Studenthood is like travelling with the Doctor

Last Saturday evening I fulfilled one of my regular fatherly duties and sat down to watch Doctor Who with my 11 year old son.

The storyline was the usual mix of the Doctor defeating some ugly looking monsters in another world saving escapade. Everything tied up in 45 minutes of hammy acting, psychic paper and pseudo scientific gobbledygook.

But for once Doctor Who actually broached a more serious subject.


The adventures of the current assistant Amy Pond with the eleventh Doctor. Photo: Alun.vega via Flickr

What happens to the Doctor’s companion once they give up the life of a Time Lord sidekick? One minute you’re at the centre of regular battles with the forces of darkness. Defeating Daleks, confounding Cybermen and sorting out the Sontarans. Next minute, you’re unceremoniously dumped back on Earth and have to readjust to the mundane life that is the destiny of the majority of the human race.

Somehow this doesn’t seem fair to the sidekick. They have had their horizons broadened and their minds opened to a universe of infinite possibilities. They have travelled through time and space. For what? To spend the rest of their lives marooned on an insignificant planet whose dominant race can barely travel into orbit. Anyone but a fictional character would find that intolerable.

Does all this sound familiar to you? If you change Time Lord to university and sidekick to student then you are getting my drift.

We students spend three years having our minds opened up to new possibilities and learning new skills. All in preparation for us to forge new and exciting careers in the real world. Unfortunately the real world can be a very dull place.

One example of this is “Bill”, which is not his real name, who earned a BA and an MA from the University of Lincoln. Today this young man works in a call centre and feels lucky to have his job. The job isn’t exciting nor is it remotely related to what he studied for five long years. But it’s a job and he’s smart enough not to turn his nose up at a regular income. Yet he’s not happy. Not happy that after all that effort, learning and achievement he’s doing a drudge job in a call centre.

“Bill” isn’t alone. There’s a vast army of graduates out there doing any job that comes along. They may be just surviving but that isn’t exactly what they signed up for when they decided to go to university.

What are the possible consequences of a growing army of intelligent, well educated and highly dissatisfied people? It sounds like a recipe for social unrest, civil disobedience and revolution. If our society fails to provide challenging and rewarding employment for such people, can we blame them for wanting to change the society that spawned them?

— Photo via alun.vega on Flickr, where you can see more of his Doctor Who photography.

One Response to Studenthood is like travelling with the Doctor

  1. Marc says:

    Why do you think half of us come to university in the first place – especially those of us who’ve already had mundane full-time jobs? It’s a shameless, alcohol-soaked attempt at denying reality while parasitically taking money from others.

    By the way, Doctor Who is great stuff.