Since I’m about to return to the bane of my existence that is university, I thought I’d share my thoughts on my experience there so far.
I applied to go to university to study Broadcast Production at the end of 2016. I wasn’t entirely sure about going; I’d attended university for a year at the tender age of 17, and it didn’t exactly go well. But my college tutor persuaded me to apply – keeping my options open could only be a good thing, right?
Without blowing my own trumpet too much, I didn’t think I would have much difficulty getting a place on the course I wanted. The entry condition was simply to pass my HND – no minimum grade for my graded unit, nothing. Just a pass. As well as having an A in my HNC, I had lots of extra experience in both the radio and video fields. I got an interview, and within a few days I had my conditional offer.
The fact that I didn’t accept my conditional offer for a number of weeks (in fact, it was a couple of months) tells its own story. I really wasn’t sure about going. In addition to the whole “last time round was a nightmare” concept, my chosen course was located over an hour away. A hell of a commute, and I’m really not a morning person. They asked me in my interview if I would consider moving into student accommodation – I had to think of a polite alternative to “I’m nearly 30. If I had to live with a bunch of 18 year olds, I might end up getting done for murder.”
I was also weighing up the possibility of whether I’d learn anything useful. So many of my friends have degrees – about 3 of them actually use the knowledge they gained, and every single one of them is in the accounting field. Broadcast is a practical field – was I really going to learn anything that I couldn’t learn with a bit of practical experience in the working environment?
In the end, as you might have guessed, I caved and decided to go to uni. My tutor kept banging on about the “glass ceiling” and how I may get a job, but my chances of promotion are screwed because everyone else is a graduate. I’m very competitive – she knew exactly how to push my buttons! She was totally right, of course – so as much as I didn’t want to go to university, I bought a car and prayed for decent driving conditions to Ayr.
I remember the day I enrolled online – I got ready, filmed a video (possibly the last video I uploaded, actually) and took a photo for my student ID card since my makeup was looking okay. I logged onto the website, filled in my details, and started enrolling for classes. I clicked on the first module, started reading the description and looked at the reading list… and literally broke down.
I didn’t understand a word. What chance did I have in passing a class when I couldn’t even tell you what it was about? The reading list was in excess of 20 books – when was I supposed to have time to read all that? I had 2 other classes that semester – did I have to buy the books? Were they in the library? Surely there wouldn’t be enough copies for everyone? By the time I finished the enrolment process (which only took about 20 minutes, if that) I was absolutely terrified. I was certain I had made a mistake – I didn’t belong in university. This wasn’t for me.
Induction at the campus made me feel a little bit better. A few of my classmates from college are also on my course (although none are specialising in Radio) but I felt less alone. My first class was a Radio one, so I knew I needed to be brave – brave face makes you look confident, right? I sat down, got chatting to a couple of other girls in the class – thankfully, they were lovely! But going through the requirements of the module in class – the assessments, the amount of practical listening we had to do outwith class – I felt so overwhelmed. That feeling didn’t pass for a very long time. In fact, I think it’s only passed now that I’m on Christmas break!
During that semester, I had to submit 2 radio programmes, a literature review, 2 essays and a group essay, and I also had to do a group presentation. It doesn’t sound like much, does it? Yet it’s taken up so much of my time. I couldn’t blog. I couldn’t make videos. I’ve had to miss so many production shifts at hospital radio because I’ve had assignments to finish. Not once have I left things to the last minute. I’ve worked on assignments for days on end. And I still have no idea if they’re any good.
I’ve sat in lectures watching Trump campaign videos. Watching huge segments of documentaries whilst lecturers go off on tangents, while the students look at each other and wonder if what’s being said is relevant to the essay that’s due a few weeks later. I’ve sat there, wondering if I’m the only one in the class who doesn’t understand a word of what’s being said.
Another semester, and I’ll have a Bachelor’s degree. Of course, everyone is like “stay on another year and get your Honours degree!” But right now, out of all of those assignments, I have grades for 2 of them. I have no idea how any of my written work has done. I don’t even know if I’m referencing correctly. I don’t know if I’ll even pass my third year.
I’m not the sort of person who needs constant praise. Don’t get me wrong, I love praise, but at the same time, I don’t need it. What I need is to know where I stand. I need to know where I am in relation to the benchmark.
I wish I could say that my university experience had been more positive to date. But I’m dreading going back for my second semester. I’m too stubborn to drop out – I’ve given it 3 months so far, and I’m halfway there (and I’m definitely livin’ on a prayer). I just hate being so negative all the time – I’ve said this on Twitter before, but the workload of uni has absolutely killed my creativity.
I wish I had more time to do creative things. I see so many bloggers around me who have stuck up a middle finger to the world and have gone freelance in their chosen areas (and they’re all incredibly talented, let me tell you). Many of them are struggling on extremely tight budgets, but they’re doing what they love.
Have any of you struggled to juggle university with things that you enjoy?