Over a year ago I started my university
nightmare journey. I’d just finished school and had breezed through a few months holiday. I’d been trying to decide whether I should have a gap year or whether I should go straight in. I remember having to think hard about it. Were fees going to go up? The degree I want to do was five years long so would it be worth taking time off so early? Did I even need a break?
I went straight in. I’d decided. Uni here I come. I was ready to join every society. To go to every lecture. To shake every person’s hand. I was THAT guy.
Then I attended my first few weeks. I sat through tutorials. I did my readings. I started my assignments. I shook everyone’s hand and I joined every society I could.
I soon realised how wrong I had been and how much I hated it.
I linked my hatred of my first few weeks at university to not being used to the environment. I wasn’t ready, I told myself. I had worked myself to the bone in year 12 and I needed to recover from that.
Next year I would go back and it would be different. Totally different. I wouldn’t be the same person and I would be able to handle the work and the stress and the pressure. I’d be fine.
So the following year, I went back. Dropping out was not an option. I was in this for the long haul. 5 years baby. Let’s smash this.
And the feelings stayed the same. If anything, they got more intense. It’s first semester, I thought. Maybe it’s just the shock. I have had a year off after all. It’ll be better.
It hasn’t gotten better. If anything, it’s worse.
So now, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not the type of person who likes university. In fact, I’m the guy that goes to uni to get their piece of paper and get the fuck out. I go to the tutorials to get my name marked off and I do my assignments to a fair quality so I’m making the most of my HECS debt. But I’m not the type of person that loves being in that intense educational environment.
The people that tell you uni will be the best days of your life have to be lying. They have to be.
Here are 8 things people like me who hate uni will understand.
The mandatory attendence
I always believed that uni would be the best time of my life. I would come in and out when I pleased. I could skip classes or go to classes whenever I wanted. Because who needs to learn at uni, right? Wrong. You can skip two tutorials a semester and that’s it. So you go and sit in a room for two hours and try to only scroll through Instagram once and pretend like you care about “talking in groups” about the readings nobody has done.
I left highschool feeling elated that I would never have to do assignments again. I don’t know what I expected uni to be. Some sort of magical place where everyone just automatically consumes knowledge and never has to spit it out or adapt it to a question. But there are assignments. Long ones. And hard ones.
It feels like you’re back in highschool
I remember sitting down to a lecture and hearing my tutor call out the roll. I was convinced, when I left highschool, that I’d no longer have to worry about being marked off the roll like a child. Or put my hand up to ask a question or contribute to a discussion. But it happens. And I feel less like an adult every single time.
It’s 7am. I make my way up to the busstop to become a sardine. To sit by the window with my handbag on my legs as some guy in a suit comes and does his daily manspread. So from Seaforth to Wynyard I’m feeling a knee occassionally hitting mine as I struggle to maintain any morsel of personal space. Then the train. Where people who look like they’ve never been happy in their lives trudge toward the daily grind. It’s 9am. And that wonderful daily commute cost me $4. There goes my second coffee.
The cost of foregone work
I don’t understand how people can work anything over 15 hours whilst going through uni. Everyone I speak to seems to have their shit together more than I ever will. They manage to work 3 days a week, come to uni, do their assignments and still go out. Everyone is superhuman. Or just super organised. Or maybe both? For me, the stereotype of a poor student is very very real.
The cost of actually being there
With HECS, it’s common to forget that you’re paying to be at uni. Unis like to push that being a student is a privelege. Which it is. But it is also a service we pay for and it is extremely expensive. For me, it’s always been a no brainer. To invest in education and make university or any form or tertiary education or vocational training free. But universities are businesses. They want your money. So I constantly wonder whether it’s worth paying for something I don’t appreciate or enjoy. I constantly wonder whether I’m doing what’s right.
The group assignments
Group assignments. For every single subject. They suck. They really suck. Not because the people suck. Sometimes you get good groups (which I’ve always managed to have). But the collective groan when your tutor announces the next assignment is a group assignment shows that noone is ever keen. Ever.
They are so bad at communicating
Unis are really really bad at communicating with their students, particularly, it seems, in a Communications degree. The subject outlines may as well be written in Ancient Greek and they’re always trying a new piece of technology on your cohort. Everything is independent. There’s no direction or support unless you go searching for it. Kind of like starting a new job with no training. Or riding a bike for the first time with no training wheels.
The social judgement that comes from not having/getting/wanting a degree
In this day and age a degree is your currency. It’s your leg up into a job. And it seems to be your only leg up. I contemplate every week why I’m still at uni. I know it’s a choice. I know I’m choosing to be unhappy by being there and that it’s noone’s fault but mine. But sometimes it doesn’t feel like I have a choice. Because there is a stigma attached to being a “drop out”. To being someone who didn’t get a tertiary qualification. That piece of paper that supposedly means so much.
So uni is not all it’s cracked up to be. For me at least.
But the one redeeming factor is that I’ve been able to come across some pretty kick-ass people who I’m grateful to know.