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…More Like a New Novel Altogether

It’s been 10 days since my university life reached its near-end (my official graduation ceremony isn’t until the end of August – talk about prolonging the final hurrah); having received my unit grades and degree classification, I am now completely absolved of UCL-related worries, be it in terms of marks, modules or memorising Gricean maxims.

I can honestly say that I am unbelievably excited about what comes next. My time at university has afforded me the opportunity to meet and befriend some wonderful people, whilst instilling in me the brisk walking pace of a London resident, a sense of pride whenever UCL appears in a league table’s top 10, and the ability to pull an all-nighter without the assistance of Red Bull or nicotine (coffee and rock music work far better).

But, never having been one to suffer ‘Peter Pan syndrome’, I’m still looking forward to finally ‘growing up’. Whether it’s entering the working world or embarking upon postgraduate study, I am genuinely fascinated by the paths my fellow graduands plan to take.

Admitting that I’m not sad to be leaving uni doesn’t mean that I’ve not enjoyed my time here; it simply means that I’m looking forward to the next part too. I felt exactly the same when I left school and college – eager to start the next adventure. Bring it on!

Results Angst

When it came to receiving my results last Monday, I strategically opted to go in two hours late, safe in the knowledge that most of my coursemates would have been unable to bear the anticipation any longer. The thing about academic grades is that EVERYONE wants to share and compare (whether you’ve burst into victory chant or averted your tearful gaze floorwards) – that’s brilliant for those happy to divulge, but it’s just not me. I’d much rather sneak off into a quiet corner to call my parents than enthuse about how clever we all are whilst also trying to console the person who’s marks reflect how often they were stoned during exam season. For those who want that, I hope they enjoy the high fives and heartfelt hugs, but I can’t say that the pressure to reveal your scores to classmates is included on my list of things I’ll miss about student life.

The time at which degree classifications are revealed is at the course administrators’ disposal, meaning that students from other disciplines are probably going to be drinking – either in celebration or commiseration – on a different date to you. Those from other institutions are likely to be months behind/ahead, leading to inter-university piss-ups being delayed until sometime in July, by which time the “no more term papers!” buzz is likely to have degenerated into incessant thoughts of “I should really get a job”, an infuriating hum which is impossible to ignore, much like a mosquito trapped in your bedroom at night.

So this poses something of a dilemma: do you suck it up and answer the “What d’you get?”s of your coursemates so that you have people to go out with upon receiving your results, or do you wait out the weeks until others are in a position to join you in degree-culminating intoxication?

I guess it depends on what sort of person you are – if you can teeth-grittingly engage in the embraces that follow every “How did you do?” from a classmate then not only do you have people to immediately head to the pub with, you’ll likely have enough confidence to get your results tattooed somewhere highly visible by the end of the evening, saving you from ever having to answer another question probing your academic prowess. Contrastingly, if you’re on my side of the fence, the day will go something like this: you’ll hide out for the morning until you can process your results alone, you’ll plan an almighty party for when everyone else has received their classifications, and use the evening to celebrate the end of your degree in the most outrageous way possible – by spending 4 hours in a cinnamon-scented bath.

A Parting Message

This article led to my true realisation of what the end of university meant. As well as her article being utterly heartfelt and far more personal that I could ever hope mine to be, I think Marina’s piece is utterly devastating – and her untimely death means that her message is all the more impressionable.

I can’t replicate Marina’s sentiment or desire to impress an optimistic message on the world, I can only direct you to her own writing and suggest that you consider what she says. Because, if you’re in the class of 2012 – be that graduating secondary school, sixth form or university – Marina’s message is what really matters. Leaving somewhere doesn’t mean losing everything we learnt and felt along the way, it doesn’t mean deliberating over the “what if”s, and it certainly doesn’t mean that the best years of our lives have passed. As much as we’ll miss the sense of belonging which first seduced us at enrolment, we should be just as impassioned by the thought of our futures – whatever they may hold – because there’s an abundance of good times yet to come.

In a world of sensational journalism and pessimistic tendencies, it becomes far too easy to concentrate on what is wrong in our individual lives. My suggestion today (though I hope it lasts more than a day) is to take a leaf out of Marina’s book: believe that the future is positive, that the world is a good place and, above all, believe that you can make a worthwhile impact.

Life isn’t about deliberating over our past regrets; it’s about enjoying every moment of the here and now. We’re here, unlike Marina Keegan, and that means we can make an impression. Let’s make it a good one, Class of 2012.

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