Don’t Grow a wishbone where you should have a backbone…..

Today matters.

Your arrival at University is not the end of a journey, it is the beginning.

In three years time, your family will be joining you to celebrate your graduation. You sit here today privileged by the sacrifices they have made to get you here. When you joined your University, you assumed responsibility for your destiny. You have to step up and ACT, there is no one to do it for you any more. Your families have done their bit. Now its your turn.


1) At university, the lectures and seminars are simply the launch pad. The real work happens in the library, where you have to teach yourself. Thats why they call it reading for a degree.

A Graduate = Self Teaching Agent of Change

2) Decisions aren’t easy, decisions are acts of will. Expect to have to force yourself to have to do things. “Don’t grow a wish bone where you should have a back bone”
3) Learning is a dirty unpleasant business.



Today you commit to developing a habit. Your habit as a student.


Here’s the truth about the habits you set up now:

Stagnation: [Fail]

Watch people taking notes, ignore what you don’t understand, focus on your social life, convince yourself that your lecturers are the enemy. You know every pub in town and have no idea how to take a book out of the library.

In assessments, answer a different question to the one asked. You assume that someone else will step in and help you with the confusion you are wallowing in. You are not a victim in this, you made a choice not to find help. You will have spent 3 years and £27,000 utterly committed to being exactly the same as when you arrived on campus for the first time.

Resignation: [Third Class or Ordinary]

You wish you took effective notes, but at least you notice people studying around you. Your social life is exhausting and you struggle to fit in enough study. You know there are deadlines coming, but have a clearer idea about the next social event you have planned. You are more likely to discuss Hello Magazine or Football or Xfactor rather than reading from your course. You know other people on your course.

In assessments, you are relieved that you have an answer and proud you handed things in on time. You convince yourself that if you blow out your cheeks and appear to have made an effort, then hope your lecturers will appreciate the effort and mark kindly.

Oscillation: [Lower Second Class]

You oscillate between “perspiration” and “resignation”. You wish you could force yourself to work harder, but somehow something always distracts you.

Your notes live in a file and are there when you need them and especially near deadlines. You struggle to find books you want because all the “keenos” are hogging them. You are more likely to discuss the performance of the lecturer and then engage frantic activity in the run up to deadlines.

In assessments, you try to guess the answer the lecturer wants to hear and you deploy the big words charade in the hope that you will appear to know what you are talking about. You use references like smarties on a cake and dot your writing with a sprinkling of citations of approximately matching colours. When your work is read, it comes across as a little thin and lacking substance.

Perspiration: [Upper Second Class]

You take notes and keep lists of concepts you need to understand. You know the lecturers and they seem to know you. You exchange emails with the lecturers and work hard to keep on top of the concepts of your course. you know the library inside out, read some journals and sometimes sacrifice your social life to sort out a problem with your work. You have network of people on your course who work hard and support each other.

In assessments you write your own thoughts, from an informed point of view. You are able to cite key texts and sources without needing to reread them. You have the confidence to write your own answer. You understand your discipline.

You have earned your degree through hard work.

Inspiration + Perspiration: [First Class]

You are dedicated to becoming a master of your discipline. You are relentless in your pursuit of new knowledge and solving problems you have in your understanding. You are on easy, first name terms with your lecturers. Your notes are thorough and form more of an action plan rather than a record of what was said. You regularly make sacrifices in order to study and attend extra enrichment events relating to your discipline. You can teach yourself.

In assessments, your answers are inspired as a consequence of the perspiration and shifts you have put in at the library. Your hard work has led you to profound thoughts which made your lecturer smile when they marked it.


2 thoughts on “Don’t Grow a wishbone where you should have a backbone…..

  1. Pingback: Welcome to their field of dreams. A responsibility and a privilege | The Grinch Manifesto

  2. Pingback: Connoisseurs of learning | Oliver Quinlan

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