For a lot of us, University is a place to hone our skills relating to a particular subject. Whether you’re studying Geography, Science, English, Art, or any other subject, you probably have a particular area of interest that you want to explore while earning your degree.
But what happens when your University course doesn’t quite allow for it? What if the thing you really want to look into isn’t something your lecturers are particularly knowledgeable about?
I’m currently undertaking a Creative Writing Masters, continuing on from my undergraduate degree in the same subject and now I’m looking to produce more writing in different forms than in my undergrad degree. The Masters course allows more freedom than Undergraduate did, and as such, I was keen to try out new writing methods; for example, writing for graphic novels. But the problem I have is that the lecturers on my course don’t have a background in graphic novels. While I’m sure they’d be more than happy to look over my drafts, I can’t help but feel like I should instead be getting the advice of someone who knows more about the subject.
“Just as a method of getting advice, asking questions, and maybe having someone look over a proposal or draft, it could be very useful”
I’m sure I’m not the only person on a course who has an interest in something their lecturers aren’t so well-versed in. It probably happens just as much in more academic courses as it does in creative ones, but that doesn’t make it any easier. How can we learn to pursue our passions if we can’t get quite the right feedback from our lecturers?
As far as I can tell, there’s a simple solution to this. Well, simple in theory, anyway. That simple solution is networking.
Why aren’t more Universities looking to pair up with one another and network among each other? I would love to see some sort of system where University courses are twinned with another University offering the same course so that those lecturers can come together and help each other and the students. That means that if a student wants to do a project on a particular area of interest, the lecturers at their University aren’t as familiar with, they might be able to recommend another lecturer in the network who might have some advice.
Of course, this idea has its complications. The assessments and such would probably still have to be marked in the student’s University. But just as a method of getting advice, asking questions, and maybe having someone look over a proposal or draft, it could be very useful indeed. We’re always being told to put ourselves out there and network, and for a lot of us we have no idea where to start. This solution could help jumpstart that process for some people and could be the push they need to contact people from other Universities or in slightly different disciplines to discuss work. It could also lead to projects being created between two or more universities, with students across the country working on new ideas together.
I’m not suggesting that this is a solution that would work for everybody, and I’m sure there’s at least one person who thinks this is a ridiculous idea, but as far as I’m concerned this is no different to working in the real world. All the time, professors and lecturers contact each other for help on academic papers and to discuss research. Doctors discuss the merits of various medical advances, medications, and new surgical procedures. What’s to say that University students shouldn’t be able to network in similar ways, particularly when it’s for University work that could one day become a career?
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