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Wakey wakey – adulting (and wonk-ing) for beginners

Many universities offer programmes in addition to core curricula to enable students to acquire additional skills and to help them stand out in the employment market place. But what if there were such a course for 'wonk skills'?
This article is more than 3 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

Many universities offer programmes in addition to core curricula to enable students to acquire additional skills and to help them stand out in the employment market place. See, for example, the Nottingham Advantage Award.

However, there other approaches and I must admit to being more than slightly amused by this list of things every student should know how to do by graduation. The flavour of this particular course at East Carolina University is a distinctive one, focusing on “resilience, stress management, and mindfulness”:

Rachel Ginsberg, a clinical psychologist with the program, recommends certain “exposure tasks” to students that target specific skills or common sources of anxiety. “These tasks help them validate themselves and not be scared to ask for what they want,” Ginsberg says, adding “In essence, these tasks help to shrink anxiety and avoidance down to size.”

Here’s the list then. There are some bizarre items on it, a few of which do suggest that higher education should be a a bit more like a Swiss finishing school.

Here are 21 of the “adulting” skills that students learn in these programs:

1. Identify your current emotion and explain it to someone
2. Delay gratification—do the task you don’t want to do first
3. Turn in an assignment that you know is not perfect
4. Ask for clarification about part of an assignment
5. Ask a question in class about a part of the topic that’s confusing to you
6. Order a meal, but then change your order
7. Find a group of students you don’t know and ask them a question
8. Change a tire
9. Use deep breathing and other relaxation exercises during a stressful moment
10. Schedule your own doctor and dentist appointments
11. Make your bed—and learn to fold a fitted sheet
12. Stick to a sleep schedule that includes at least seven hours of sleep per night
13. Cook a day’s worth of meals—no eggs, cereal, or pasta allowed
14. Return an item to a store
15. Wake up to an alarm
16. Pay your bills on time
17. Patch a hole in a wall
18. Build a budget and stick to it
19. Be able to compare various credit card, debit card, and loan offers
20. File important personal paperwork in a safe place
21. Change a car’s oil

Inspired by this it seemed appropriate to draw up a similar list of skills required if ever there were to be a comparable course in wonkery. So, here is a selection of suggested Wonkhe Wonk Skills for Full Wonkhood:

1. Pronounce a random list of sector agencies correctly.
2. Get blocked on Twitter by Andrew Adonis.
3. Being twitchy when the Wonkhe Monday Morning Briefing is slightly late.
4. Have visited at least 75 UK universities.
5. Understanding “commencement” section of legislation (courtesy of D Kernohan).
6. Use of VLOOKUP in MS Excel (also courtesy of D Kernohan).
7. Explaining the RAB charge in under thirty seconds.
8. Able to list the last ten HE ministers.
9. Saying “and ninthly” in a presentation (thank you J Rich).
10. Watching out for universities when on holiday abroad.

Any other suggestions welcome.

3 responses to “Wakey wakey – adulting (and wonk-ing) for beginners

  1. You’ve got to be followed on Twitter by at least 3 on the wonkhe power list or by 5 wonkhe regular contributors

  2. One fundamental skill is perfecting the half-grimace slightly pained expression that communicates “kind-of-yes-but-also-no-and-probably-not-for-the-reasons-you-think-it’s-actually-quite-complicated-but-I-doubt-you-have-the-time-and/or-inclination-to-listen-to-the-full-explanation” in response to any sweeping generalisation or claim.

  3. You’ve got to know the True Crime blog & own a copy of the book.
    Have booked tickets to wonkfest
    Or, failing all of the above, work for HESA

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