As a student, people are likely to have a preconceived notion about me -- that I have less than 12 hours of lectures a week, I don't go to half of them, go out drinking every night of the week and expect my education to be completely free and funded by the State.
It's only natural to jump to that conclusion and, in fact, I only have about eight hours of lectures a week, and like every section of society, there are party-ers, dossers and over-privileged individuals who expect everything to be handed to them.
Yes, the stereotypical student does live among us.
However, in my early 20s, I already know what I must do to even catch a glimpse of the goals I want to achieve and you can be sure that it takes a lot more than going to college eight hours a week.
My chosen career path requires a colossal amount of extra-curricular activities and a portfolio fit to burst, something that we student journalists must build on our own.
With the number of jobs out there decreasing dramatically, virtually every employer will look at your perfectly impressive honours degree and simply respond: "What else have you got?"
It's a competitive world beyond the university doors; kill or be killed, and we're all fighting in the same pool to prove ourselves beyond our degree.
For journalism and communication students, it's mostly a battle for bylines in the papers and airtime on the radio. We all have to prove we can write, edit, deliver a message, manage a team, and know all the good ideas, all while trying to pull an honours degree out of the bag.
cHORE I don't resent the extra work I've done during my time in college. My own parents think I take on too much, and that I should say no occasionally. But, to be fair, mostly I don't see it as a chore, or a means to an ends (although ultimately that's what it is). It's something I want to do. I want to work on the college paper, or be on the college radio station, or a member of those societies. Yes, that means working on a lot of different 'part-time jobs' for free, and when it comes to money, you're often caught between deserving the money and knowing that hundreds of your peers will gladly take your place for free. How far into the unpaid internships and extra work experience and weekend shifts and society work and students' union participation, do we have to go to achieve the seemingly impossible?
On top of all that, most students will be expected to get 'a real job' to subsidise their college funds. No harm I say, once you can find one.
In my final year, a lecturer advised us to quit our jobs or significantly reduce our hours because there is too much work in our course to maintain both. I understood why. He is on the side of our education and, of course, in an ideal world we would dedicate all our time to our degree and nothing else.
But, in an ideal world, the country wouldn't be in recession, there'd be enough jobs for everyone and it wouldn't rain all through our summers.
The fact is this is not an ideal world. In this world, students do have to work hard on their degrees. They also have to seek part-time work, as many hours as they can to maintain a steady cash flow. They also have to keep up a number of extra-curricular activities, work experiences and society memberships, for 'a well-rounded college experience'.
People who look at students as wasters should make no mistake about two things: that it is a struggle to maintain all of those thing at once and have any social life (yes, we are allowed to have fun), and that we usually want to push ourselves that much because it's related to what we want to do later in life.
It is a balancing act between having to work on all these other things outside your degree to get a career, and simply wanting to take them up because it's what you love doing.
Most students are not sitting around with closed books drinking their study days away. There are always a few wasters, dossers, people who just don't care or don't bother.
I'm not looking for sympathy for all the students who work so hard and do six or seven different things for free just to get ahead; merely asking to spare a thought; because in these uncertain times, we all have to work that little bit harder and do that little bit more to prove ourselves, and the youth of today are no different.