Community: Real Life

All grown up


We've seen her grow from a fresher to a final year student. Now, as Lily embarks on her third year of university as a Politics, Philosophy and Economic student, will she be able to balance her partying with the pressure of exams and a dissertation?
Entry: 14

Lily is confused; it's her final year, yet the work seems to be drying up. As she searches for things to do, her thoughts turn to the teaching venture she's involved in after graduating this year.

I'm a little bit worried that I don't have very much to do. It's the first month of the year and both of my seminar tutors have set no reading, just asked us to think about why we chose their module. Considering we're meant to have about 10 hours reading and prep for each, I'm feeling as if there's a library-shaped hole in my week. This is so odd, and more to the point, I'm so tragic that I've brought my laptop to campus and am typing this entry amidst people with real work to do. When I've finished who knows what I'll do. I could read ahead (shock horror) for next week - but then what will I do next week? I may well be faced with the prospect of doing extra reading - alarming to say the least.

All I can think is that it's the beginning of my final term and my tutors clearly know something I don't. Is this one last week to draw breath before they hit us with more reading than I could have imagined? Or do we look so fragile at the prospect of a jobless future that they're just going to be really really nice this term? Every seminar we'll go along and talk about our feelings, and in the last week of term they'll hand us a comprehensive crib sheet for our multiple choice final exam. In my dreams, I suspect.

Next steps after university

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, a jobless future is becoming a greater reality. The Guardian was even kind enough to highlight this on its front page, just in case any poor student had missed the memo that he was screwed. Apparently one in six graduate jobs have already been cut and positions in the city alone have already decreased by 47%. Fan-bloody-tastic. My friend even got recommended to the BBC who wanted to interview someone "likely to remain unemployed" after university.

"All I can think is that it's the beginning of my final term and my tutors clearly know something I don't."

Last summer I applied for a place with the charity Teach First and in August I was accepted. Teach First puts young graduates into struggling schools for two years with a view to achieving two main things. Its motto is "learning to lead"; the idea being that two years of teaching can prepare you for anything. It sets you up to be a leader, and as a result, a great ambassador for Teach First. Secondly, the organisation aims to address educational inequality through its scheme. Following some fairly intensive summer schooling, teachers are put in areas of socioeconomic deprivation to address the shortage of teachers.

What was I thinking?

In all honesty it's the most terrifying thing I've ever set myself up for. This September, 2:1 permitting, I'm going to be faced with a class of 30 secondary school kids every day. And if we're honest, they're going to be 30 kids who aren't quite like the average class in my predominantly white, middle class, grammar school near Surrey. Of course, despite my panic, it's an amazing programme to be involved with and it's got a great history of successful placements in schools. Some incredibly motivated young people have gone through the scheme; they've even been responsible for the youngest head teacher in the UK. In fact, in general "graduates" of Teach First have gone on to do amazing things: working in education, setting up their own charities and even working in media - as I am hoping to do. I can't help but thinking I'm pretty privileged to be involved, no matter how many near nervous breakdowns I'll have in my first year of teaching.

All in all, some time between now and September I need to start looking like a grown up. I'm not sure whether my flowery rucksack is going to inspire much respect in the classroom. Thankfully I had an eye test a couple of weeks ago and have since acquired reading glasses. One stern look over these babies and nobody's messing with me... here's hoping!

Updated: 30/01/2009

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