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Mature student here (42), surprised at how flaky students are, how to deal?

Currently studying an MA, really quite surprised and disappointed by the behaviour of other students e.g. not reading, not studying, not turning up, leaving everything until the last minute, hardly even very interested in the subject. It's got me a little down, especially when it comes to any kind of team or group assignment. There are a few here who are doing their second Master's and they still have very poor organisational skills or willingness to take initiative.

Have there been others who have experienced this? How does this kind of environment/situation typically play out? I don't want to look like the bookworm of the class just because I take it seriously !
I've certainly seen it as a mature undergraduate. I remember one of my art history seminars we got split into groups to discuss the readings and literally nobody else had done them...

I'm maybe a little surprised to hear it at masters level (especially given the often out of pocket costs involved in those compared to undergraduate courses for home students!) but it's probably much the same.

I'd say just focus on yourself and engage with things as much as you can - ultimately they're just hurting themselves and while it's frustrating when in e.g. discussion sections or for group work, you can maximise your own outcomes at least.

Also usually group work assignments have some facility to highlight when people aren't engaging/doing the work and to avoid students being "dragged down" by that. Talk to the module leader in the first instance if you are having that situation.
Reply 2
Original post by artful_lounger
I've certainly seen it as a mature undergraduate. I remember one of my art history seminars we got split into groups to discuss the readings and literally nobody else had done them...

I'm maybe a little surprised to hear it at masters level (especially given the often out of pocket costs involved in those compared to undergraduate courses for home students!) but it's probably much the same.

I'd say just focus on yourself and engage with things as much as you can - ultimately they're just hurting themselves and while it's frustrating when in e.g. discussion sections or for group work, you can maximise your own outcomes at least.

Also usually group work assignments have some facility to highlight when people aren't engaging/doing the work and to avoid students being "dragged down" by that. Talk to the module leader in the first instance if you are having that situation.

Yes exactly - since half the class are internationals, it's an expensive investment at this level. You'd think that would be a motivator,

It's not everyone though. There are a few who take the course seriously, and just struggle with the organisational part of it. That's totally understandable. It's the ones that don't even try, don't go to the library and pick up a book or initiate anything and expect the lecturer to do all the work. This is really frustrating and not at all the environment I expected.

I'm not the kind to complain and get someones chops bust either. My strategy is, if someone doesn't pull their load in group work to just shrug and get on with it. Then when we reach the deadline and they're all struggling and squabbling, ignore everything and work on my other modules. This seems to have worked so far!
Original post by rsingh112
Currently studying an MA, really quite surprised and disappointed by the behaviour of other students e.g. not reading, not studying, not turning up, leaving everything until the last minute, hardly even very interested in the subject. It's got me a little down, especially when it comes to any kind of team or group assignment. There are a few here who are doing their second Master's and they still have very poor organisational skills or willingness to take initiative.

Have there been others who have experienced this? How does this kind of environment/situation typically play out? I don't want to look like the bookworm of the class just because I take it seriously !

Hi,

I would try not to worry about it, I know it can be frustrating but you will find it on every course, no matter what level, but also remember that some people may have things going on at home that could be affecting them.

In my first year there were only a handful of people on my course that interacted with the lectures and most of them either didn't return the next year or had to repeat the year. Now I'm in my 3rd year and I would say 3/4 of the class now all interact with the lecturers/lectures.

All you can do is focus on your own work ethic, and speak to a lecturer if someone who is in your group project isn't getting involved and doing the work. They will be able to help with the situation.

Enjoy your course.

-Victoria
Wrexham Uni Rep
Reply 4
I can't hack lazy *******s and if someone isn't pulling their weight with me, I tell them, to their face, that they are lazy *******s.
(edited 3 months ago)
Reply 5
Original post by WrexhamUniReps
Hi,

I would try not to worry about it, I know it can be frustrating but you will find it on every course, no matter what level, but also remember that some people may have things going on at home that could be affecting them.

In my first year there were only a handful of people on my course that interacted with the lectures and most of them either didn't return the next year or had to repeat the year. Now I'm in my 3rd year and I would say 3/4 of the class now all interact with the lecturers/lectures.

