Thursday, 4 October 2012

4 Gross Misconceptions About University

Welcome to university, where the wild winds of intellect collide with the stupidity of first years who think that the Triple Entente is a keg stand marathon. Whether you are aware if it or not, that knapsack strapped on tight during the first days at University is carrying more than just books; it’s also filled with silly thoughts and pictures of things that don’t actually exist within the four walls of degree-obtaining torture. The assumptions we have about post-secondary education are so fat and ill informed we might as well have taken them from the Mayor’s office in Toronto.

Fun fact: his IQ also matches the amount of chins.
Now, I’ve spent a little too long in university to not a) identify these absurd notions of the realities of students and 2) correct them using every sarcastic joke I can find in my arsenal while also probably being a little offensive. Consider that a forewarning.

1) ‘You can’t slack off at University’

Yes you can. In fact, many a student are rewarded for slacking off because often professors are often too damn busy to enforce every single missed deadline or skipped class. Although the end result may not be honours material, the common sloth-like student is still well suited to skim through university while exerting less than half of the effort of everyone else, taking full advantage of the fact that barely meeting requirements is good enough to get you that degree.

The key thing to remember here is that it shouldn’t matter how hard or easy it is to do well in university; what should be important are the reasons you’re here in the first place, and just how in tune you are with those personal motivations. Yes, we’ve all wanted to club the slacker in the eye like the weak seal who just wasn’t fast enough to escape the end of a stick with a rusty hook on the end, but at the end of the day that’s just a side effect that doesn’t really matter. Working hard at something is a learning process and skill in itself that will help you immensely after you graduate. Oh, and that pot head that never left his room next to you and blasted Bob Marley all day? Well…

Now all of his songs end with 'would you like fries with that?'
2) ‘You’re just a number at university’

Universities can be scary things if only for the fact that many of them are absolutely massive institutions that seem to fart out millions of graduates a year after steamrolling through a system designed to slap a number on your chest and force ideologies into your face. The intimidation factor is there and often terrifies students out of actually involving themselves in the community of post-secondary education. Indeed, you are assigned a number and thrown into a system BUT that’s the job of some penny-pushing sorry excuse for an assistant who lives somewhere in the upper rings of administration and wipes the golden butts of higher ups. In the meantime, you’ve gotten yourself into a place that embraces things like sexual experimentation, and there’s more than enough people your age that are ready to explore their Grover fetish.

Grover likes bathtime.
University will be the only time in your life that you will be exposed to an indefinite amount of unique people who form open groups designed to support your personal interests. You have an opportunity to try things you’ve never tried, go places you’ve never gone and completely change who you are. Seriously, when is the next time you can just say to yourself ‘self, today I want to begin a journey as a NERF warrior’, and then immediately find people who want the same thing because there’s a NERF Club that meets twice a week and costs nothing to join? The answer is probably never, and you only have four years to do awesome shit like this, so why the hell aren’t you yet?

3) ‘Bachelor’s Degrees won’t get you anywhere these days’

We’ve been hearing all the fear mongering over how useless university degrees are these days: how hard it is to get a job in your field and the crazy rate of unemployed post-grad students who are stuck living at home under buttloads of debt. While I am not working to delegitimize this phenomenon, I also have a hard time understanding why students who do nothing with their time in university except go to class and play World of Warcraft have the right to complain about joblessness in adulthood.

We no longer live in a world where a piece of paper automatically gets you that dream job. The harsh reality is that, although you may be working your ass off for top grades in all of your classes, you also have to allot some time to apply that into the real world. Luckily for you, university is also a place that gives you umpteen opportunities for this (see above). Volunteer for a political party, join a human rights advocacy organization, do an exchange overseas – whatever your deal, make sure you graduate with a resume that doesn’t just say ‘I went to school and on my spare time I watched German porn’.

4) ‘You can’t party all the time and be successful’

If there’s one absolute summary of what every first year university student is thinking during the days leading up to Frosh Week, it’s this:

Party time.
University and drinking go hand in hand, just like Teletubbies and crack, minus the creepy talking baby sun and swirling multicoloured bellybuttons. So maybe Teletubbies and university have nothing in common, except for the fact that after ten beers you start sounding like one.

It is said that 80% of your learning happens outside of the classroom, but I would say it’s closer to 99.999573%, because statistics taught me how to math. A large part of this learning is going to come out of getting insanely drunk and dancing naked in the university courtyard (and other related activities). Young students have a natural urge to go buck wild, and it’s really only during this point in their youth that it becomes somewhat socially acceptable.

Take it from the man who was once crowned the funneling champion of his first year residence: get that party phase out of your system early on and you’ll avoid becoming that thirty-something year old who can’t handle their whiskey and hits on construction workers. 

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