On Monday I head back to London, ready to start my second and final term of University for third year and forever. I’ve had a lovely long break off since early December and because I opted for modules without written exams I didn’t have to go back at the beginning of January like many others. For the purpose of this post I’ll be honest, in second year I was in Uni three days a week and this year I have only been in two days a week. I can’t exactly remember my timetable for first year but I’m pretty sure it was three days too.
Even in my third year of study I am still sometimes met with a negative response when people ask a certain question. ‘How many hours are you in University then?’That, as a question is fine, but the response after mine is something which is left to be desired – the frequent response being ‘You’re a ‘part-time student’’, or something along the same lines. I’m not complaining that I am in three or two days a week, I’m simply answering a question. Being in two days a week, for the purpose of realism, means I am in lectures eight hours a week as I have two lectures on each day which are both two hours long.
I’m still NOT a ‘part-time student’.
My Course Breakdown:
Over the course of my three years of study how I was assessed changed year to year. In my first year 34% of my assessments were written examinations, 8% practical assessments and 58% coursework. In my second year, 10% were written examinations, 11% practical assessments and 79% coursework and this year, 14% is practical assessment and 86% coursework. I started off having more written examinations and now I have none as I am assessed mainly through coursework.
I am studying for a BA in English so I can’t comment on what other students, who are undertaking BSc degrees experience. Even then I won’t pretend to know all about BA degrees as I know some degrees are more lecture intensive. I’m speaking just from my own experience. My first year was worth 10%, second year was worth 30% and this year, my final year is worth 60% of my final degree grade. I’m in University the least number of hours than my two previous years.
I’m on a full-time university degree course, I pay £9,250 a year for my degree.
I used to sit back and just ignore the comments in my first year, giving people the benefit of the doubt as they may not know how University works. Two years on, I’m bored of the comments and fed up with the stereotypes associated with degrees with fewer contact hours. I also think it’s unfair on students who are ‘part-time’ for whatever reason, that is not something to be ashamed of.
I’m still NOT a part-time student, so why am I called one?
My Actual Workload:
My contact hours do not reflect my workload outside of class which is what people seem to forget. In my final year, my University gives us the option of doing a Major Project, either a Dissertation or a Creative Writing Project. I chose to do the Creative Writing Project. Since the beginning of third year I have been working on this project, as it an ongoing piece of work. Most nights throughout the week I am working on this project, it’s not finished, it’s not even close – yet I’ve been working on it since September!
I spent nearly two weeks last term working on one part of one assignment, I sat painting on my kitchen floor for hours at a time, I then had to write an essay too and then a presentation speech. At the same time, I had two other assignments I needed to complete but I’m not telling you this for a pity party, I knew University would be intense and I’m not complaining about the workload. I also don’t want this to be taken as a rant at a comment which could be considered to be a joke, that may be the case but to make it continuously is undermining to both myself and students who are classified as ‘part-time’.
Maybe people would begin to understand if I started documenting the exact number of hours I spend working on assignments outside of University, from the initial research to actually sitting down and writing. I work very hard on all of my assignments, I’m reading multiple books every week, I put a lot of hours in but I’ll hold my hands up and be honest when I say I probably don’t put in enough for some assignments.
I’m not a perfect student, I’m not saying that at all, I want people to realise that University doesn’t just come down to the hours I actually spend in lectures. I could be in a lecture for two hours, not understand the content and have to go home and go through the entire two-hour lecture again. I can’t count the number of times I’ve broken down or been ill through stress trying to manage my work commitments.
Please don’t then turn around and say to me how much time I must have off because I’m ‘barely’ in University.
Is It Just Me?
I’m not the only one who has received these comments either!
Paige from paigesummerx.wordpress.com, spoke to me about her degree, “I studied Journalism for three years and had 9 hours contact time a week. I did have a couple extra hours in my final year for my dissertation too. Compared to my friends I seemed to be barely in uni. A couple did comment that 9 hours didn’t seem very much.”
Ellie from hatterell.com, spoke to me about her degree too, “I’m in my second year of studying for an English Literature BA, I have 8 contact hours spread over 3 days. Although I do have very few contact hours, I have an additional 25-30 hours of reading to do each week. I often get comments from people studying other courses, such as ‘well I have 25 hours of classes, so you have more free time than me.’ Comments like this bug me as I think degree workloads should be treated equally – if you don’t study a subject, you don’t know the ins and outs of it, so please don’t judge.”
Chloe from tintsofautumn.blogspot.com also joined the conversation, “I studied a BA Hons Journalism degree and in my final year I commuted over an hour and a half to uni. My days reduced down to 2 days a week, which for me was more convenient because I didn’t have to commute for just one lesson. People didn’t get it, they wouldn’t take my degree seriously because I was ‘only’ doing 2 days a week and working my part time job more. They saw what I did as almost an easy, cop out degree.”
A Final Word:
So, this is a message to everyone who has referred to someone as a ‘part-time student’ because their degree is scheduled to have low contact hours. You do not see the hours we do not count, outside of actual lectures, you do not see the reading we do and the time we spend working on our assignments, like me over my Christmas holidays and you do not see the balance struggle to get work done and maintain a relationship with the outside world. My degree is still a degree, regardless of contact hours. My degree is no less intellectual than another degree with more contact hours.
A degree is a degree. Don’t undermine it by calling someone a ‘part-time student’ and implying that that in itself is a negative thing. We all work hard, in and out of class.
“I’m In Uni Two Days A Week But I’m NOT A Part-Time Student”
Let’s start being proud of each other for doing a degree in the first place instead of bringing people down.