The life cycle of the student

Illustrated by Tiffany Chan

By: Iain Edgar

To some, the student may seem to be a useless organism: a creature devoid of individual thought whose only purpose is to wander through the campus halls, wide-eyed and panicked. Organisms higher up on the food chain, such as professors and TAs, often see students as nothing more than parasites leeching off of them for the knowledge they have carefully gathered over their long careers. However, even these lowly life forms have a place in this ecosystem. In fact, every organism in the university depends on the tuition offered by the students for their existence — even the mighty professors.

The life cycle of the student displays three key variations, each shown in different stages of their university life: early, middle, and late. The first stage of the student life cycle is the early student, characterized by their bright eyes and enthusiasm. These hapless wretches complete their assignments and exams with cheerful exuberance, not yet understanding the toll the harsh university exerts on them. They still have bright ideas about the exciting ecosystems they could migrate to in the future: many speak of medical school and law school with hopeful optimism, not realizing the sad fact that most students never make it to such environments.

The early student leads a fearful life, going from hall to hall in a state of perpetual panic, feeding the ever-hungry professors with essays and regurgitating knowledge on command in the form of exams. There is no respite for them, for at any moment they could be given a new assignment, or suddenly recall the iClicker quiz they forgot they had the next day. Students flit from lecture to lecture, seen in magnificent droves throughout the hallways at key points in the day.

When not out and about, they are found huddled in lecture halls, their listening organs oriented towards the front. The early student has been shown to exhibit a particularly interesting biological adaptation: while their brains may be entirely asleep, their bodies can operate independently, scribbling down notes while they make up for the miniscule amount of sleep they received the night before.

It is around the second or third year that the student enters its next incarnation. Like a doughy caterpillar emerging from a cocoon to become a beautiful butterfly, so too does the early student lose its youthful enthusiasm. In its place forms a dour pessimism, and a dead-eyed shuffle. The lack of sleep along with the constant work have finally taken their toll, and from the ashes of the early student rises the next form: the middle student.

If possible, the middle student procrastinates and puts off even more than the early student, often not even showing up to class, claiming they will simply “retake it in the summer,” as if it were that simple. Many will take on secondary purposes at the university, performing research or providing assistance to the more tolerant professors while engaging in the most menial tasks. This is in the hope that the professor may offer them some evidence that they aren’t as useless as the rest of their kind in the form of a short letter.

The final iteration of the student occurs once they reach the fifth year of life within the university. If possible, this form becomes even more disappointed and withdrawn about their purpose at the university as they approach the end of their fabled “degree.” Often you will find them touting such false statements such as “Einstein failed math in school too,” just to make themselves feel better about their own grades. When this behaviour fails to convince even themselves, the late student will hastily hurtle to the end of their university career with reckless abandon, not realizing that, while the university ecosystem may be dangerous, the outside world is even worse.