It’s exam time. The coffee shop is full of young people with papers, notebooks and highlighter pens. Studying seems to be so much fun than it used to be. Although it must be said that some of these conversations do actually seem to be about course work.

Kileen and I spent many long hours in the library, thinking we were studying. We managed to spend a fair bit of time organising our social lives, eyeing up the men, and gossiping. Would it be different now that we’re grown up, responsible and uninterested in young men? We’d work more effectively. We’d know to spend less time reading and more time thinking. We’d write essays that actually made sense, develop arguements, make confident presentations.

Now that I’m grown up I wouldn’t choose a degree subject simply because I’d quite liked it at school. I’d find out a bit more about the outside world, what interested me, what I’d like to do for years ahead. Without ever planning to do so, I ended up working  for a criminal justice charity for 15 years. Had health permitted I may have been there yet. Kileen, sharper than I, is still has a career she actually trained for! Dawnriser knew the value of focus and determination even then, while I, flighty Gemini, remain curious but easily bored and in possession of only a superficial knowledge of a range of things.

A quick glance at the website of the local university let me identify the course I’d like to do now. It’d be fascinating- time to consider issues around crime, welfare, benefits, disability, gender. Helping me to explain what interests me and put that into a wider context. Helping me to understand something about the ‘system’, so I can learn to influence it.  Not that I have energy, money or serious inclination to do it, but had I, that’s what I’d do now.

The opportunities for development outside the limits of the course or university confines are much greater than in Belfast of the 1980s. I look at the young people in the coffee shop and hope that they are grabbing all the chances they can, aiming high and  choosing not to be confined.

Wouldn’t you love to say that to them and freak them out?

“Why do I always get the weird old woman to, like, talk to me?”


10 thoughts on “exams

  1. Have you considered the Open University? It would be ideal for you because you could take only the courses that interest you and have an Open degree at the end of it. A surprising amount of funding is available.

    1. The OU is so impressive; not just the degree courses, but all the other stuff- wee short courses that can be done. I’ve always thought that an OU degree should count for more, because the students are living lives with grown up jobs and families, rather than hanging out in the student’s union like I did. 🙂

  2. Good point about not choosing a degree subject just because you’re good at it but because it’s what you want to do for the rest of your life. But it can be difficult at that age to work out what you really want to do and what all the possible options are. We’re usually aware of only a small number of options like what our parents or our friends’ parents do and what people on the telly do.

    I suspect I would have done more with my artistic talents if my parents had been artistic and encouraged me more in that direction. As it was, I did all sorts of other things which have been enjoyable but maybe not my real vocation. But planning the rest of your life when you’re still a teenager is a pretty mind-boggling task.

    I’ve had some trouble getting into your blog btw. I kept getting that security box and then I was told there was a problem with my internet connection. I only got into your blog today through Grannymar’s link!

    1. Goodness, Nick, I’m so non techy I didn’t even know I had a security box… When I first put up the postadaylink, it seemed to cause a problem briefly, but then it went away again (not that I did anything other than cross my fingers and hope). I’ll see if I can investigate.

      Herself always thought I’d like Law, but that meant nothing to me- I wasn’t interested in divorces, wills or conveyancing. Years later I did consider doing one of those conversion courses, but did a course in criminal justice management instead. That could have turned into a Masters’ degree, had I been prepared to work at it for another few years…

      1. So much of it is about what we know other real people do. A few years ago one of the ISS astronauts had local links and everyone in the primary school made flags, drew pictures, wrote stories and followed his trip on the NASA website. Now they know that yer one’s uncle is an astronaut and so even that is a ‘real’ job. Wider horizons, eh?

  3. I started out falling into a career. Health limitations stopped that short, freaking me out, scaring me into seeking a degree in that which I could understand at school. Followed by work in a totally different field. Second time around at uni I did the career focused post grad thing. Which is what I’m now working at. But you know, if I had the chance to go back, I’d follow my interest again – not what would get me the job. And my interest? Ancient history/archeology??? Well – perhaps it will be my ‘third -age’ project!!

    1. You do know archaeology involves wellies and a lot of digging in the cold and wet and mud? I used to share a house with several archaeology types and nothing could persuade me that it would be fun. Stick with nice warm history.

  4. I know what you mean about wanting to encourage to seize the opportunities that are now available – but also think that whatever it is they aspire to – they can, they should do it.
    Have heard mixed reports about remote OU supervision.

  5. Oh Xtrekki I’d love archaeology. I’d like to be outside and doing things! And if I had to do it again I’d do law & specialise in conveyancing. And then I’d make some proper money. Though maybe I’d be unemployed in this present climate. Oh and I’d never have been sophisticated enough/ had the wardrobe for all those law dos at university.

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