Journal Jar Q29. Did You Go To College – Where or When?

After completing my A levels in Summer 1986, I went to do a two year Polytechnic Diploma course at the (then) Polytechnic of Wales in German, Spanish and Secretarial Studies.  These days it’s known as University College Glamorgan.  Ideas above its station, I’d say.

I had an absolutely brilliant two years, and loved every minute of being a student.  Apart from the actual studying, which was a bit of an inconvenient interruption to my social activities, really.

Nevertheless I passed the course, and although I can say hand on heart that I’ve never had any need to use the German shorthand (yes, really) that I spent so many hours wrestling with, the rest of it has come in pretty useful over the years.

I lived in Halls of Residence for the first two terms, and then moved into a shared house with four other girls – a lesbian animal rights activist, a very strait-laced science student, an Iraqi girl on her first trip to the UK (boy, did she make the most of EVERY opportunity going, and I mean EVERY opportunity), and a hippie flower child.  An eclectic bunch – and I’ve just had the fleeting thought that I wonder how they’d describe me?

I really hope that William will go onto Higher Education – but if I’m honest, mostly for the student experience rather than the qualification.  Degrees seem to be ten a penny these days, and you can do them in such bloody ridiculous subjects:

BSc (Hons) in Surfing, anybody?

At the risk of being controversial (surely not, Caroline, I hear you all cry), I do think that the proposed new fee structure for Higher Education will weed out the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, and because it will be more costly, only those who are serious about obtaining a degree will be of a mind to go to University.

This in turn, will hopefully stop Universities offering degrees in subjects like surfing (I could go on – perfumery, dancing) and perhaps make our Higher Education system less of a laughing stock and more of an academic elite, as it was originally designed to be.

Or maybe I’m just old fashioned.



9 thoughts on “Journal Jar Q29. Did You Go To College – Where or When?

  1. perhaps make our Higher Education system less of a laughing stock and more of an academic elite, as it was originally designed to be.

    Join the old fashioned club. I couldn’t agree more.

  2. I’m with you. Except that I’m trying to do my M.Ed and it’s almost too expensive to do next year. I hope we can manage it…….

  3. Sounds somewhat familiar. I dropped out of A-level study and after six months of working at a travel agency, I headed back to a poly to do a Foreign Correspondent’s course – French and German with Secretarial Studies. I guess they were training us for the EU! I had to leave after the first year, however, because my family moved to California but I did manage to pick up an O Level in Commerce and great results on my exams in French and German. Never did master shorthand though!

  4. I am so with you on this one, Caroline. When even I can answer questions on University Challenge that some of our so-called well-educated youth can’t, there must be something very amiss with our higher education system.

    Personally, I had three extremely pleasant years in the early 1980’s doing an English degree at college – which has never been an awful lot of use in real life, if truth be told. It was all paid for by the state (thanks, Maggie), including my personal grant, and socially I had the best three years of my life!

  5. In a lot of ways, I agree. I believe our education system should be free to those who are really going to USE it, but I do think that should be a minority of school-leavers. Aiming for 50% of kids going on to university is lowering entrance standards and devaluing their eventual qualifications; my degree means absolutely nothing to either my employers or me, and I wish someone had made me wait a few years until I had thought properly about which qualification to aim for and why.

  6. How fascinating! I did a two year course (brevet de technicien supérieur) in… secretarial studies, German and Spanish! It wasn’t Uni and I lived in a flat with my brother. It was rather like school – 8.30am to 5.30pm EVERY DAY, so my social life was inexistant! I have, actually, used my German shorthand once or twice… I remember “bedingungen” went half way down the page (we learned a French shorthand adapted to other languages). I knew we were on the same wavelength lol 🙂

  7. I agree that people shouldn’t take on degrees lightly, but what if you are serious about studying but simply can’t afford it now because of the fee hikes? My worry is that going to uni will soon be an option only for people whose families can afford it, and that consequently an already-divided society where less well-off families feel socially ostracised will divide even further. There are hundreds of brilliantly minded kids out there who now stand to lose out because their families can’t afford to send them to uni. And there are also lots of really stupid rich kids out there who will still get to go because their parents can simply whip out the chequebook. Yes, I think it should be about sorting the wheat from the chaff. But academically, not financially. Somehow I think the new structure will only work in favour of those who can afford it. Which is wrong.

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