The difficulties of an arts degree

Connie Muttock 26 April 2014

"English is easy, all you have to do is read books all day!” Oh how wrong (and, well, basically right) you all are. The most difficult task I face all day, is not why E=MC² or how the central nervous system works (yeah, I know about sciency stuff), but how to organise my own time. Met with a vast abyss of a 16 hour day all free for the taking, I panic and flail for what to do. Procrastination soon takes hold and suddenly I’m on the daily mail celeb feed – there goes my morning.

No longer is my day divided into neat, sweet little periods of study that take me straight to 3.30pm feeling like I’ve done something productive with my day just by turning up to school. All of a sudden my day by 3.30 amounts to a far-too-long lie in, an hour of snap chatting, and a couple of pages of Shakespeare. The fact is – or, at least, this is what I tell myself when my medic friend wakes me from a 3-hour nap to tell of his lab-and-lecture-filled day – that arts students are given a much rawer deal than is really made out.

No, I don’t have 30 hours of contact time a week, and no, I didn’t learn how to save someone’s life today, but YES my work is just as hard… in its own way. You may say I have it easy because all I have is 4 hours compulsory contact time, but I challenge you to productively organise the other 164 hours of your week (yes, I can work a calculator), and somehow emerge at the other end of it with your sanity intact.

“But you don’t even have to go to your lectures!” I hear you cry. That, is the cruellest gift a Director of Studies can give. It may seem like a blessing, but all I’m left with now is the gruelling, inner-turmoil inducing task of deciding which lectures to drag myself out of bed for, which really means that anything before 11 is a no-go.

Couple this with the crippling guilt that hits you by Easter when you realise that you’re actually going to be assessed on all the stuff you didn’t bother with, and what you’re left with is a poet-quoting, pyjama-wearing, hot mess of an arts student.

Anyone can turn up at 9 and leave at 5 – it takes courage, commitment and nerve to survive at Sidgewick. I challenge you to the terrible freedom of an arts degree.