How to get through University without taking out a single book

Meet the final year student who has never taken a book out the library and has never even read a book in Eddie B or Brotherton. Want to know how he does it? EDDIE EDMONDS explains.

For the past two and a half years I’ve managed to get through my University education without so much as taking a journal article out of either the Eddy Boyle or Brotherton Libraries.

In fact, I haven’t even read a book in the confines of the library itself. I could probably count by hand the amount of times I’ve been in both buildings and on all of those occasions it was to work as part of a study group with pre-prepared notes.

A lot of you are probably assuming I’m on a course which doesn’t require a lot of secondary reading. Well, you’d be wrong. I study Classical Civilisations—a program built around secondary sources and ancient texts. My flatmate, who studies the same degree as me, currently has library fines in excess of £30 from second year and a whole pile of books stacked up on his desk that he took out this month alone.

Here’s  my secret on how to get by at University without what some have been fooled into thinking is a staple requirement of a Uni education.

1) Use Jstor

My uni life in a nutshell

When I tell people that I use Jstor for most of my sources I’m often met with silent judgement. For some reason or other we have this weird hang-up that something printed out on a piece of paper is more respectful than the same document found on the web.

In a world where technology is growing in importance on a weekly basis, clinging to the notion that books are unquestionably a better source of information baffles me. Jstor is an online library. Why not find seven or eight solid sources on there and avoid having to walk to the Eddy Boyle in the wind and rain?

2) Lecture Notes

Think about it for a second: The lecturers are the ones who mark your essays and exams. If you base a huge chunk of your assessments around what they told you from their own research, you are bound to get a good mark.

“This student was clearly paying attention to what I had to say. He understands the points I made fantastically and demonstrates them here.”

By regurgitating the same facts back to the person who taught you you are showing not only an interest in the subject, but also a like-mindedness with your lecturers. How can they mark you down if you are repeating their own views?

3) Birthday and Christmas

If there’s one thing my parents love it’s buying me books related to my degree (hey, I never said I didn’t read a book—just that I didn’t get them from the library).

I’m 22 now. There isn’t really a whole lot I want in the way of gifts on these special occasions. If you’re running short of ideas why not ask mum and dad (as well as other family members) for the odd book here and there.

In the last 3 months I managed to attain six separate texts for my dissertation reading. All completely free (for me) and mine to keep forever.

 4) Improve your essay writing skills

You can be the smartest most studious person in the world, but if your essays and exams aren’t up to scratch then you’re going to drop a weighty chunk of marks every time.

A clear flowing essay can often be the difference between a grade of 2:2 and a decent 2:1. Maybe your points weren’t the most thorough, or perhaps you didn’t totally grasp the concept—that can be at least in part made up for with an aesthetically pleasing piece of work.

This will never be me

So far using this method has garnered me with an average score of 65 for my degree.

I wouldn’t for a second argue that what I’m doing is without question better than the typical library system—but at the same time I refuse to accept criticism for it when I am coming out with higher grades than a lot of my peers.

So, if you’re a lazy bugger like me who can’t be bothered to take the 10 minute walk to campus for a few tatty old books, then maybe this is something you should look into for the future. Who knows, perhaps it’ll make all the difference between that 2:2 and a 2:1?