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Stereotypes are a part of everyday life. As a student you often hear such gems as “all students are lazy”, or “all students are champagne socialists”.
Lots of people I know have preconceived ideas as to what other students get up to; whether it’s those studying different subjects or just people in different years.
I asked a selection of students studying different things to answer a few questions about their degree/their daily life.
I often hear a lot of things about history students that make me roll my eyes, and not just history students, but those who study the humanities in general. We don’t have a lot of contact hours in our degree, sometimes less than six a week as we get into third year; but this doesn’t mean that we don’t do any work.
This is one of the most common allegations I hear, that because we’re required to be in lectures/seminars so little, then we must do no work. The other that’s my favourite is more of a visual one; you see the girl in leggings, doc marten boots with socks and a whimsical t-shirt; oh she must be an English student! My friend gets this all the time, when in fact she studies biology. It’s something we do naturally I think – categorise people on how they look, but it is interesting to note that once we start to ask, how often we get it wrong.
Another common stereotype that I think a lot of students get is to do with their careers. This links humanities and the next subject, Fine Art, together. Often when people ask what you’re studying and you say something along the lines of “History, Art, English Literature, Religious Studies etc.” you often get a response that usually ends with the person asking if you want to be a teacher. This usually makes me want to explode with rage and I know it does to other students as well. I know people mean well then ask about your career but please try and be a little bit more creative!
Just because someone is studying Art does not mean they want/have to be an art teacher.
There is a world of possibility out there when it comes to careers, so rather than asking someone if they’re destined to “be a teacher”, why not ask what they’re planning to do? Leave the question open-ended and you’ll probably avoid the eye roll.
I spoke to Jess Kadel about other things that are often misconceived about being a Fine Art student and she said the one that irks her the most is people telling her that it “isn’t a real degree.” Now I don’t know about you, but if you’ve got any experience of studying art at any point, whether it be at GCSE level or degree level – there is a tonne of work.
It is definitely a real subject.
The art students at Lancaster all get their own studio space where they store their materials; apparently this is both an advantage and not. It means that all of your things are together and it gives you a creative space, but Jess says it’s also a pain when you live in town and get the sudden urge to be productive and have no choice but to go to campus to do work.
Moving across to the other side of campus, Lancaster University is famous for its management school, and a lot of students spend most of their time within this mythical building. Anna Meng said, when asked, that this often results in people lumping all the LUMS students together; and that people really have no idea what the difference between the degrees of Accounting & Finance, Marketing & Advertising, Business and Management actually is. She says that Marketing especially is often misunderstood.
One thing she says that other students do have right, however, is that the Management School does have excellent facilities (did you know there’s a Costa Coffee in there?!).
She also said that whilst her degree is more on the creative side of what the Management school does there is excellent career support available for all. It’s not all fun and games though, like most subjects there are parts that are deathly dull. Apparently something called Market Research isn’t a huge amount of fun because it’s all about the analysis of statistics. I don’t know about you but anything where I’d have to consistently analyse statistics would have me running for the hills. One module in history where we have to analyse Medieval wool export figures (more interesting in context!) is bad enough…
Finally, in an attempt to be inclusive, I approached a Physics and a Maths student. Now, this is worlds away from anything I would even contemplate doing and when friends discuss what they’ve been doing I just tend to smile and nod appreciatively, because I basically have no idea what they’re talking about.
Callum, the Maths student says the hardest thing about his degree is that if you miss one thing then it’s really difficult to catch up. This being one major difference between something like Maths and/or Physics to humanities. If one misses a history lecture, yeah okay it’s not good, but it’s not going to require you to do hours of catch up because some complicated theory was explained.
In terms of Physics, Seb said the common misconceptions about them are: firstly, they’re all oddballs that enjoy electrocuting things; secondly, they’re all ridiculously smart – apparently, some people in his friendship group can’t even be relied upon to count properly – and finally, that they’re extremely condescending to others who don’t study physics.
I think we’re all naturally protective of our own subjects. We don’t want anyone to try and tell us that what we’re studying is worthless/boring/useless. It’s been interesting to see what people think others conceive about their subjects – I know I held some of these stereotypes before and I guess it’s just a case of remembering that people’s passions come in all shapes and sizes; much like the actual people.
Don’t write it off just because it’s not what you’d want to do.