‘date a geek/jock’ and not ‘your history professor’. Neither of those happened, I’m thankful to say. Next.
7. “Go to as many fancy dress socials as possible.” What is this ‘social’ you speak of? I spent all of my time studying and reading every single book on the reading list. Ahem. But really, I do love to dress up and university is the only time you can really get away with it; not getting involved in this sort of stuff is something that I only slightly regret. Next.
8. “Go to all your lectures and do all your required reading for a week – just so you know what it’s like.” Highly recommend this one; do it for more than one week though, it makes those awkward seminars an awful lot easier to cope with. And y’know, that’s kind of the reason you’re there.
9. “Make an effort to get to know someone who has completely different interests from you and/or is from a completely different walk of life.” My closest course-mate is/was (she’s not dead, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever see her again) a girl from Kenya, who had moved over here at 16. She spoke about 7 different languages and was probably the happiest person I’ve ever met. It’s truly amazing the variety of nationalities you will meet at university, embrace it!
10. “Speak to a careers adviser.” I suppose you could, or you could always just Google “careers after graduation” and get exactly the same information. Not that I’m a cynic, but there’s a limit to the advice Student Services can give when even you don’t know where you want to go next.
So that is it; the ten things that everyone should do before graduating. Personally, I’d add in a few more things like “get some work experience” and “hand everything in on time”, but then I’ve always been a bit of a spoil sport. University is great, and yes you get lots of lie-ins and yes you get free money and yes you’re not in the ‘real world’, but it’s not easy. My first year, like most people, I partied, put on a ton of weight, and barely scraped through. Then I realised that wasn’t really how it should be done, and so I worked part-time, knuckled down, spent an awful lot of time in bed watching Lost, and am finishing with grades I can be proud of. Others party 4 times a week, join 27 athletics clubs and still manage to pass everything. Make it your own, do your work, and you can’t go far wrong.