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Reasons Why Students Aren't Quite As Awful As You Think


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As always, in 2016 the British university student is a breed as strongly disliked as 5p carrier bags, Donald Trump and the tampon tax.

As an English Literature undergraduate, I have gritted my teeth at all the ridiculous misconceptions that are thrown my way, and it seems that my Facebook friends shared my feelings, when I asked them to reveal the misconceptions that really get under their skin these were the most common..... 

"Students do nothing all day and have no idea what stress is."

Frequently I find myself juggling three assignment deadlines, a part-time job, four books to read each week, as well as a vague social life and the upkeep of my general wellbeing, I think it is fair to say that there is plenty to cause me stress!

Certain, ignorant, people seem to think you need to have certain things to be ‘stressed’. These can include a full-time job, a family to look after or a relationship breakdown.

Despite common misconceptions, the young are among the highest of those at risk of stress disorders, with a 2013 NUS survey finding a staggering 92% of respondents suffering with mental distress. I can safely say that I am unaware of the concept of sleep, and a state of stress and panic has become part of my general demeanour, as I am sure is true of many students across the country and indeed young people across the world.  

"Your degree isn't even worth anything nowadays."

Now I will admit that perhaps a degree in internet memes may not get you very far in life, however as a student working on a degree in the arts, it is definitely grating when you're told that you are wasting three to four years of your life for a piece of paper that will not get you anywhere, and all you have to gain is a lifetime of debt.

Despite this popular misconception, I have learnt an incredible amount besides the meaning behind a Dickens novel in my two years at university, and I truly believe that university teaches an individual so much more than a level of expertise in their subject area. I am sure many other English Literature students in particular would agree that we have essentially taken beginner's courses in History, Sociology, Psychology, Creative Writing, plus Religious, Film and Media Studies, as we learn a startling amount besides the number of deaths in Hamlet.

Our career options include marketing, sales, the media, publishing, charity work, journalism, teaching and so many more, all of which consider a degree in the arts to be hugely valuable, if not an essential, asset. 

"You all live in squalor, don't wash and are incapable of cleaning anything."  

I am the first to admit that I miss the lovely lady that came to clean our kitchen and bathrooms three times a week during my first year, more than words can say.

However, I would like to suggest that we are quite a clean bunch, as the student friends I have maintain a consistently pleasant odour, with the most common domestic in halls seeming to be concerning the pinching of my wifi password, rather than their mess in the kitchen.

Although, I cannot rule out the time when our crumbling student house found itself without a working shower or a reliable plumber - those were dark days. 

"University is the east route out of school. You have no idea how the real world of full-time work works, you're just putting it off."

I can honestly say that some of my student friends are some of the most ambitious, hard-working and conscientious I know.

We have been granted three years to plan our future, and seize as many opportunities as we can whilst earning a living and learning to look after ourselves. I know people who work up to thirty hours a week just to meet the rent, others who juggle more than one part-time job and some who take up volunteering or competitive sports, all on top of a reading list, regular deadlines and up to thirty hours of contact studying each week.

We have access to a careers service, professional training and work experience, and a vast majority of students seize these opportunities in order to fight the crippling sense of impending doom that accompanies entering the real world and finding a graduate job. Many students, such as myself, opt for a professional training year, in which we spend one or two semesters in real jobs, earning a real salary, and applying what we have learnt so far. Being a student is so much more than remaining in education. We are just taking the slightly longer road to success. 


Of course, I cannot speak on behalf of the entire student population, and I am very much aware of the many students who seemingly make these speculations a reality. But in the words of William Blake, "to generalise is to be an idiot". 

However, I think I can speak on behalf of (the majority, at least) of the student population, and express how grateful we are to be in the privileged position that we find ourselves. This is very much a #firstworldproblem, but also a view that I feel needs to be shared. 

Yes I like to sleep in until the early afternoon sometimes.

Yes, I like to order fast food just to procrastinate on cooking and washing up.

Yes, I am young.

We are learning, in every way possible. So instead of dismissing that wide-eyed, twitching mess sporting a free freshers t-shirt and clutching revision notes as a lost cause, get them a cup of tea, not the third degree.

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