Confession: I am a bad student.
No, it’s not that I didn’t do my homework, that’s been done for a few days. I’m working my way through readings — including some additional books — highlighting and taking notes as I go. Yes, I make go to all of my classes and, no, I would never skip a 9 am lecture just because it was too early.
Why am I a bad student then?
I don’t do and, in a few cases refuse to do, the typical student-y things. Walking past the endless queues of first and second years waiting to get into clubs leaves me uncomfortable. They’ll
enjoy have a proper student night out, while I’ll be at home with a cup of mint tea, reading a book in bed. They may be judging me, mistaking me for a twenty-something Bristol resident as opposed to their peer.
In the student universe, there are several unspoken rules that govern how we think, feel and act. It’s commonly agreed that mornings always come to early, that midnight is a sacred time for facebook and that skipping class after a crazy night out is okay. The consensus says that vegetables are too expensive, pasta with sauce is a meal and that coffee isn’t something to spend money on, but rather a tool to fuel cram sessions. All students must be permanently sans money, apathetic and perfectly content to spend Sunday at home watching television.
All students except for me.
After coming back from my year abroad, the ways that I don’t fit into the typical student mold are more pronounced. Sometimes I support these stereotypes that I don’t agree with simply because they are so ingrained into our cultural notion of studentdom that I feel bad for breaking away. When a housemate with a 9 am lecture wanders blearily into the kitchen, complaining about mornings, I laugh and agree. I laugh and agree while giving a careful stir to my pumpkin oatmeal, having already done some yoga and read the headlines that morning. It’s the weakest form of agreement.
I’m sick of the stereotype of students. We need to broaden it.
Yes, students can enjoy sleeping late and may prefer to spend their Sundays watching television; however these traits aren’t student characteristics, but personalities that accompany people beyond their time at university. Students are as diverse as any other group, except for the fact that the vast majority are between the ages of 18-22.
During one of our introductory language lectures, a professor told us to celebrate our individuality. After a year in Italy, where students were judged by their ability to regurgitate dates as opposed to think, the idea was so shocking and so welcome that I could barely hear it. Celebrating our individuality means both our interests and our habits. Just because you don’t fit the student stereotype, doesn’t sacrifice your identity as a student.
What about you? Did/do you fit a student stereotype? How would you describe the typical student?