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And so we enter that long-awaited period of post-dissertation freedom! Well, almost. Chances are most students still have a couple of essays and exams looming in the next few weeks, no matter how much you tell yourself “I deserve a break” after completing those monstrous ten-thousand words with at least 24 hours to spare before the deadline. Now on the brink of completing my final year at Lancaster, and joining the masses in the search for graduate work and bargain holidays, I’ve found myself asking: do I still feel the same way about my degree subject as I did as a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed fresher, all those terms ago?
From whispered chats during lectures over the past three years it would seem that, by the end of it all, everybody absolutely hates their degree. It seems there is simply no end to essays, projects, presentations, exams – which always seem to be due in during the same week – and even so-called ‘holidays’ are often consumed with revision, writing, or jobs to cover term-time spending. On top of it all, the media seem intent on telling us that our degrees are increasingly worthless as unemployment rises, high grades become supposedly ‘easier’ to get, and recession strikes once again.
However, in spite of all the negativity surrounding my university degree, and the fact that my previous enjoyment of reading was thwarted by my being forced to read endless theory books and anthologies, somehow I’ve managed to cling onto some love for my subject; I am still intrigued by different theories and philosophies, and still get a bit excited when my essay finally starts to make sense.
While I remember one of my teacher’s at college encouragingly (or, perhaps, discouragingly) telling us that people rarely go on to work in the area they studied at university, I can’t imagine doing something that doesn’t involve aspects of my degree; after all, this is something that I felt I could do well in and be passionate about every day for three years. Although I may currently feel resentful towards my end-of-year workload, I realise now that I wouldn’t have been able to complete my degree had I not continued to enjoy it. I have friends that share the same sentiment, but also those that have ended up hating their degree (for example, a friend who studied law for four years, convinced that he wanted to be a barrister, is now a professional rower), and some that have quit just weeks before their final exams.
While this demonstrates that not everybody will still enjoy their degree by its end, it also shows that it is not the end of the world if this happens. Regardless of how you feel as you emerge from that last ever lecture, your degree is something that you’ve worked hard to achieve and that you should be proud of – even if it doesn’t feel like it when you’re slumped, crying, over a desk in the Great Hall, just minutes into that three-hour exam. Enjoy!