Students and their degree: The love-hate relationship


Today I sat down to the task of revising ‘Dubliners’ by James Joyce. If you have ever read it you can share in my pain, if you haven’t, spare yourselves. It’s a collection of short stories about people who live in Dublin, which sounds fine, until you find out that nothing actually happens in any of these stories. A typical example is ‘Eveline’ where Eveline wants to escape her life because it’s boring, her boyfriend asks her to run away with him, but she doesn’t, the end. That, my friends, is the genius of James Joyce. And all 15 stories follow a similar pattern. Artistic it may be, fun to read it is not.

But does this loathing of Dubliners (and a fair few other books I’ve studied this year) make me a bad English student? Does it mean I’ve chosen the wrong course? I dearly hope not. For the majority of the time I am in love with English Literature, but we do sometimes fall out. This raises the question of how much are we supposed to enjoy our course at university. Is it even a given that we should enjoy it at all? Or is it for some people a matter of them wanting a certain job so they’re studying a certain degree, regardless of whether they enjoy the lectures or the assignments?

In true English student style, I’m going to say that there is no right or wrong answer. However I thought it would be interesting to hear from other students to see where they rate on the passion-o-meter. So I asked my flatmates a few questions to find out what your average bunch of students think about their chosen subject:

Why did you choose to study your course?

Medic: I didn’t always know it’s what I wanted to do, it was more of a gradual realisation.

Geographer: Geography was always my favourite subject and I wanted to do a broad degree so I                          could keep my career options open.

Lawyer: I didn’t want to carry on any of my A levels, and law seemed like a good option.

On an average day of studying, do you enjoy it?

Medic: Yeah I do, I find it really interesting so I tend to enjoy it.

Geographer: No.

Lawyer: Not really, It’s really varied so it’s hard to enjoy all of it.

What’s your favourite thing about your course?

Medic: Being on placement, getting to interact with patients.

Geographer: How few contact hours I have. I get a lie in every day.

Lawyer: It uses all my skills because it can be both logical and abstract.

What’s your least favourite thing about your course?

Medic: The workload. And anatomy!

Geographer: We only get taught through lectures, not seminars or anything. Oh and essays!

Laywer: It’s quite boring.

Do you wish you enjoyed it more?

Medic: No I think I enjoy it the right amount.

Geographer: Yeah, which is bad because it’s costing me so much money, but there is no other                             subject I think I would prefer, besides I think I’ll enjoy it more next year.

Lawyer: Yeah I do, I think I’d do better in it too if I enjoyed it more.

So I’m going to put my extensive data-analysis skills to use and say that it’s a pretty mixed bag. This is good news for when you’re feeling mind-numbingly bored by a certain assignment, because we’ve all been there, questioning our strength to keep on studying, and living in general. There are those who are so passionate about their subject that it doesn’t feel like work, and that’s good for them, but for the rest of us it’s okay if your real passion in life lies outside of your course, like eating or bra buying or colouring things in (actually we all know that’s geography). However, whether you’re feeling the love for your subject or not, hard work still pays off, and a First in watching Netflix (however passionately you do it) is never going to look quite as good on your CV.


  1. May 15, 2014 / 10:37 am

    I’m not that fussed on my BA in sociology, but it’s better than anything else I could be doing. I like being able to take a few other interest papers too though which are usually more interesting.

    Rachel | Rachel is Elsewhere

    • Emily
      May 15, 2014 / 11:58 am

      It’s really interesting how everyone feels differently! It’s good that you have other choices for what you are into though 🙂

  2. May 16, 2014 / 12:16 pm

    Really interesting post! My course is International Relations and European Studies. I mostly enjoy my course and how its set out. I always enjoy it more in hindsight – so once I’ve written an essay and stopped stressing over it, I realise I enjoyed the process!

    • Emily
      May 16, 2014 / 4:56 pm

      Ooh your course sounds interesting! I know what you mean, I enjoy the subject in theory but when you’re in the middle of a stressy assignment it can make you forget momentarily that you enjoy what you’re studying! x

  3. May 18, 2014 / 11:39 am

    I did my degree as the quickest and cheapest way into my profession and whilst I love my job and found my course interesting, I probably spent more time reading literature than my textbooks for my (non-English literature) course. But my degree was a good grounding and gave my motivation and purpose that I may have lacked in another degree. University for me was so much more than my course though.

  4. Emily
    May 18, 2014 / 7:43 pm

    Yeah I think for a lot of people their degree just gets them where they want to be, and you’re right uni is far more than just what you are studying 🙂 Good to hear that you didn’t give up on reading what you wanted to haha, I think lots of people give up on reading anything that’s not for their course!

Let me know what you think!