Dear Student-Me

Friday, 13 January 2017

Since my father died at the beginning of November last year and with my job becoming ever more soul-destroying (yes, dear reader, blogging and making videos is not my job), I have been doing a lot of soul-searching. Where did it all go wrong? To answer that question, I would have to answer, when was it ever right? I did everything that I was supposed to do: I listened to my teachers, I studied, I got good grades, I went to university and left with a 2:1 Joint Honours Bachelors of Arts Degree. And yet, I've been working in a supermarket for the past 6 years with a degree in my pocket that I feel is worthless and a shocking £20k amount worth of debt. 

There have been many a night where I ask myself what could I do with my degree since my high school marketed my subjects are the most 'employable' as they 'open doors'. The only door that I feel was opened to me was my colleague entrance because I can read English (hardly a talent because it's my native language and even now that seems like a debatable requirement). So what would I tell my 18-year-old self before (and during) what were supposed to be the 'greatest years of my life'? 

I know that I've touched on my time at univeristy previously in this post so it's a little round-up and a few new points..

Dear Kazzie,


Well, it's been six and a half years since you graduated and that degree has been put to zero use. Yay. Congratulations. You graduated and the next day you sent off that application for that 'stop-gap' job until you figured out what you wanted to do with your life. Let's just agree for the moment that uni was the biggest waste of time and money - here's what you could have done differently...


STUDY WHAT YOU WANT TO STUDY

You did that degree because it was a safe course. You knew that you could do it. You knew that it would challenge you a little but you would succeed anyway. Did you learn anything new? Did you learn a new skill? 

Nope.

That's because the conveners were more interested in the Single Honours students than those that were joint because they were the 'dedicated' ones. That was warning number one that was not the course for you. 

Oh the amount of times that I wish I had taken that Criminology Elective module. Maybe that would have inspired me and captured my attention. I spent years watching shows like Cold Case, FBI Files, Forensic Detectives and such. Why didn't I take that one? Oh yeah, you wanted to do the one that the BFF was doing so you wouldn't be alone in the lecture hall. Idiot!

And don't even get me started on the careers advice. Your career adviser met with you a grand total of once and he was the technical engineer for the theatre. You had no interest whatsoever in that. Granted, now, you're the lighting designer and operative for the choral society, but back then, no-one was even offering that opportunity to you.

Wrong subject. Do what you want to do. The most fun moment was when you got to write your own essay question in Language and the Media. Who wouldn't want to write an essay about war discourses in Stargate SG-1 and Battlestar Galactica? That was literally my shining glory moment in all of those three years. 

That degree, that oh-so-employable-degree was not worth three years and it certainly wasn't worth getting into debt over. 



LEARN THE BUS TIMETABLE PAST 6PM


Doors may have been opened had you made yourself available for after uni activities, like that performance you wanted to do but you had to get home the moment classes ended. 

Honest,, I went straight home after all of my classes ended. I was commuting to university and I just wanted to get home because I felt like it was expected of me. I felt like I had to be home as soon as my school day ended. That wasn't true at all.

Had I learnt what the bus timetable was and that buses did run beyond 6pm, I would have been able to stay for those rehearsals and maybe have made a good impression on the choreographer or director that I could get a foot in the door for something awesome. Instead I looked like the biggest flake. Dude, buses went to 10:30pm. That would've been awesome. 

Also, bus cards/travel cards will help on the savings. You're welcome. 



WHEN SOCIALISING COMES A KNOCKING, STUDENT NIGHTS

Ah, student nights. The bane of every city resident's life because of all of the drunken students parading (and sometimes pukiing) around the city, singing off-ley and talking very, very, very loudly. Good times. Student nights are great. Double vodkas for the price of normal vodkas? Where do I sign? 

And hey, buy in rounds. If you buy a round and you're out with several friends, then you won't have to get up again for x turns. Just don't be that one that gets the most expensive drink. Or, alternatively, cocktail jugs and just create a kitty. Everyone puts a fiver in and see how far that gets you. Again, don't be that one that takes more than their fair share. 

Additionally, you don't have to get blocked to enjoy the social scene at university. Casual drinks, going out for one pint is perfectly acceptable or even taking a soft drink. People may tease you for being tee-total but they won't care come the morning. 



STUDENT DISCOUNT CARDS

Seriously. Best. Thing. Ever. A lot of stores over between 10 to 20% discounts for students. All you have to do is have a valid student I.D. and you're set. I abused my discount card at HMV for DVDs and CDs. Probably not the best thing to be buying but this was back in the day before Netflix and streaming was actually a thing. God, I sound old. 

At the time I didn't know that clothing stores offered the same discounts, sometimes better discounts. You need clothes to go to class, right? So why not get some savings, but just don't spend your loan installment on it. Big no-no. Three words: sales + student discount = a less guilty conscience. 



KNOW YOUR OPTIONS 

Do some research. I had no clue what was available in terms of financial aid when I went to university. The only thing that I did was fill in the student loan form that high school handed me. I had no idea what I was entering into because everyone was filling it in and I just assumed that it was the only option. Sheep, I is one. (This is probably a bad moment to mention that my degree has 'English' in the title). This was going to be my first foray into savings and loans and bank accounts and actually having a debit card to pay for books. I was being entrusted with money and being responsible with money so that I could live. I needed better habits than spending all my money on drink, clothes, DVDs and books - see the above points for saving-ish tips.

I had no idea that places like Earnest exist. They help students to refinance student loans and offer advice on how to apply for financial aid with regard to student loans, grants and scholarships. Who wouldn't help with figuring this kind of stuff out? It is overwhelming and I'm easily overwhelmed. I'm useless with technical jargon or jargon of any description. But Earnest help its users to understand the whole process without being overbearing or overtechnical about it. . This is available in the US, however. I live and went to school in the UK but I'm sure a little research will uncover a company just like this for UK students and others abroad. 

I was terrified of the financial burden that university would be which was why I stayed at home and commuted instead of researching the cost of dorms/halls. Earnest will help alleviate some of that terror. Also, thank god for mum. That's all I can say.


University was a lot of fun . . . most of the time. It was a time overshadowed by anxiety, having intense and often forced relationships with people in your seminar class over the course of 12 weeks, and early mornings to get to class at 9am. Despite all of time, I wish I had learnt these lessons sooner. Perhaps then, I wouldn't be in this soul-destroying job. Then again, I may still be in it. Who knows? Either well, hereby ends this letter to my younger self.

You did well, kid. Just don't do it again, haha.


1 comment:

  1. I only just stumbled over this post and I just wanted to say that I really liked it. It definitely hit close to home.
    I spent the last 5 years doing something that I did not like because I thought it was expected of me and that it would just get better with time, but I was so miserable that I took a whole year off just to figure out what to do with my life. I am so glad that I did though even though I regret wasting 5 years of my life because now I have started a new BA and I know that even though it will take me another 4-5 years until I can properly earn money I am now on the right path for me. I am fortunate enough that we only have to pay about 300€ per semester (so around 600€ every year) for uni, since if I had to pay as much as in the UK or US I surely couldn't have done it.

    TLDR: this post really resonated with me and I am so glad that you wrote it because I feel like it can help someone else too. :)
    Also it is not too late to maybe do something new. If you ever need to talk let me know. <3

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