Adina yawned at me the other morning, and questioned why our entire first batch of deadlines occurred within the space of two weeks. Clutching a coffee and feeling equally deprived of sleep; I saw that she had a valid point. For weeks we have had only lectures, tutorials, and the expected abundance of reading. Now, we had a couple of Geography assignments (leading immediately into a third), and a History source exercise to complete. Ok, we had known about these deadlines for ages. Fair enough. But we are only freshmen still searching for the right rhythm and tweaking our personal habits and timetables.
I was fortunate enough to apply external credits for the semester and opt out of a third module. Adina also has Spanish Intensive; resulting in a constant barrage of grammatical and linguistic testing, and possibly the presence of dreams (on the occasion that she actually sleeps) that would benefit from the addition of subtitles. Most of the others continued the Politics from semester 1 with Globalisation (essay also due this week), and after reading the essay of the wonderfully monikered and effervescent “Miiss Riio” late one night, I am content with my current selection. In saying this, however, I did learn from reading it.
But the question still begs. Is this a simple application of staff scheduling or is there a deeper and darker purpose afoot?
By mid-term, regardless of any ‘reading week’ inclusion or absence, we have most certainly settled into routines. Not all of those routines are guaranteed to be beneficial to our advancement. Some have made the library a second home, choosing a studious and sacrificial approach to academia, while others are living in a perpetual hangover from the student social life and the opportunities to connect (and get blasted) at the likes of ‘Skint’, ‘Liar Bar’ et al. Some students may have found that the added pressure of an impending deadline creates a more intense focus and, ultimately, a passing result. Far be it for me to cast any judgmental dispersion; my lecture attendance is still lacking and my assignments are still being approached the day/night before submission.
I have a theory, and it goes back generations.
Our lecturers, tutors, admin staff, and everyone involved in making the University a success for the eager individual have, for the most part, been exactly where we are now. At some point – albeit without iPhones, social media, and a sense of fashion. They have studied and learned as much as they have fallen drunk at the parties and slept in the following morning. They have been students, and experienced the associated life before we even considered further education to be an option. Quite simply, they have seen it all before.
I believe, given this collective experience, a barrage of coinciding deadlines is an intentional application of reason. What better way to slap us in the face with a cold, wet glove and get us to focus on the subject, when we may have drifted, disconnected, or become creatures of unfruitful habit? It’s a wake-up call; intended to keep us on track and prevent us from failure. It works, and as annoying and sleep- depriving that it may be, it is for our own benefit.
Sure, I’m tired. But I got the work done on time. The balance between books and Netflix has been reset. One day, as we are manoeuvring through 9 to 5 with our degrees in hand, sleep will once again become a regular pattern. Adina will no longer dream in Spanish. We will look back at deadlines and jest; realising that university not only taught us subject, but taught us something about ourselves.