Friday, 24 July 2009


About time I wrote an update. Exactly one week ago today, I graduated from university.

To be honest, I was completely underwhelmed by the experience, and wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. Most of the way through university, I pretty much knew what grade I would end up with: it seemed that if I tried really hard on a piece of work, I'd get a 2.1 grade, and if I didn't try too much, I'd also get a 2.1 grade. On occasion I produced work that was of a First grade, but because of averages, for every unit I did, I got a solid 2.1. So I wasn't surprised with my final grade. Part of me is a little disappointed, though. Perhaps I could have tried really hard...

Typically for Norwich weather, it was a grey day. Luckily, though, the rain held off until the journey home. I felt pretty ridiculous in my gown. And the gown was a horrible colour: navy blue and orangey-pink. Very disappointed that it wasn't black.

The hall was also underwhelming. It was the exam hall, so full of pleasant memories, and it was underground. It used to be an old gym. There was a big blue curtain to act as a backdrop. Nothing like the grand old halls or cathedrals that many other universities use to hold their graduation ceremonies. A shame.

I hated going up on stage to get my degree. All I was focusing on was not tripping over.

My partner thinks that I don't value my achievement as much as I should. I think that's true. It just seems to me that so many people have degrees these days, and they don't play as big a role in getting a job as I had previously expected. I didn't particularly enjoy my time at university. I wish I could do it over, better. I'm mostly relieved that it is all over now.

The aspect I most miss is my creative writing seminars. The group I was in for my final-year was brilliant: a good bunch of people, and a great tutor. I really enjoyed the work-shopping structure.

Previously, I thought that the course hadn't really done much to improve my writing. We weren't 'taught' as such, more 'guided', or self-taught through discussion with each other. However, I recently looked back at some of my first-year work. Compared with the last piece of creative writing I submitted (my dissertation), it was shockingly bad! So, on reflection, I have improved. However, I don't believe it was all down to the course content/structure, but also due to the simple fact that I was constantly practicing my writing skills. Writing is like a muscle, and the more you exercise it, the stronger you work will become.

As for the literature side of the course... I felt slightly mislead. Before I started university, I was lead to believe that there was a lot of choice about what you got to study, and what you got to write about. I had in my head all these exciting ideas about writing essays on 'Gormenghast' or Angela Carter. None of that ever came about because, really, my unit choices were very restricted. Out of all the units I had to do, I think I only really wanted to do about a quarter of them. And the reading load was completely unrealistic, at least for me. I'm a slow reader, and there was no way I was ever going to get through four books a week, excluding secondary reading.

Going to university definitely had value. I enjoyed part of it. I guess it just wasn't what I had expected. Something must have gone right though, because I'm still itching to do a Masters degree...!


  1. Well, congrats on your degree, no matter how underwhelming. It really is an accomplishment. I am two objectives away from graduation myself, and I'm actually very excited. My degree is in IT (yes, I should have pursued a degree in writing, but let's not go there), but getting the degree won't do alot for me in my day job. What it does accomplish however is this: My kids get to see their dad graduating from college, never giving up no matter that it took 20 years. I get to say I completed a really long road and never gave up.

    So while you might feel a bit underwhelmed at the moment, take this opportunity to really pat yourself on the back. It really is a worthwhile accomplishment, no matter the reason you got it for. Good job!

  2. Hello Sophie, sorry to hear you didn't enjoy graduation. I felt exactly the same beforehand and was dreading the whole thing, but I actually ended up really enjoying the day for no apparent reason. I think maybe part of it was that I was glad to have finished but it really seemed to be like a rite of passage to me...I sort of saw it as the beginning of a new stage in my life and a stage that I'm quite looking forward to. You get to leave the frustrating mark schemes and hideous amounts of reading behind and hopefully achieve things that you want to achieve rather than jumping through hoops and never getting anywhere.

    So, huge congratulations for everything you've done over the past three years, but even more than that well done for reaching this exciting time in life where anything is possible and good luck for following your dreams no matter how difficult it might be to do so!

  3. Whether you enjoyed it or not, I'm certain that you'll look back fondly on it, and the achievement -- and it is a good achievement -- is something worthwhile that can't be taken from you. I have every confidence that bigger and better achievements lay ahead for you, Sophie. Your graduation is a beginning, not an end.


  4. Eric, congratulations to you!

    Thanks to all of you for your encouragment. I'm sure I will look back at graduation and feel proud, just as I will look back at my time at university fondly - as with memories of a broken relationship, after a while all you remember are the good parts...

    Emily, I read your post about graduation and I'm glad you enjoyed it so much! I guess I'm just a bit of a misanthropic pessimist at times!

    And Bob, it feels more like an end than a beginning at the moment, simply because I haven't really started much else since. But I understand where you are coming from! It will be interesting to look back at this post in a years time. I wonder where I'll be...


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