My degree is a joke and don’t I know it

Amelia Oakley 26 February 2016

Most days I am, at some point, greeted with the chorus ‘'oh, but you only do English though'’. Studying English, you just have to deal with the constant digs, and attempts at belittlement that accompany your degree. It’s a well known fact: English is a ‘doss subject’, ‘a joke’, a ‘massive waste of time’.

Such comments used to irritate me when I first started at Cambridge, I used to defend my beloved subject, and concoct reasons why all the cynics were wrong. Now, I don’t bother. Firstly because the criticism is constant, and would take far too much of my time to counter argue every comment.

Secondly, because I kind of agree. 

I, like most people, will be lumped with my £27,000 tuition fee debt when I graduate (along with all of those other friendly maintenance debts). But, unlike most people, I will have been grossly overcharged for my Cambridge degree.

Currently, I have one fixed contact hour a week. A week of 168 hours, my £9000 a year, gets me just one. I am in the midst of a coursework term, which mean my optional lectures just aren’t relevent to me at the moment. And as for supervisions, well, they happen, sometimes, only when I’ve done enough work to earn one.

I’m not necessarily complaining, my DoS is phenomenal, and my supervisors brilliant, my work is interesting, and I love my degree. But there’s very little indication to show me where my money is going, other than printing some occassional hand-outs.

So when people ask me why I do so much extra stuff, why I am constantly running from meeting to meeting when I could just spend my days ‘dossing’ around, I say two things. I am very much aware of the quite frankly extortionate rip-off that is the cost of my degree. I am very much aware that my student loan is essentially a gift that I have so kindly and graciously given to the medical students. I am very much aware that, despite this, I am constantly envied and abused my peers for the degree I do. I know all this, and I have resolved, not to care. But rather to get my money’s worth, and to make the most of my time here.

They say, by attending Cambridge itself, you are paying for the privilege of being here and I plan on exploiting that privilege to the maximum.And if that manifests itself in me spending countless hours in the mysterious dungeon that is The Cambridge Student office, baricading myself in the Corpus Playroom, or deciding I can definitely manage doing a film festival as well, then so be it.

So believe me, I know that an English degree will never be the most respected of endevours, I am very much in on this quite humourless joke, I really don’t need it thown in my face every day.