Here’s how it feels, step by step, to finish university:
The beginning of the end is, undoubtedly, the final lecture. You will go into the final – occasionally even the penultimate – lectures of certain modules with an air of childish giddiness about you, that of a schoolchild in the last week before summer. My final ever university lecture came on a bleak Thursday morning at quarter past nine. Or was it ten? I was hung-over and didn’t register the concluding nature of the occasion. It wasn’t until I was sat on my housemate’s bed later that day complaining about my eyes feeling sore that it sunk in, but the delay matters not. It is over.
The rush of joy, and drinking, that ensues after lectures finish for good dies almost immediately in the face of unfinished assignments and unprepared exams. Those of you in either in or about to go in to second or third year will be thinking something along the lines of ‘yea, yea, I didn’t revise much more for my university exams than I did at A-level’. But at the closing of the final year even the most lackadaisical of students can be dragged in to revision furore.
Once the exams are done with, true giddiness ensues as you return to drinking with the volume and regularity of a fresher on his nineteenth birthday. Of course, you are now in your twenties and handle this abuse rather differently with notable more awkward goodbye hugs, even though you’ll still be living together for another week or more.
By the time you’ve sobered up, you’re back in the parental nest looking to seedier and seedier corners of the internet to find jobs remotely related to your field of interest and applying to them all. You have a bit of initial interest and are upbeat, but soon realise that most employers wait until results are out before choosing who to hire. You wait.
An envelope arrives addressed to you but at your mother’s house, an oddity in itself. This contains the key to your professional life. Of course, you already know your results, you saw online that you got Upper Second Class Honours – 2.1 to most of us – and are chuffed beyond belief. However, some naive part of you hoped that upon seeing in writing that you had in fact achieved a degree and reached the top of the (relevant) academic ladder, there would be some form of fanfare and a cheque for a hundred grand a year for the rest of your existence. There is not. It’s actually pretty difficult to find the piece of paper that actually confirms you have a qualification for your three years of effort and alcoholism.
You continue applying for every job under the sun and tell all your potential employers of your overwhelming success only to find that your 2.1 is met with a resounding “meh”. You look at flats in your city of choice and consider bar work as a temporary solution to paying the rent. Somewhere inside you, you know it may not be so temporary.
Why, oh why did I take philosophy?