Fuck your degree

All of you need to stop working so hard.

Firstly, to my DoS, if you’re reading this (please, please can you not be reading this, please), I genuinely do often enjoy most of my work and I’m forever grateful to you and this institution for letting me study here and I do want to do well and I am going to work really hard for my exams and my dissertation is actually progressing nicely because I’m super interested in the topic and my supervisor is great and said my plan was at the right level of complexity.

But to the rest of you: fuck your degree.

Take it outside, give it a good hard look, smile grimly, and then viciously kick it to death until it’s nothing but a wet, sagging husk worth £9k a year.

And then start making things.

Make anything. Make art, make mistakes, make decisions, make things up, make concessions, make out with people, make nineteen part radio dramas.

If you’re even slightly creative, but you’ve never really done any extracurricular stuff because in first year you just wanted to settle in and now it’s second year and work is getting scarily intense and you’re worried that you won’t be able to make anything good anyway – fuck all that. Make things.

Just like on Art Attack

Start by making them privately, locked in your room, in the very back pages of your journal in a secret made up language only you have the cipher for, and tell no one.

Then maybe talk about them with a couple of close friends, when you’re all drunk.

Then talk about them a bit louder, and make a single small thing and tell people about it on Facebook.

Then sign up to the mailing list for the people who like to make the thing you like to make and meet other people who want to make that thing.

Then get together a group of like-minded people and make one really big thing.

Me and some people making a thing

Then take a look at that thing you all made and be really impressed by how you actually made a thing. It’s flawed and desperately amateur but it exists, and if you died tomorrow (perhaps because you were murdered by your DoS) then this thing would still exist.

Then make another thing.

And when you’ve made some things, plug them mercilessly, and without shame. Example:


I made this. I’m extremely proud of it, and the whole team of wonderful people who made the making of it possible.

Please watch it.

And then when you’ve watched it, get off your lazy, cowardly arse and do something creative.

Because you’ll never have this much free time again. A Cambridge degree is time intensive, but nowhere near as much as an actual job in the real world and then a spouse and kids and a house and ailing pets and unrepentant incontinent parents.

Yes, getting a job when you leave here is important. And a good degree is a valuable thing. But if you let the fact that you’re paying nine grand a year to study here stop you from taking advantage of the ocean of less conventional learning opportunities, then basically the Tories have won.

Look at him, thinking about the destruction of the arts in this country

People joke about graduating straight into a slick city job and ‘selling their soul’ for a ridiculously high wage. But then an ever-increasing number of us actually do it.

If that’s how you want to spend your life, then sure, go for it. But if something in you isn’t entirely sure, if something in you has always thought that maybe struggling hopelessly as a performance poet but sometimes making people cry with the sheer power of your gut-wrenching prose might be a pretty satisfying life – then why not give it a try while you’re here?

If you hate it, then you can still just graduate and get that high flying job. That’s meant to be the whole point of university, even if increasingly it doesn’t feel like that at all these days.

Cambridge is a petri dish of rabidly enthusiastic people and a million different things you can try out. Nobody will care if the things you make are abominations. Nobody will care if it turns out you don’t have a single creative bone in your body, and that every project you touch turns into tragically bad trash.

This is such a fucking unique time. Make things. Please.