This post was written by an external contributor. Lucy Pegg has some tips for anyone who is looking to fill the void that academia leaves behind.
As a student, you might have claimed to hate lectures. You might have dozed your way through half your seminars and skim-read the majority of your books. But a funny thing happens when you graduate – you start to really miss all that stuff.
In the world of work, where everything seems to be about targets, deadlines and who took the last teabag in the staff kitchen, the idea of spending two hours gently discussing postmodern confessional poetry suddenly seems a luxury. You’ll begin to yearn for a heated scholarly debate. You’ll wonder how you can ever reclaim those halcyon days of yore.
Worry no more, for Debut is here to help. Whilst we can’t turn back the clock, we can give you a few nifty tips to reconnect yourself with academia. From podcasts to nerdy Facebook groups, there are so many ways to put yourself back in the seminar room.
Download some podcasts
Choose the right series and a podcast basically becomes a lecture you can listen to on your commute. Pop in your headphones and you can relieve being a student again, except you have a salary and not a student loan.
Your listening options are endless; the New Yorker Fiction podcast will take you straight back to an English seminar, whilst the BBC’s Infinite Monkey Cage covers everything science via the medium of academics, comedians and Brian Cox. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg; there are thousands more out there to explore.
Find some free (or cheap) lectures
Even though you’re used to paying £9,250 a year for your lectures, there are plenty which are free of charge. Most universities hold public lectures quite frequently and everyone is welcome. Just look at your local universities websites to see what’s on – for example, the London School of Economics host a whole hoard of events that can be found here.
But you don’t have to go back to campus to hear a lecture. They’re often held in casual settings, from bookshops to cafes to bars, and if there is an entry fee its likely to be under £5. Check on Facebook or at likely local venues – if you’re in Nottingham, the independent Five Leaves Bookshop’s talks are here.
There’s no reading list being emailed to you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go back to books. If you want to feel all academic, why not try reading non-fiction or even scholarly texts again? If you want to start slowly, decide what topics you’re interested in, then check out the bestsellers in that area. They’re likely to be engaging and accessible, whilst still giving you the facts.
If you want to try something more strictly academic, your local library makes a good starting point, as those books you were citing in your essays don’t come cheap. Most importantly though, dive in with enthusiasm – if you get bored, confused, or just lazy, move on to something else. Now it’s not compulsory, reading should be an escape from work stress, rather than a chore itself.
Nowadays, it seems that social media is the answer to everything. Perhaps social media was how you procrastinated during your degree, but now it can be a gentle, casual way to ease yourself back into the academic world. Think about following the lecturers you loved on Twitter, or tracking down other academics whose work you remember enjoying. TV academics can be a good starting point – I follow classicist Mary Beard and Horrible Histories historian Greg Jenner.
If you’re looking for discussion and a like-minded community, finding a Facebook could be the way forward. With the internet being as vast as it is, you can get very niche here, whether geographically (perhaps a Facebook group for historians that are based in your county) or comedically (yes, I am embarrassingly in a group called ‘I found it on JSTOR’ that consists entirely of critical theory memes).
You might not technically be a student anymore, but that doesn’t mean your days of study have to be completely behind you. If you’re missing academia it’s simple to get back into it – and now without the need to write a 3000 word essay afterwards.