Yesterday I submitted my last ever piece of undergraduate work and finished my degree.
All done. Three years that seemed to slip by in a flash. I’m no longer a student.
It all feels a bit surreal to be honest, it doesn’t feel real. I’ve spent so long anticipating this point and it doesn’t really feel like I’m there yet. But I am.
Despite the £40k+ debt, I remain decidedly happy with my choice to go to university. I’ve learnt so much – not just about the environment and the media industry like I’d expected from a degree titled “Environment and Media Studies” – but about the world. I have learnt so much other stuff along the way which I hadn’t anticipated, extra doses of politics, history and social science that have made me a more well-rounded person, opened my eyes and my mind, and helped me better understand my position in this crazy place we call Earth.
If that sounds a bit philosophical, it’s because it is. You see, I think the privatisation and commodification of higher education has led us to think of a degree simply as the means to an end, with the end being a well-paid job. That is important, don’t get me wrong. I definitely want to use my degree for my career. But education is not only valuable as an economic investment, it’s also about learning to think critically, to research, to know how ideas and knowledge evolve, and to gain a better understanding of society in a ‘general knowledge’ capacity.
I don’t know my grade yet. I have my graduation ceremony at the end of July, but hopefully I’ll know before then. The grades I already have mean I won’t get below a 2.1, but I’m really hoping for a 1st. We’ll see.
I am particularly pleased with my dissertation. Even if it was a stubborn beast to write, I’m proud with the final result. Worth all the stress and tears. I did a textual analysis of newspaper articles covering sustainable development and concluded that it was framed in eight distinct ways, variously prioritising workers rights, animal welfare, economic growth and flashy eco-house designs. They pushed and pulled the concept in many directions, but none of them pushed it out of the realm of consumer capitalism governed by concentrated political elites. I’m reminded of this brilliant Chomsky quote…
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”
– Noam Chomsky
Anyway. So, I’m no longer a student. I want to get a graduate position as soon as possible, and I can’t wait to start putting my academic knowledge to professional use. This brings me to another piece of exciting news I have. I recently applied for a 6-month paid internship with Global Justice Now, an amazing organisation working on global inequality. The exciting news is they’ve invited me for an interview! Next Wednesday. Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for me, because this is literally perfect for me. If you’ve read much of this blog you’ll know I’m driven by my vision of a just, fair and sustainable world where we share the resources we have so that everyone has enough, without destroying the planet we all depend on. I know that’s a tall order, but I’m not content to be apathetic and dismiss this as idealism – because I think really it’s the only sane option we have. I want to spend my life doing all I can to make this a reality, and working with Global Justice Now would be a perfect way to start.
The other good news is now I’m done studying, I should have more time to write on this blog. There’s loads of article ideas swimming around my head and now they have a chance to come out and see the light of day. Watch this space!