I have just finished the final year of my BA. I will be continuing straight into a Masters in September, so it is like I have not really finished. Nevertheless, as happens every year, people assume that I now have a huge, long summer holiday to enjoy and that I have nothing to do.
Despite explaining that this is not the case, I am still met with the same, “Have you finished for Summer yet?”, question every single year. This year I was comforted to see that it is not just me – #AcademicSummer began trending on Twitter and Dr Chris Millington wrote a brilliant post covering a lecturer’s role in addition to teaching.
Chris explained that he replies to this question with ‘Well, I’ve stopped teaching but I’m still working’, and that is “met with a look of confusion.” – that look of confusion is so familiar to me. People cannot understand that you have things to do even when not in lectures. Even last year, when I spent the Summer reading for my dissertation and visiting archives… people referred to me as being ‘on holiday’ for a few months.
Granted, my situation does not come close to a lecturer’s workload. That is not a comparison I am trying to make. I do not have to go into the university, and technically, as I am not being paid I could do nothing all Summer (although this would mean stepping away from a number of existing commitments… and I would struggle with my studies next year).
However, it is important for people to realise that students are not just sitting in front of Netflix or on social media for their entire Summer. Many students have to work, others conduct research, and some have voluntary commitments.
In response to this, I am going to document what I do in July and August. I am not expecting the outcome to rival anyone in full-time employment, and of course, it won’t come anywhere near the volume of tasks expected from my lecturers. It will, however, aim to show that students are busy with many important and useful things over the summer months.
A final caveat is that I love what I do, and long may it continue (subject to funding and eventual academic employment!). Although, the perception of what students actually do needs some updating.