A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.
At the beginning of every new semester, there comes that glorious moment where you find yourself in a lecture theatre and a tutorial with a group of complete strangers.
You are united in your quest to pass the subject, with the least amount of effort, by attending the minimum amount of classes and sleeping through the maximum amount of lectures. Before you lies a blank slate; you could meet your future life partner in this room, you could meet a friend who will change the course of your life, you could even meet someone famous!
Maybe not. In fact, the people that you are actually going to meet are probably going to be more like this…
The Mature Aged Student
Fresh from a lifetime’s experience in the workforce or as a parent, the Mature Aged Student (MAS for short) is full to the brim with knowledge. Just ask them. Or in fact don’t. They’ll probably tell you before you get the chance. Their favourite comments include:
‘As a mother, I know that I always do…’
‘As someone who has been working in this field for 20 years, I believe that we need to do…’
‘At my son’s school we are always talking about…’
‘That’s all good and well, but once you’re actually out in the workforce, and you kids will understand that one day…’
They are also prone to answering all of the tutor’s questions, and then asking completely unnecessary questions which really just allow them to demonstrate their already voluminous knowledge on the topic.
Can Be Found: In the Business, Commerce, Law and Education faculties where they have returned to complete the degree they ‘didn’t think they needed’ thirty years ago but have discovered they do now to stop getting passed over by people twenty years their junior at work, or they have become so disillusioned with their chosen career they are now having that mid-life ‘career change’ moment.
If you find any of them in Arts – run. Run for your life. They have come back to uni because they ‘have a lot of spare time on their hands and they are just interested in learning’.
Translation: ‘I’ve spent forty more years than you reading books and now I’m going to sit here and spend 33 minutes of every tutorial telling you about it whilst the tutor sits there hopelessly trying to shut me up.’
The Socially Insecure Know-It-All
A common fixture of almost every class, much like the MAS, the Socially Insecure Know-It-All (SIKIA) spends most of their time attempting to demonstrate their extensive knowledge on the subject, usually by asking completely irrelevant questions they already know the answer to. Occasionally, their case of SIKIA-ism is so acute they stoop to interrupting and asking questions during a lecture. More than once. Much to the horror of everyone else sitting there desperately waiting to escape.
Unlike the headphone wearing, non-hair washing, Uber Geeks (see below) whom resemble a real-life version of the Big Bang Theory boys, the SIKIA student has yet to find a safety net of fellow geeks and is swimming alone in the vast seas of academia, unguided and unprotected by a shield of geekdom. This exposes their social ineptitudes to the masses and the only way they know how to compensate for this is to know everything.
They will have done all of the readings, all of the extra suggested readings, some more readings they found themselves, all of the practice questions and written their essays and handed in their coursework at least one week before it was actually due. They will also then tell you about all of this.
Can Be Found: At the front of the lecture theatre, in every tutorial class and talking to the tutors after the class for a good ten minutes about nothing relevant to the subject. Occasionally, the SIKIA has an unplanned evolutionary reaction to a member of the opposite sex in the tutorial group and finds themselves inexplicably attracted to them. Lacking the necessary social skills (and possibly fashion sense) to make any sort of decent impression, these attachments will result in absolute adoration, staring, sitting next to the subject at every opportunity and a proliferation of offers to help the object of their affection with their homework.
They will be members of the 1701 Star Trek Club, they will own a collection of t-shirts emblazoned with superheroes, they will not wash their hair often, they will actually know of and frequently visit a real comic book store, they will own rather large headphones which they wear about campus, and congregate in groups. They will also sit in these groups in the lecture theatre and the tutorial and it is most likely that when you talk to them, they will either jump or back away during conversation.
Stepping into a conversation with an Uber Geek can be like talking to Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. If you hear something like this as you walk past… ‘Scissors cuts paper, paper covers rock, rock crushes lizard, lizard poisons Spock, Spock smashes scissors, scissors decapitates lizard, lizard eats paper, paper disproves Spock, Spock vaporizes rock, and as it always has, rock crushes scissors.’ – keep walking.
