Sunday 18 February 2018

Class of 2013: Are we ready for the real world?

The latest of our entries in an Irish Independent student journalist competition, in association with

Hannah Popham

ABOUT to graduate? It's okay if you don't feel quite ready for the real world, writes Hannah Popham

A lot of us are supposedly a direct celebration of Ireland’s bizarre two-goal triumph which somehow led us to the quarter finals of the World Cup in Rome in June 1990.

And this time four years ago, we went down in Irish educational history as the only Leaving Certificate cohort ever to see an exam and text each other exactly what was on it, only to be outsmarted and forced to sit a different exam paper on a Saturday. Communal cheating - it should have worked! Overcome by stress, I (like many others I can only assume), came home, watched Over the Hedge and slept for the rest of the day. The joke was on us in the end. But as it gears up to our final exam season, is it right to assume that the class of 2013 have all successfully transgressed smoothly into a state of adulthood?

Last week, as I sat mid-row in a dark theatre in Trinity Arts Block, my lecturer began to deviate from the usual “well, you’ve been a pleasure to teach and I’m going to ignore the fact that this is the second lecture I have ever seen some of you in” pleasantries and said something that made me my skin prickle. “I hope you are successful in whatever you all go on to do,” she gushed, “… whatever that may be”(a polite nod to the total absence of a direct career route from an arts degree).

This was it: ‘We’ve sculpted you into educated, hopefully functional (but somewhat pretentious) adults; go and make something of yourself’. Am I a functional adult? I wondered. Are any of the ‘class of 2013’? I had surpassed my twenty second birthday, managed to bounce through eight semesters of a degree and sort of learned how to make myself a somewhat edible dinner. Surely that must count for something?

It’s been completely overdone with sentimental Facebook statuses, but this year has flown by in what has seemed like only a few months. I’m starting to wish that the torturous nine-month gestation period of writing a thesis had gone by just a tiny bit slower, and that I’d have made time for all those beers in the Pav, campus parties and finally gaining access to one of Trinity’s many secret spots which I missed in the name of ‘Responsibility and the Lack of Desire to Be Unemployed.’

Maybe final year assignments are a cheap way of conditioning students for the first years of parenthood: here’s a period of your life that should be the most memorable, in which you will have the least time, money and energy to enjoy it.

We’ve been in college when the Queen popped in to see the Harry Potter library and Barack Obama had pints of Guinness in Offaly. We’ve witnessed Ireland winning the Six Nations, we elected Michael D Higgins as President, and allegedly there was one day last year when the sun actually shined. Now that it is finally time to graduate, what will the class of 2013 have to contribute to society?

Those I know who are organised enough to have a job sorted have been snapped up by the business world; dazzling new shirts and inevitable terror in tow. And as for the rest of us 105,762 beautiful new babies born in Ireland between 1990 and 1991? Just like when we were shiny eighteen year olds, I think there may well be something up our sleeves again.

Hannah Popham is a Sociology student at TCD

If you’re a student who can write concise, topical stories and is deeply engaged in student life, join the Contributors’ Competition and your stories could be published on Ireland’s most popular news website,, this semester.

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