Sunday, 5 October 2014

Giant Science Postgrad Tribe

During my undergrad there were people on my course and in my uni who were there because of family/societal expectation. What do you do after school? Well if you can get a degree, you pick something, and just get it. People don't necessarily choose the right subject at this age, with a portion of students having selected their subject purely because they had to. It was perhaps the class they were best at in school. As a result, undergraduate classes often have several members who are not especially enthusiastic about being there, and education is more of a tick box exercise. These are
often the people who pay little attention to course material or deadlines, and don't understand why anyone would bother to ask copious questions that make getting through the lessons take longer, when they just want to get out and hit the pub.

This reticence has an unavoidable influence on class dynamics. While I have plenty of time for those who want to draw on the support of their peers, my patience doesn't last long for fellow students who aren't meeting the demands of their course through indifference or lack of effort.*

At postgraduate level on the other hand, most - if not all - students have quite specifically chosen and slogged to be on that course, and have an end goal in sight that directly relates to their postgraduate education. This means that for the first time I'm in a class of peers who all actually care about their subject. Both educationally and monetarily they can't afford to drift along (although I'm sure there will always be some who do). Having always been the knuckle-down student, I'm now just another hard-working excitable palaeo-person.

Do I feel a loss of identity? Maybe a little, but mostly it's just refreshing and exciting to feel surrounded by others who, despite coming from wildly differing backgrounds and approaches, all appreciate the same things and want to do more than just scrape by.

Humans are a tribal animal, I guess I've finally found mine.

*Wouldn't it be better if more students were encouraged to take a few years out and discover their underlying passions, rather than using up funding and time on a degree they may discover isn't really the right one for them further down the line? As a mature student, I see now what a huge mistake it would have been if I had accepted any of the degree programmes I was offered after school.

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