UPDATE: This article appeared in The Age on the 17th of August 2010. It can be viewed online here.
There’s no one more conceited than a university student, and I should know because I am one.
We don’t need full-time jobs, we don’t need to move out of home and we don’t need to wake up before midday â€” because we’re being educated, for the benefit of the nation.
Yes, stand aside Batman, spare us your policies politicians, because a wave of educated, pseudo intellectuals is here to solve the problems of the country with detailed analysis of Foucault and extensive knowledge of algorithms.
But seriously uni kids, who do you think you’re fooling? Sure, we may trick our parents into letting us stay at home, taking up that room that has just the right dimensions for a nice home office. We may even fool the government into providing us with money, because it’s so hard to hold down a part-time job and attend 12 hours of university a week.
But we can’t fool ourselves, and one day the time will come when our laziness will be revealed and Australia will collapse under it’s own procrastination, leaving nothing behind but a 2000-word synopsis of the existential themes of Kafka.
That’s right people, the answers to the problems of future Australia â€” climate change, population density and human rights â€” cannot be found on Facebook.
“Of course,” you scoff, “anyone with half a post-grad would be able to figure that out!” Then tell me why about 80 per cent of laptops in any given lecture are switched to the snaps from what’s-his-face’s party at the weekend.
Blame the rise in technology, if you will; I blame the common characteristic of laziness, and when it comes to university students, we’re the masters.
architecture or aviation, the catch cry of every uni student is, “I just want to pass!” It appears every degree these days comes with a minor in sloth and a major in screwing around.
Not only do university students do absolutely nothing, but we actually pay through the nose for it.
Thousands of dollars a semester go to wagging classes, lectures spent trawling Twitter and, the old favourite, frantically completing assignments at 3am the night before, half-arsed and half-finished, to gain just enough marks for a pass.
I guess that’s the beauty of HECS, out of sight, out of mind. Just how many uni students do you reckon would rock up if they had to front the $40 a tute?
But here’s a news flash for you guys. That assignment you just passed? You didn’t “have” to do it.
You don’t “have” to study and you don’t “have” to go to that lecture tomorrow.
I know, after the days of being dragged out of warm beds at 7.30am to attend school, it’s hard to believe â€” but university is not compulsory.
You’ve chosen to do it. You’re paying a lot of money for it, so why not put in a bit of effort?
I know a lot of students are trying to scrape by in degrees because they see it as little more than a checkbox on an employer’s list.
But having a journalism degree doesn’t make you a journalist. Having an engineering degree doesn’t make you an engineer and having an arts degree, contrary to popular belief, does not make you a philosopher.
Even if this were the case, if you’re not enjoying your degree in geospatial design, you probably won’t like a job in it either. So what are you even doing there?
Undoubtedly a large part of the problem is that you’re seen as slacking off if you don’t pursue an esteemed degree.
Kids are churned out of high school and dumped into degrees they have no idea about, just for the sake of being tertiary educated.
But deciding what career you want to do at 17 is pretty daunting, especially when you have little more than a single paragraph synopsis in the VTAC guide to base your judgment on.
There’s nothing wrong with taking some time â€” not the vodka-fuelled gap year of the Contiki crew â€” but some serious time to figure out what you actually want to do.
The truth is, slacking off is slacking off. And if you do it outside of university it’s going to work out a whole lot cheaper than Facebook stalking at $40 a pop.