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Occupational hazards at university

By Emma
Occupational hazards at university

The dangers of learning at university

Once you get the hang of it, independent learning is actually quite cool. For the first time in 13 years of institutionalised education, you’re completely free to learn when and how you choose*.

But beware; the road to educational freedom is paved with occupational hazards.

Book Induced Narcolepsy (BIN)

Book induced narcolepsy is the silent productivity-killer that lurks in even the most bright and cheery corners of your university library.  One minute you’ll be fine, feeling as bright and alert as a TV Meerkat, the next you’ll find yourself battling fatigue in a struggle to keep your eyes open and make it past the first page.

Mindless Scan Syndrome (MSS)

MSS is perhaps the most frustrating of all the library-related disorders. Sufferers will find themselves gripped with an uncharacteristic passion for learning. They will consume page after page, confident that their evening trip to the pub will be hard-earned and well-deserved. It’s not until the book is finally closed that sufferers realise they have absolutely no recollection of anything that they just read. 

Paper Cuts

An unavoidable consequence of wildly rifling through notes before seminars or exams. Surprisingly painful.

Library Fights

No matter how non-violent you are in principle, competition for resources will drive even the staunchest hippies to engage in ugly book brawls. There are never as many copies of the books on the reading list as there are students, and to make matters worse, there’s always one precocious geek who will check out the entire list weeks in advance, making it clear that they have done so at any given opportunity.


Referencing sounds like it should be easy enough, but it’s this kind of thinking that gets unwitting freshers into trouble.

Which referencing system should you even be using? The one with the footnotes, or the one with the brackets? Is it possible to plagiarise yourself? Do footnotes count in the word count? What’s the difference between a reading list and a bibliography?

No, we don’t know either.

*Admittedly, most first years choose to do as little work as physically and mentally possible until revision time, but for those who do give it a go, independent learning is liberating, refreshing, and dare we say it, really rather exciting (cue nerd snigger).

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