For most university graduates, the thing on their mind after their course is over is the next step in their career, their job prospects and sadness no longer receiving a student loan. However one thing that is usually forgotten about is the adjustment to life outside of education, something most grads haven’t experienced for seventeen years.
For me and the other graduates of 2017, this Autumn will be the first this millennium that I’m not education. The last time I’d enjoyed early September without having to spend six hours getting my school clothes for the year, Donald Trump was just a businessman, Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist, and Arsene Wenger was manager of Arsenal.
There’s a void of 200 plus days a year that needs fillling, and unfortunately it can’t be filled with Netflix days and shopping sprees. Ignorant family members will suggest you simply get a job, and whilst that does give you something to do and money to waste, it doesn’t stop you from missing things from education that you never thought you’d miss.
After spending the best part of my life worrying about how unreadable my writing was for teachers and fellow students, I haven’t written anything meaningful other than notes at work, which everyone ignores anyway, in months. Knowing that I’ll never get cramp in an exam hall after simply writing my name is a good feeling, but there’s something about getting smart pens for my birthday, losing them in the first week of the new term and that joy when you produce an aesthetically pleasing piece of writing that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a Shakespeare script.
Another thing I’d have no idea I’d miss is the timetabled system I had for 17 years, and not just the extended breaks. It would be easily to say that I only miss it becuase nine hour plus work days with legally suspect break systems are a lot more grueling than school, but I also miss it on my days off. I had a schedule to abide by, I knew what parts of the day I’d enjoy, I knew when work had to be done by, I knew when I could earn a break. However most importantly, I had a reason to get out of bed. Without education, and with friends (Myself included) who can’t make plans to save their lives, It’s very easy to waste days away. I did my best to take walks over the summer, go to the gym, and chill by the beach, and as someone who doesn’t like moving, it really did help replace the void of a timetabled day you don’t quite enjoy, but cant live without.
Speaking of things I can’t live without, I’d just like to hold a moment of silence for PowerPoint presentations. Whether there were filled with effects, impossible to read, outdaded or written the day before the lesson, they were a constant in my life for a decade. It’s easy to look at them at home, but unfortunately nothing will replace watching a teacher pronounce a word wrong, or trying to make your friends laugh with inappropriate noises.
Perhaps what made PowerPoint presentations so bearable was my friends throughout the years. Without education you lose contact with a lot of people, people move away, and people dissappear off the face of the earth. The only friends I really see these days are my day ones (when we’re capable of making plans). Outside of education it’s hard to meet more people. Of course I can make friends at work but my wacky persona isn’t enough any more, apparently I have to be a mature human being, and good at my job. I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep and not forget those you met in education.
Finally, the thing I thought I’d be glad to be rid of, is something I greatly miss, my teachers. Those in my school times acted as role models, some brought me out of my shell whilst others pressured me to reach my potential. My teachers and professors from higher education also did that, as well as started treating me like the young adult I was becoming. There’s very little chance I’ll find another authoritive role model again, or a teacher who dropped wildly inappropriate jokes that only I’ll find funny. I’ve also realised that I probably won’t be able to annoy anyone as much as I did teachers without getting fired or getting beaten up.
After all these years, I realise why my mum told me that I’d look back on my education fondly. It will be impossible to top the experiences, friends and role models I made at school, college and university so my advice is to treasure those memories and try to keep an element of education in your life. That shouldn’t be too hard for me, as after three motnhs of freedom, I want to do a masters degree. I need my drug, I need one last Powerpoint Presentation the teacher definitely did the night before.