What the prospectus won’t tell you

I’ve heard time and time again that university are the best years of your life, but I really don’t think that’s true in all cases. Especially not mine. I mean sure, if you’ve been through twelve years of school education, with homework, uniform, parents evenings etc and go straight to uni, you don’t have much to compare it to. But I didn’t do that…

I took a gap yah

Looking back on the past four years, yes they’ve been good. I’ve made a great set of friends, travelled to different places, learnt a lot and developed as a person. But it could have been better and there are little ways that uni has let me down, ways that I’ve only realised now but looking back they’ve been there all along.

  • No support for year out students – Coming back to the UK after a year overseas was tough, I’d been back from Chile for about three weeks before uni started. After spending a year in a small, isolated, religious village where everybody knows your name, the last thing I wanted to do was to go to a huge club with hundreds of people I didn’t know, who would be drinking excessively. There were some activities that didn’t involve drinking, but they were not advertised well at all and as I “hadn’t joined in with Freshers Week”, I felt it was harder to integrate with people in halls.
  • No compulsory sports – in China, students have to take sports classes alongside their degree. I think this is great to promote healthy living amongst students and would give students the opportunity to make new friends without having to necessarily buy gym or sports society membership. If sport was compulsory, I probably would have ended up joining the Triathlon club before I did.
  • Not enough stash – I went to the SU shop today to buy a UoN vest top, but they only had XL sizes left and they said they weren’t going to order any more in. I also had problems when ordering my tri club hoody, and only got it in March, despite wanting one since October.
    I want stash
  • No grad ball – The committee decided to make our graduation ball an exclusive event, so despite 9000 students graduating this year, only 2000 tickets were available, at a pretty expensive price of £70. Consequently, I haven’t been to a single university ball in these past four years.
  • Not so anonymous marking – Departments generally use anonymous marking so no bias is used when marking students work, obviously this doesn’t apply to oral exams. But sometimes it isn’t anonymous, for example you have to state your degree course on your hand in sheet and for one of my modules I was the only Spanish and Chinese student taking it…the module convenor knew this. Then after handing in ‘anonymous’ coursework, the marker says that if I’d taken my piece to him before handing it in, I might have got a better mark – cos that’s really anonymous isn’t it!

Maybe I’m blaming other people too much as it’s easy to blame an organisation or another person when things don’t turn out the way we want them too. Sure, I could have been braver and gone out on Freshers week, joined a sports team in first year, bought my stash earlier, queued from 3am to get a grad ball ticket or gone to see my teacher but the fact remains that I didn’t. I was too shy, too nervous, too scared. And that’s effected my grades, social life and emotions.

But looking back, I don’t regret not going out on Freshers week and I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed a grad ball where 80% of the people I’d want to be there wouldn’t actually be. So do I even have the right to complain?

I just wish things were more clear and transparent from the beginning. For one module there wasn’t even a mark scheme. I’m glad I’m almost done with it!


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