Roar writer Sayali Marathe reflects on her university experience.
As final-year students approach the end of their teaching period, I feel melancholic. As a member of the class of 2021, I was not only robbed of my final year at university but nearly half of my degree was spent learning remotely. The last time I attended in-person classes was during the UCU 2020 strikes, my professor decided to still continue classes as she couldn’t afford to lose out on pay. After that, I was too paranoid to attend in-person classes but remained in the United Kingdom with the hope that some sort of normality would return. It didn’t.
For the first half of my third year, I thought that not going into classes was fine. But, the dissertation came around, and things started to feel like they were not going to be fine. Even now, I am troubled with the knowledge that I have to write two essays and sit for exams—on top of writing a dissertation. Assessments feel so pointless, I feel like I hardly learned anything this year. If History was once partially a self-taught degree, the pandemic has made it an entirely self-taught degree.
The History Department’s rankings in the QS World Rankings has not changed. I am happy for my Department as most of my professors and tutors deserve recognition. However, our College has failed both its students and faculty. The King’s administration has tried to make us feel bad for them. They want us to feel bad that they still get the same 6-figure salary. They want us to feel bad that they had to suspend rent retrievals.
When I look towards the future, I don’t know what to expect. Interim President Evelyn Welch said that we should be happy we are getting our degrees, but what does a piece of paper mean anymore? I don’t understand why those in charge of our education are treating us like we owe them. We gave them our money, we should be expecting them to treat us as their top priority. Does the King’s administration think they’re doing us a favour by giving us our degree, the one thing we’ve been working towards since we dreamed of getting into King’s?
All I see is e-mails from companies I applied to, saying I am not a fit for their company. I see all the money my mother has put into my education. I see all the ways I failed at taking my degree seriously when things were still normal. I feel lost, and unsure of how to feel that my university experience has almost come to an end.
To some extent, the point of these musings was to let final year students know that, you’re not alone. If you read this and it resonated with you, I’m sorry. I wish I could say things would get better, but I am struggling to find the light within this whole scenario as well. It’s okay to feel lost and frightened. To not know what the future holds. I don’t want to romanticise melancholy (I am not Keats), but it’s okay to wallow for a little bit. You’re allowed to feel like things don’t make sense. Sometime in the future, they will and we’ll be thankful then. But, for now, try to make the most of your last few months at King’s College London.
Go to online events and classes, or contribute to the many petitions that are trying to demand justice from universities. Make these last few months count, even if it feels pointless. Regardless of the changed circumstances, you’ll still have your friends. Reconnect with those that you’ve lost touch, or make new acquaintances. It’s never too late to make friends and keep learning.
Good luck to the class of 2021.