Thursday, 13 March 2008

The Trials & Tribulations of Life on the Scrap Heap

This may appear as a rant but it is actually a genuine problem faced by many mature students seeking suitable employment after their graduation.

For anyone going back to full time, or even part time, education in their later years, it is a whirligig of an experience. You challenge yourself more fundamentally, taking the word education as re-education, than at any other point in your life. You must abandon all the suppositions and assumptions, recognized or not, that you have accumulated over your life and that help bolster your sense of identity and worth if you are to genuinely confront, absorb and understand the new concepts that will be presented to you as part of your university course.

Initially you feel naked and vulnerable as you strip away your armour of preconceptions. However, that is the least of the experience, it is also intellectually stimulating, physically draining and emotionally exhausting. The three years simultaneously condense and expand time; the years both stretch back endlessly and flash by with the noise of siren. The difficulty is, for most people, this period will represent the most intensely lived episode in their lives so it is not surprising that what follows post-graduation may appear grey and featureless. Many succumb to what may be loosely described as post-grad blues. Nor is this experience confined to mature students; those who leave university having arrived straight from school must also find the first years outside of academia deflating.

As a mature student, it matters not how realistic you may be about the difference a degree will make to your life, you are after all just one of thousands who graduate each year, it is still a sharp surprise that the outside world doesn’t seem to acknowledge your achievement. Your hopes of moving into a more interesting area of employment receive the cold shoulder of indifference. While you have been wrestling with Foucault or Derrida the world hasn’t even recognised your struggles with so much as a shrug; it has merely continued on its self-absorbed way.

Employers notice your degree not as the attainment of three years of effort but by the absence of three years of employment. You cannot possibly fulfil this function, firstly, because you haven’t done something similar before and, secondly, because you haven’t worked for three years.

‘Haven’t worked for three years?’ you feel like screaming. ‘Haven’t worked? Let me show you the mountains of books I have had to read, the extraordinary concepts I have had to grasp, the endless essays I have had to write and you have the effrontery to say I haven’t worked and then lard your insult by implying I don’t have the intelligence to learn your poxy procedures that a five year old could master in minutes.’

Since the Personnel Department was replaced by the HR department, any interest in the individual as an individual has been replaced by the view that the individual is merely an economic cipher. For HR, read Human Refuse.

OK, it is a rant. And for those of you who wonder why this has suddenly appeared out of the blue after such a long break in transmission, more later.


Deadbeat said...

It's so good to see the blog spring back to life!
This sort of intelligent, articulate comment is just what the world needs.
Thanks from a fan!
Nick (deadbeat)

Lane said...

Good to see you back.
Good luck with the two (!) books and battling with HR departments.

Jon M said...

Welcome back. I agree with your sentiments as someone who is just wrestling with his FOURTH postgraduate course and spent the first four years of post graduate life doing a job I could have picked up at 16 (oh the oppulent
80's...not). I hope the struggle is recognised and other life experience valued!

Tony said...

Hi there
We both have Brighton-related blogs that have decent Google Page rankings (mine is a 4). Want to trade links?
If you do then please link to me and mail me on and I'll add a link to your blog.
My blog is:
My website (which you may also want to link to) is:

Projetor said...

Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the Projetores, I hope you enjoy. The address is A hug.

Stuart and Gabrielle said...

Ah, David … I’m glad to see you recommence your blogging and with such a high qualitee peace of riting. I must take issue with you, despite the fact that you have an MA with distinction and me a mere BA Hons (First Class though!). The word is “varmint”, not “varmine”, and is an American English colloquialism for the word “vermin”. Just a touch of research would have avoided that bĂȘtise, even my spellchecker likes “varmint” yet doesn’t recognise “varmine” … you really must tighten up. old boy.
And could you please change the friend’s link from the erroneous “Deadbeat’s Diary” to the correct “Deadbeat Diary” … it’s all in the detail.
Now you have blown the cobwebs off your blog, please keep up the momentum and post some more soon (but without the mistakes) Brighton, the World even, needs you.
Cheers Mucka,

DOT said...

Thanks to all, sorry for the late reply but... etc.
As for the pedant Stuart's comment, vermine is how we Old Timer French speakers spell the word down in New Orleans! So rats to you :)