Why doing a degree you didn’t study in school is low-key a struggle

Even Google Scholar is useless


Dropping all the subjects you did in school to embark on a degree in something new and exciting seemed like such a good move at the time. But then the reality hits – £9,000 a year on a subject you know nothing about. 10/10 for planning.

I chose to study Linguistics, which I couldn't do at A Level – much like those starting courses in Social Anthropology, History of Art, International Relations, and even Animation.

It sounds trivial, because I guess no one’s really meant to know what they’re doing yet, but I assure you, studying a brand new subject at uni is tougher than you’d think.

The introductory lecture is the most useless yet stressful 50 minutes of your life

Intro lectures are meant to paint the picture of the next four years, get you motivated for what’s to come, and re-assure you of the very expensive choice you’ve made to study at all.

But for me, the "Introduction to Linguistics" talk was a whirlwind of pure panic. Most noticeably, where was the introductory element? The lecturer dove straight into topics I’d never heard of. Morphology? Phonology? Syntax? And suddenly there’s science and graphs involved (definitely didn’t sign up for that). Could have sworn this wasn’t in the prospectus.

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Wasn't this happy on day one I can promise you

It tells you nothing about what the course is, or any kind of basics – more about what you should know by exam season. And if you’ve got any issues, don’t worry – it's ALL in the course handbook.

Can I do this for four years? Who knows

Since you’re starting afresh, the first few weeks of lectures are a blur of trying to grasp the basics. The first notes you make are practically copied from the lecture handout, and glancing at the laptops of strangers sat around you.

While grappling with freshers' flu, and trying to make those best friends for life, there’s that added angst of not knowing what on earth is going on-content-wise, and what you’re going to do with this after uni.

Everyone else seems to have nailed it

It’s perfectly reasonable that your new course is taking a bit of adjustment, and yet everyone else in the course already knows their revision plan and what they’re going to write their dissertation on.

This only makes your tutorials a stress and a half, with one keen bean piping up every five minutes about all the extra stuff he’s read on the articulation of consonants. Who knew there could be reading on that?

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Take a shot for every question-mark

The first assessment dread

You’ve managed to stay afloat for a month or so, fudging your way through tutorials and actually catching up on lectures lost to the late nights of Hive.

But now comes the real test – that first essay. You pick the question that seems the most straightforward, use any lecture knowledge that seems at all relevant, and have actually done some reading for it. Nice. Maybe this is when it all falls into place?

HA, nope. You got 42 per cent, and congratulations you’re classified as below average.

I know that the first assessment for all freshers isn’t their finest work, but when you thought you were beginning to understand your subject, it can be pretty disheartening.

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Still hurts a bit

This makes semester one sound all doom and gloom, but fear not – it will get better. Sometimes being a slow learner isn’t the end of the world, and taking time to grasp the basics will really help in the long run.

So for all those who have started uni this year with a course completely new to you, I applaud your bravery.

Except if you study medicine, then you 100 per cent knew what was coming.