Tag Archives: essays

An open letter to (not all of my current or former) university students.

Dear university student body,

Dudes. Come on.

You are amongst the brightest and most hopeful young minds in the world. Did you know that? If you live in Australia, you’re lucky enough to be part of one of the most educated countries in the world. That’s amazing! Education is a privilege, not a right, and you have access to it relatively cheaply and openly. The fact that you are a woman or from a particular ethnic background or socioeconomic sector does not preclude you from getting a diploma or a degree, if you want one.

There are also an abundance of opportunities for those who do not wish to pursue post-secondary education too, and that’s fine.

The fact that you have finished both primary and high school (to some level, be it year 10, 11, or 12) puts you so far above the majority of people in this world. There are people who fight literally every single day of their lives to be able to get the education that you take for granted. Kids who don’t have the luxury of grumbling about waking up and going to school every day for 12 years, because they’re too busy fetching water or working on farms or just trying to stay alive. Kids who don’t have schools nearby. Kids who don’t have the means to access education.

But not you. You just get to go to school, and even if your family doesn’t have money, your government ensures that you still have access to some of the world’s highest quality education, almost for nothing. And when you finish school, you can choose to go to university, and how’s this? You don’t even have to pay until you get your degree and find a job! How awesome is that?

So please, please, tell me why on earth with all this privilege, all these wonderful opportunities right in front of your nose, please tell me why you cheat on your assignments? Why you plagiarise, or just do damn lazy things like copy and paste assignments from other students who have shared their old assignments on their blogs, or why you submit the same assignment as your friend, and hope I won’t notice?

I will notice. I will notice if you have cheated, I will notice if you have made liberal use of copy and paste, and I will especially notice if I read the exact same assignment twice within a matter of days.  I will notice if the only sources you have referenced are the first three sources that come up when you Google “difference between web and net” because they’re the same three damn sources that the vast majority of the other students will reference, too. Mostly, I will notice that you don’t seem to care. I’m so sick of it.

This isn’t a rant to out any one of my students. I have taught some absolutely brilliant people over the past five years, and I’ve taught a hell of a lot more students that might not be getting the top marks in the class, but they’re always trying and always learning, and that’s all I want as a teacher.

That, and for people to stop trying to take me for a ride.

What is the point of going to university if you’re not going to try learn something? Your degree is more than a piece of paper or some letters at the end of your name. It’s the opportunity to learn that the vast majority of the people in this world will simply never have, and to learn about things that you probably never would’ve learned if left to your own devices. Why not really get involved?

Sure, it takes a bit more effort, but the rewards are immense. Really knuckle down and do some research before submitting an assignment. Really think about the question and what it’s asking you to do, and for goodness sake, ask your teachers if there’s something you’re unsure about! We don’t bite! And yes, there are some truly, truly shitty teachers out there – and for that, I am sorry – but the ones who aren’t shitty will appreciate the fact that you felt confident enough to speak up and ask for help.

If you don’t care about learning, don’t go to university. Get a career advantage in other ways – perhaps by working hard at the office. If you are at university, make the most of it and get your money’s worth. Most of all, don’t be so selfish. It’s challenging because it’s meant to be. If it’s not challenging, perhaps you aren’t thinking deeply enough.

Cherish your education. The luxury of learning is one of life’s pleasures, so don’t take the privilege of your education for granted.