Can Be Found: They run the Science and Engineering faculties and can often be found branching out into Medicine, Law and occasionally Commerce. If you find them in an Arts or Architecture subject, they are lost. Give them a map, and a pat on the back and send them on their way.
The Tiger Child
Driven by an unwavering will to succeed, the Tiger Child at University is a Tour de Force intent on changing the world, saving the world, running the world and making their first million by 25 while they’re at it.
They’re not here to make friends, they’re here to make networks. They will take all of their notes on iPad, they will run any group presentations or group projects with an iron fist, they will not shy away from telling any slackers in the group to pull their weight and are likely to be a part of a political group or a ‘Doctors/Engineers/Lawyers Without Borders’ group.
They are often formidably intelligent and couple this with a sharp sense of fashion, being seen at the right places, doing internships over the summer, working in their parents businesses on the side and never taking no for an answer.
Can Be Found: They run the Medicine and Law faculties and live on the third floor of the library where they have a permanent desk. They are also prevalent in Business, Commerce and Architecture and occasionally take a double degree in Arts majoring in Political Science, because they can. They can be seen terrorising hapless library staff who do not have the books they need right now and hanging out with other Tiger children as they formulate their plans for world domination.
Predominantly country kids who move to the city to live on campus. They wake up when the lecture starts and turn up five minutes late wearing bed-hair, thongs, trackpants and a rugby jumper or hoodie emblazoned with their college logo and their nickname on it. Common nicknames include – Johnno, Macca, Ems, Chooka, Bubbles or Ezza.
They will be incredibly laid back, spend a lot of time involved in on campus activities such as the More Beer! and Poker Club’s events and their love life/relationships with their fellow college roomies will resemble something out of Days of Our Lives by Week 9 of every semester.
They will only start to look remotely frazzled about anything when exam period creeps up and they need to fit the usual college drinking schedule in with actual study.
Can Be Found: At the Student Union, at all of the Social Club BBQs on the lawn, at the Pub down the corner, smattered through the Arts, Commerce and Science faculties and representing the university in every sport from Skiing to Dodgeball.
The Princess Diaries Girls
Remember Anne Hathaway in Princess Diaries? Before the makeover?
There is a collection of these girls in every class. They have managed to survive the ravages of high school, most commonly at a single sex school where being intelligent was valued above being glamorous and have now landed themselves in a place where they get to talk about and study things they absolutely love, ostensibly with other people who absolutely love them too.
Yes, they read a lot of Austen, idolise Lena Dunham and their fashion sense isn’t exactly catwalk but they will also have a cracking sense of humour, be smart and witty and be friendzoned by every bloke in their course.
Can Be Found: They run the Arts faculty and can be found in Science, Architecture, Business and even Law. They will be involved throughout the student groups and libraries on campus, and will most likely end up contributing to the University magazine. They will blossom post-uni and every bloke who friendzoned them will meet them six years down the track and wonder what the hell they were thinking when they were 19.
The Dreamers can be found at every university. They don’t often attend class, but this is because they’re trying to combine their paleo, wholefood, socialist, vegan, feminist, Greens, pacifist tendencies with the machinations of the higher education model, and that shit is time consuming.
They come to university full of the wide-eyed exuberance of youth, with plans to change the world and by second and third year spend most of their time lying around on the lawn disillusioned with the system, occasionally attending class and often smoking substances of dubious legality. They will live in share houses around the uni, have legendary parties that channel the very best of John Lennon and the cast from every season of Skins all at the same time, and make friends from all walks of life.
If you have the time, they are incredibly interesting to have a conversation with, will make you feel like you are not doing nearly enough to change the world, but that you have the power to do so all the same.
Can Be Found: They live in the Arts faculty, but can often be found in Law where they continue to study even though they despise the system because deep down they know this will help them make a difference. They spend a lot of time on-campus, particularly lying on the lawns, in the Student Union buildings, staging protests, eating bio-dynamic, organic, triple sprouted spelt bread sandwiches at the co-op, wearing fisherman’s pants and caught up in deep conversation with someone about saving the whales.
Ah uni. There is no place like it.