The Non-Academic Student
“Are you a transfer student?”
“No, Sir. I’ve been here since my first year”
“Really? I have never seen you before. What did you say your name was again?”
Having witnessed countless exchanges similar to the above, I am caused to muse over what exactly makes the ‘non-academic student’ tick. It usually begins with a lecturer pointing at someone sitting in the back of the class or stopping the notorious latecomer in his tracks as he attempts to slip into the class unnoticed. Although it is almost impossible to mark out the origin of the term ‘non-academic student’, it has become a widely held nametag for anyone who is generally a very evasive fellow.
The intent of this commentary is not so much to discredit any persons neither is it to justify behaviours believed to be unethical, but to provide a behind-the-scenes-look into the lives of students who appear to be aloof of scholarly activities. Who is the non-academic student? The following are five attributes which characterize the non-academic student:
“You never know the exact number of students in a class until the exam day”
The non-academic student hardly ever shows up in class and when he does, he comes late or makes it a point to be a distraction. He strolls in, shuffling his feet as he makes his way to the back of the class, with a not-a-care-in-the-world expression on his face, much to the amusement and cheers of his friends(for those who have friends. The loner subgroups often attract quiet stares and seem to carry around with them an air of mystery).
Assignments and projects
The non-academic student are almost always never aware of assignment due dates or that the assignments exist in the first place. This ultimately leads to them ‘dubbing’ or ‘photocopying’ their classmates’ work- a practice which infuriates those at the receiving end upon discovery.
Clashes with Lecturers
The non-academic student is more often than not the centripetal locus of criticism and harassment. No matter how “low key” they try to be, they always seem to attract attention to themselves, much to their dismay. Even though most interactions such as the one illustrated at the beginning of this article tend to be quite comical, others happen to be quite serious. Often, a verbal exchange erupts due to an attack on the student’s personality.
Attitude to Studying and Research
Rushing through course material and tenaciously organizing seating arrangements the morning of an exam, hastily scrolling through information on Wikipedia or Encarta Premium…the non-academic student obviously does not take a liking to spending time studying or visiting the school library (most people I know do not even have Library cards).
Some non-academic students are known to always be on guard, ready to justify their actions and decisions even when they are clearly wrong. They can be found giving a lecture on how doing well in school does not really matter, backing up their argument with examples of successful people who either dropped out of or never went to school.
A lecturer once remarked, “You know, I would rather employ some third class students I’ve met before I employ those with first class results. Have you noticed that the richest guys around are not the professors?” You need to have seen the look of triumph on the faces of some of my classmates. What they failed to understand was that he was trying to point out the fact that building capacity is more important than making straight A’s. Even though being book-smart does not guarantee that you will succeed out in the field, one must learn to strike a balance.
The Side of the Non-Academic Student We Hardly Hear About
After pointing all this out, it would seem that students who fall into this category are generally frivolous individuals and possess no good qualities. But there are always two sides to a coin and many are unaware that the non-academic student actually has a good side.
The non-academic student is usually gifted and has the ability to think outside the box. Being assigned group projects nearly every week in the semester, one is almost bowled over by the fact that some of the time, effort or money saving suggestions are made by members of your group whose names you do not even know! Their always-on-the-run disposition does pay off, as with it comes an incredible ability to find a shortcut through almost anything.
The non-academic student sometimes does not intend to come across as nonchalant nor does he enjoy all the “attention” he gets from lecturers or design mentors when he is noticed for the “first time”. I have come to realize that a few of them (mostly due to financial challenges) have to find ways to get by on their own. As such, they get jobs or start up their own small businesses, neither of which affords them the luxury of being able to have a hold on their time (especially those in the former category).