‘My laptop stopped working’: Lancs students share their essay nightmares

From absent tutors to technological meltdowns, we’ve all had essay nightmares before

The dreaded essay; you can run from it, you can mute Teams notifications and even “forget” your Moodle password but ultimately, you can’t hide. Many a Lancaster student could tell their very own  grizzly tales about an essay crisis they’ve come across in their time at uni and as the old saying goes “a problem shared is a problem halved”, which is why we at the Lancaster Tab feel that it is our public duty to reveal some of the most shocking essay nightmares that Lancaster students have had to endure.

Proceed with caution.

Curious cats

Emma, a third-year politics student, usually works with the window open, and was used to her neighbour’s cat coming into her bedroom through the open window.  She said: “I had left a large glass of water and my laptop on my desk. I was sat on my bed when I saw the cat enter the window.” and was sitting in the bed when she saw the cat enter through the window.

It’s easy to imagine what happened next, the cat knocked the glass over onto the desk, and water spilt all over Emma’s laptop. She rang PC World  in tears. Despite the insurance coverage, she wouldn’t be getting the laptop back.

Emma said: “For the next 10 days before my four essays were due, I would go to the library at 10pm and not return until 6/8am, as I had no laptop and needed library computers.”

Restoring your laptop to factory settings gone wrong

Emily, a first-year English Language and Linguistics student said: “My laptop stopped working and I had to reboot everything. Everything that was downloaded got wiped off and I didn’t want to pay for Office since it’s the end of the year.” Instead, she decided to download a fake version of Word in order to do the essay, but then came to the realisation that it wouldn’t let her convert the file into a PDF and that Moodle wouldn’t recognise the file.

Her solution was to copy the whole essay into an email and go to the library at 9am in order to put it on a Word file. Luckily, Emily was able to submit her essay without any more problems.

Better late than never

A first-year history student, Rowan from Lonsdale College, was writing her first history essay of the year when she realised that the main argument “was pretty much useless”, her counter-argument should have been her main argument, and the sources were better suited to the main argument. This was 5 hours before the deadline.

Rowan said: “In a mad rush, I had to restructure my whole essay and find new sources to prove everything I should have in the first place.”

It happens to the best of us, Rowan.

Dissertation Heist 101

Back in 2019, Patrick*, an international student was doing a consultancy project alongside a dissertation which was, in his opinion, the most daring thing he’d ever done. Describing the project, he said: “I had to relocate to a client’s office from June until the end of August, solve their real business issue, and then prepare a report as a part of my dissertation. I further had to work on a mini dissertation to try to academically explore the problems I was solving.

“My professor was amazing during the first few weeks as I settled into the new place. We had conversations where we agreed on how we could work things out.”

But as the weeks went by, Patrick started to sense the professor’s unavailability. He had to work both the report and the mini dissertation simultaneously without support from his professor.

When his supervisor eventually contacted him about his dissertation, he told Patrick that he’d be on track to wrap up before the deadline. Patrick was excited and planning on finishing the dissertation two days in advance, and go out travelling.

But when he submitted his dissertation, the supervisor told him that what he had handed in was the exact opposite of what he was supposed to do. Patrick said: “I was gobsmacked. He said that, with this dissertation, I should be concerned for my degree. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was so shellshocked… I could feel everything crumbling.”

Patrick tried to frantically get in touch with the coordinator to ask about an extension, but it was denied. He said: “they said [extensions are] only possible for extenuating circumstances. They said “you’ll have to work this out in the set deadline or else your degree could be in jeopardy.”

“I ran off to the library and started frantically reading without any plan… About 30 minutes in, tears started rolling down my face and I thought: “there is no way I can do this”. All my dreams and money as an international student, the expectations, the weight of it felt too much.”

Patrick had to rewrite the dissertation in 3 days, staying up and getting friends helping him out the best they can. He went all-in with the clock ticking, knowing there was no way of quitting. He said: “I would rather fail knowing I gave it everything… every ounce of energy and glimmer of hope.”

Miraculously, Patrick was able to finish on time, and with only a slight hitch with hard-copies and online submission, he submitted his dissertation. He said: “I thought my head and heart were going to explode together. Despite everything, I managed to pull it off successfully. It’s up there as the most crazy day in my life.”

The Blue Screen of Death

Kathryn, a first year Psychology student was writing her extended essay for 3 weeks, and was going to do the final touches the night before. When she turned her computer on, she was greeted by a blue screen and a foreboding Windows error message. Together with her boyfriend, she tried to fix it, but with the deadline approaching, they didn’t have time to spend all night fixing the laptop. To make things worse, Kathryn hadn’t saved her essay to OneDrive since she rarely used it.

Kathryn said: “I had to do a 12-hour all nighter at the library rewriting my 2800 word essay on feminism for my minor (social work). It was a trip!”

But in the end, she treated herself to a Greggs after that speedrun of an essay, there’s some light at the end of that tunnel!

Essay nightmares are probably one of the worst things to happen to a student at university, but with a bit of perseverance and hope, you can overcome cat mishaps, jumbled arguments, and even the blue screen of death. And if you’re writing your final essays of the year right now, keep going! We’re almost at the end!

*name changed for anonymity

Recommended articles by this writer:

Meet the Lancs Uni student who wrote her dissertation on Connell from Normal People

Tell us your essay crisis and we’ll tell you how likely you are to drop out

Ten revision tips that Lancaster students can use