All you can do is focus on your own work ethic, and speak to a lecturer if someone who is in your group project isn't getting involved and doing the work. They will be able to help with the situation.

Enjoy your course.

-Victoria
Wrexham Uni Rep

Hello Victoria, thanks for your post. It's nice to find someone else who's been through the same thing!

This has only been an inconvenience as the current group work we have been assigned has been limited to mocks. Next semester however we will be required to work in a group for a graded assignment.

I'm dreading this. The other students don't read, don't listen, only do something if it is pretty much instructed. Our practice group was just tragic. I was amazed at how little they were able to take the course seriously, they couldn't stop mucking around.

Maybe a tutor can swap the module around or maybe not, but it doesn't feel comfortable to be the only student on the course to take it seriously. Apart from the lecturers but they're paid to do that!
Reply 6
Original post by gjd800
I can't hack lazy *******s and if someone isn't pulling their weight with me, I tell them, to their face, that they are lazy *******s.

This doesn't seem to work either. I've never been aggressive, but when it's made clear by myself or the lecturer that they have to study, actually understand the topic at hand, not just throw out opinions without validation or criticality, they can be quite taken aback. When you ask what reading they have done which supports their findings, what theorist or authority has brought this to light or which study, they won't have a clue. That's because they've just made it up. We're 3 months into the course now and this still happens. How do they expect to write a dissertation without citations?

Some don't necessarily lack initiative, they might lack how to assert themselves. Others might not realise they are expected to take responsibility for their learning too. So it's no use shouting at them if this hasn't hit home yet. Most people tend to "go with the flow" when you think about it. I'm not trying to be nasty, but it can be excruciating when a lecturer has given a solid talk about a legitimately interesting topic, and then at the end someone says "Sir is this on the test?"
Original post by rsingh112
Hello Victoria, thanks for your post. It's nice to find someone else who's been through the same thing!

This has only been an inconvenience as the current group work we have been assigned has been limited to mocks. Next semester however we will be required to work in a group for a graded assignment.

I'm dreading this. The other students don't read, don't listen, only do something if it is pretty much instructed. Our practice group was just tragic. I was amazed at how little they were able to take the course seriously, they couldn't stop mucking around.

Maybe a tutor can swap the module around or maybe not, but it doesn't feel comfortable to be the only student on the course to take it seriously. Apart from the lecturers but they're paid to do that!

If you start to experience difficulty in your next semester with your group project speak to your module tutor because they should be able to do something about it.

I would suggest trying to take some sort of charge of the group if you feel your teammates are not really pulling their weight. for example you could split the project into different tasks and get everyone to choose which task they would like to do and then bring it all together. Have regular check in meetings to make sure people know what they are doing, maybe make a whatsapp group for the people in your group.

These are just things that I found helpful, if you find anything else that works for you, please share.

Good luck

-Victoria
Wrexham Uni Reps
Put your head down and ignore what other folk are doing. You're better than that.
Reply 9
Original post by rsingh112
This doesn't seem to work either. I've never been aggressive, but when it's made clear by myself or the lecturer that they have to study, actually understand the topic at hand, not just throw out opinions without validation or criticality, they can be quite taken aback. When you ask what reading they have done which supports their findings, what theorist or authority has brought this to light or which study, they won't have a clue. That's because they've just made it up. We're 3 months into the course now and this still happens. How do they expect to write a dissertation without citations?

Some don't necessarily lack initiative, they might lack how to assert themselves. Others might not realise they are expected to take responsibility for their learning too. So it's no use shouting at them if this hasn't hit home yet. Most people tend to "go with the flow" when you think about it. I'm not trying to be nasty, but it can be excruciating when a lecturer has given a solid talk about a legitimately interesting topic, and then at the end someone says "Sir is this on the test?"

I don't think I ever raised my voice to a peer, but I did tell a couple that they were wasting their and my time.
Reply 10
Original post by ErasistratusV
Put your head down and ignore what other folk are doing. You're better than that.

We have to work together in groups.
Reply 11
Original post by WrexhamUniReps
If you start to experience difficulty in your next semester with your group project speak to your module tutor because they should be able to do something about it.

