When I commenced writing this column, I made a personal commitment to myself to not whine frequently about my financial situation. Not only would it be dreadfully tedious, but as a graduate student, I’m not particularly hard done by. Although I have made financial sacrifices to further my studies, I initially believed that an unquenchable thirst for knowledge was the principal impetus for academic pursuits post-graduation. However, it has come to my attention that there are various and diverse motivational factors driving postgraduate study.
Having only just begun writing this column, I am aware of the unwritten laws governing column writing- hyperbolic statements, generalisations, and outlining categories in a list format. Hence, without further ado, I present to you the eight different types of graduate students:
1. The Wannabe Undergraduate
This student adored their undergraduate life and irrefutably does not want to see it end. They spend more time conversing with undergraduates, propping up the bar and regaling them with tales about their thesis than writing it. They gauge their success not by grades or intellectual recognition but instead by the number of hangovers they collect.
2. The Student who Tried Employment
This postgraduate has been employed in the "real world." They have had a desk, a computer, a paycheque, a lunch break, a pension scheme, performance reviews, and meetings. For some reason, they found it unfulfilling.
3. The Couldn’t-Survive-Anywhere-but-at-University
This group is the most likely to nurture peculiarities- carrying a mouse in their pocket, wearing socks with Marxist slogans- while still under the age of shaving.
4. The CV-Filler
For this student, their primary concern is not the subject area studied. What matters most is how it appears on their CV. Their objective is to gain "that extra edge." They are likely to pursue accountancy or law and never put their studies to use.
5. The Prestigious Scholarship Recipient
This postgraduate is less concerned with how their subject area will complement their CV and more concerned with who is footing the bill. The funding is viewed as an end in itself, and the studying becomes a means to an end- to label oneself a scholar of a specific field for many years to come.
6. The One Who Needs Answers
This student is motivated purely by the desire to receive answers about their specific field of interest.
7. The Eternal Student
This student does not care whether their academic development shows consistent progress. They aim to collect qualifications and append as many letters as possible after their name.
8. The Polymath
These intellectuals could have studied anything, anywhere. They are expected to accomplish great things in multiple disciplines. They are likely to understand your thesis better than you do. Furthermore, they are also disliked because of their charm, wit, and good looks.
As for myself, I would like to think I fall under No.6. However, I must admit; I have some characteristics of No.2 too.
Patrick Tomlin is currently researching a doctorate in political theory at Oxford University. This column of his appears monthly.