Right, that is an attention grabbing headline isn’t it? Especially since if you Google the phrase “working class and university”, you are apparently told.
According to Peter Brant, we working classes don’t know how to eat properly and never attend galleries or museums, apparently because we’re too busy sitting under a canal bridge binge drinking a bottle of white lightening.
But let’s face it, being working class, we don’t expect to go to University, hell I never expected to do a degree in the first place, and I’m still the first person in my entire family to go to one.
In the middle classes, let’s take about them since I did link to that article, let me present you with the hypothetical Tamsin and Rupert. Who are raised in their suburban bourgeoisie neighbourhoods, with their indoor swimming pools, private lessons…and they expect to go to University since its part of their parent’s masterplan for them.
Go to University get a good mark and straight after you graduate, daddy has a friend in the city who works at Canary Wharf, where you can get work experience, and don’t worry about fees and loans, because we will pay for everything.
And on the opposite side of this spectrum, are the working classes or in some people’s eyes the peasants.
Imagine working your ass off to get into Uni. Yet constantly made to feel like you don’t fit in. Winchester really didn’t care about us fitting it, but perhaps things have changed. But imagine working every hour God sends you, since your student loan, which you will be paying off for the next three decades doesn’t go that far.
And just imagine the utter insensitivity of your peers, who have no idea how hard you have it and have no qualms doing sod all three years. Since you learn very early, that is not about the job that you can get, but the connections that you already have, in place…before you even step on the Campus.
Being working class, we have no connections, aside from what we can find, but at least we’re motivated, but I have no idea how it was for everyone else, but I was an outsider, and there was nothing I could do about it.
The worst moment that summed up people’s attitudes towards me was when I was in an English lecture, and one of the students mentioned the phrase “hoi polloi”, in a derogatory way. Since these two words were words I had never heard before so, I asked him to give an example. This was it
“It’s like the working classes, going to University to better themselves.”
(Hint: No it isn’t. I looked it up later.)
And here was my answer, “Oh, so you mean, people like me”,
I did appreciate the silence that fell the lecture as this stuck up asshole realised he had gone too far, as he mumbled an apology, coming to the realisation he was rubbing shoulders with the working classes. However, even though we were in the same sphere, well you can’t quit something you’ve never belonged too.
The reason University is never in the Masterplan of the working classes isn’t because our parents don’t care about our education. Far from it, as working class, you are only a few steps from the “Underclass”, which is a polite way of really saying it.
You know the type and the stereotype, foul mouth assholes who breed like rabbits, give their kids stupid names, have the British Taxpayer pay for their offspring while they never take responsibility for their lives.
But for the working classes, you are aware that it could be you very easily, and keeping a house, putting food on the table, working hard to provide for your family does take priority. However my parents were big on education, so I know how lucky I was in the great scheme of things, and I was prepared to work hard to get what I wanted.
But just because I got accepted into University does not mean I had an easy ride of it.
The moment I stepped in, I was an outsider, out of my element, out of my peer group and surrounded by people who just didn’t get understand.
Let’s face it, there is nothing like a housemate who dreams of being the next Tiesto, keeps you up all night, playing his decks…and burns your kitchen down
And a housemate who one day asks why you work forty hours a week and study, and you’re so tired the only response you have is “Because I want to buy luxuries like bread and milk”.
I spent four years in Winchester, and I never felt like I fitted in, I was too old to be a normal student but didn’t count as a mature one and I left University with dreams that never came to fruition, because I had to do the sensible thing and get a job to pay off my debts.
Welcome to my life ten years later.
You know, perhaps I’m hard on myself. One of the things my sister R, did when we were in Spain last month, was give me a list of my positives. And it wasn’t the cocktails talking; I just have a habit of being negative at times.
So with this in mind, and a desire to change my path, I applied for a Masters Degree …and I got accepted. Which I will go into more detail later, but not bad for a “hoi polloi.”