I would suggest trying to take some sort of charge of the group if you feel your teammates are not really pulling their weight. for example you could split the project into different tasks and get everyone to choose which task they would like to do and then bring it all together. Have regular check in meetings to make sure people know what they are doing, maybe make a whatsapp group for the people in your group.

These are just things that I found helpful, if you find anything else that works for you, please share.

Good luck

-Victoria
Wrexham Uni Reps

This is master's level - there's no hand holding. If they decide to google articles instead of reading journals, use their own opinion instead of look at data, or turn up to class 2 hours late - that's their decision as adults. No one can force them to take responsibility.

Whatsapp was not good in my experience. It works in theory, but there is too much temptation for individuals to start communicating directly outside of the group chat, and start developing their own sub-groups, which is exactly what happened last time. Also, the only thing they posted in the chat was memes. My lesson was only do an online group if you trust them.

Another thing was leading a group - managing others is a lot of work. People will expect a huge amount from you as a leader and not offer much in return. Instead, doing less than others and letting them set the benchmark feels more appropriate here.
Original post by rsingh112
Currently studying an MA, really quite surprised and disappointed by the behaviour of other students e.g. not reading, not studying, not turning up, leaving everything until the last minute, hardly even very interested in the subject. It's got me a little down, especially when it comes to any kind of team or group assignment. There are a few here who are doing their second Master's and they still have very poor organisational skills or willingness to take initiative.

Have there been others who have experienced this? How does this kind of environment/situation typically play out? I don't want to look like the bookworm of the class just because I take it seriously !

Hi I turned 44 the week I started my undergrad degree in September im finding its a mixed bag. We have about 47 in our cohort and I think we are yet to have more than 30 attend at any time and that even includes the online learning where you literally just have to open a laptop.
Original post by Kellie_google
Hi I turned 44 the week I started my undergrad degree in September im finding its a mixed bag. We have about 47 in our cohort and I think we are yet to have more than 30 attend at any time and that even includes the online learning where you literally just have to open a laptop.


That is studentdom for you I'm afraid. You can see the same in probably any workplace if you look hard enough.

To be completely honest with you, I think for a proportion of young people -recent school leavers at any rate- electing to enter University is a decision made slightly prematurely. A good few students mind are totally focused and set on their career path and education- people who took school/A levels seriously enough and who have a firm goal as to where they want to go, fair play to them. But for some I think the decision would be better made when they are a year or two older maybe after gap years or time in the workplace as University is a big commitment and it is very difficult to make that kind of decision at 18. The cost of tertiary education is also only going to go one way and it effectively enters you into an additional tax on your earnings for the bulk of your adult life.
lol i am a typical age undergrad and admit i can be flaky. largely from other deadlines to meet and fear of failure and silly things. Ik this sounds dumb cos it's not primary school or something, but you are really leading by example. ppl will expect more from u as you're more mature, and you just have to live up to that and stick to your guns, even if everyone else is being annoying. hopefully the others will come to respect you and be improved by your example
Reply 15
Original post by steamedclams
lol i am a typical age undergrad and admit i can be flaky. largely from other deadlines to meet and fear of failure and silly things. Ik this sounds dumb cos it's not primary school or something, but you are really leading by example. ppl will expect more from u as you're more mature, and you just have to live up to that and stick to your guns, even if everyone else is being annoying. hopefully the others will come to respect you and be improved by your example

That's fine, there's nothing wrong with struggling with deadlines and the such, that's normal. I understand it's part of the learning process to develop as a learner, you don't start as the best. Problem is with my cohort, they don't seem to be aware of the basics i.e. you're not allowed to copy out of a textbook or ask to look at my notes, copy them and call it "research". I never see them in the library or doing their own reading, which is absolutely essential at this level of study. And they aren't bothered with building industry links either. It really is an eye-opener - when I asked if other middle-aged people were on the course, the programme leader talked about people with thorough and seasoned backgrounds, even business owners. The reality of being put with students who are just there for the ride especially for mandatory group work is not enjoyable and I need to focus on this if I'm going to survive next semester.

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