Friday, September 28, 2007

Cambridge, Oxford, Cardiff?

I am now fully registered, and on Monday I return to classes for my second year of university. It feels a bit momentous because despite years and years of previous university experience I've never been this directly focused, this likely to actually end up getting a degree.

That, the experiences of last year, and the fact that I need to do better than last year* has me feeling a certain amount of sickness at the moment. And I am brought back to the old feeling that at any minute someone is going to pull me aside and say: "Look, we're sorry for messing you about, but there's been a terrible mistake. We got you confused with JC Cope. Obviously, as even you must have figured out by now, you don't belong here at all."

And I feel even more pressure knowing that I am attending the British equivalent of an Ivy League school. Well, according to Wikipedia.

For our international viewers, U.S. colleges are broken into all kinds of groupings that are mostly used in sport. For example, the child bride's alma mater, University of Minnesota, is a Big Ten university. Very strangely, Big Ten has 11 members. The "Ivy League" is another one of those athletic conferences but the term is also (and perhaps more commonly) used to denote some of the traditionally best universities in the United States, e.g, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale.

According to Wikipedia, the Russell Group of universities "is sometimes referred to as the British equivalent of the Ivy League." And Cardiff University is among them. What the hell am I doing here?

Of course, University of Southampton is also amid that "elite" group, and Southampton will accept anybody.

But I still can't shake that nagging feeling that I am out of my depth and that someone should pull me from the game before I get hurt.

*I passed and since the first year is pass-fail, I shouldn't really spend too much time fussing over particulars. But they don't send geniuses to summer refresher courses, which indicates that there's quite a bit of room for improvement. This is a key issue for me because I have visions of carrying on and earning a master's degree. But to do so, according to the literature, I need to meet a grade minimum of 2.1. For those of you playing along at home, that's not grade point average. The British university grading system doesn't really translate to U.S. terms; there are four levels above passing: 1st degree, 2.1 degree, 2.2 degree and 3rd degree.


Anonymous said...

I think that one of the reasons they make the first year pass/fail is that so much of it is about acclimatising yourself to life at that particular university. Don't know how it is with your course, but my first year I could only take a couple of modules in my actual subject - from the second year I was doing mainly psychology modules and it was therefore much more interesting and easier.
I just about scraped through some of my first year modules, but got a 2.1 in the end anyway - it's do-able.

Also, aren't most of the people on your course native Welsh speakers?

Huw said...

Bear in mind that you are at Uni because you want to be: lots of your peers are there just because they weren't really that sure what else to be doing. That will count for something.

Oh, and from my time marking Uni papers: I'd give out 3rds just for the person writing a side of A4 somewhat related to the subject, so you should be okay.

Unless you get a foreigner marking your papers that is: Monica was apparently failing people left, right and centre until I told her that in our British system of everyone getting a mark somewhere between 52% and 77%, you had to give at least 15% for a correct spelling of their name.

Rob said...

so is that connected with the expression about giving someone "the 3rd degree"?
maybe you could look into this in your copious* free time.

*(har. cope-ious, get it?)

Curly said...

You'll be relieved to know that I attended Southampton Institute, which didn't actually become a fully fledged University until two years after my departure.

The Uni did however, accept my brother - who had worse results in school that I did.