So, I'm entering into the final few weeks of University. The next few weeks are going to be a defining moment in my life, or so I am constantly reminded. I will be disappointed with anything less than a 2:1, but I am no way guaranteed such a grade.
I am not claiming to be superior to the people around me, but I do feel frustrated in my current position. In psychology I have been given assignments which have stretched me academically, that have caused me to think outside the box, and challenged the way in which I currently think. I like psychology, but there are only a few areas within it that interest me. Business, on the other hand, has been pretty much the opposite. Instead of being given stimulation in lectures, I have been forced to sit through dull and repetitive lectures. Now, business is not the most exciting subject, but I strongly believe that lectures should be a one-way diffusion of information, and seminars for discussion. Lectures at Uni here have been "activity based" - and with the massive range of abilities present, half of the class are sitting around with nothing to do whilst the lower end of the range are being hand-held by the lecturer through their tasks.
Now, many people have said to be "Come on Andrew, dig in, you've only got a few weeks left until the end." Sure, I know that this degree is going to be very important, it is very important to me. However, should I ever have to turn up to an interview and rely on this degree to get me a job ahead of another graduate, or ahead of anyone, I don't think I can sit their and hold this degree up as being worth of the paper its written on.
This may not be the case for a number of people for whom the degree has taken three years of hard work, but the sad fact that I face is that the majority of people who are doing ok this year, have been doing 'ok' for the last three years. They've not particularly raised their game, and have been helped through it constantly by their lecturers. Other people I know, who are capable of getting great grades have become de-motivated by the sheer volume of work; work which lacks any quality or depth.
Warning bells first sounded for me in the first year, when I was in a group with 4 foreign students to do a presentation. They'd asked me to join their group as they were having trouble with English, so I duly obliged. Having written most of the presentation myself (albeit in their presence) the day came round to present it. Whilst we got through the presentation unscathed (they were reading the slides,) when it came to question and answers, their lack of understanding of both English and the subject meant the group was terrible. I had to step in to answer all of the questions put to us, and felt embarrassed on the part of the girls given their obvious inadequacies. The big surprise for me was that we were able to come out of that presentation with a 2:1 - whereas a group made up of 5 of my English friends only just scraped a 2:2.
I don't want to assume from this that there is prejudice in the University system, but the marks for the presentations weren't awarded in conjunction with the marking scheme. The same was true of a third year finance project. We were all encouraged to get our data off the FAME site, and to keep data consistent by only getting data off the one site, as ratio and formulae calculations differed between sites. Despite the fact I had completed the project, one of the comments on my paper was "Why does your data only go up to 2005?" The data on the FAME site only went up to 2005, and was not changed until past when I received the assignment back.
Simple misunderstandings have disillusioned me with the university's system. Business Lecturers are simple affairs, with lecturers spending time with individuals and helping them with simple skills (such as maths in finance) in order to complete activities. However, the assignments are mammoth tasks - involving hours and hours of menial work in order to answer simple speculative questions that often have no sound basis on market conditions (as few people are capable of understanding market growth/dynamics).
It's incredibly disheartening to be told that the degree is worthless, and I blocked it out before. However, nearing completion of my degree, I am beginning to realise its worthlessness runs deeper than the institution than will grant it. Studying at the institution for the last three years has made me realise just what standard the University abides by. I could not sit down next to a student from another University and be confident that I was better qualified, even if I had a first and they had a pass. What a frame of mind to be in before my final push for my final classification.