University is depicted in modern culture as the gateway to personal discovery and development. Never again in your life will you have as much freedom and opportunity bestowed upon you as there is right now. Unless you truly have spent all your money on alcohol, you are living in comfortable squalor. The space for self discovery is wide open – you can enrich your studies with extra-curricular sports and activities, you can debate the intricate matters of the universe with your peers at the pub and you can even find time to learn a new language. University sounds amazing.
But is it really? Unless you truly do possess super powers, university is not a place where you can have your cake and eat it too.
Firstly, like many students you might be struggling to find money to pay the bills or rent. On top of that there are tuition fees, book costs…. Before even thinking about money to spend on food and alcohol! London is an expensive city where the need to spend money on entertainment can be very tempting. University is a difficult time when you may be even more stressed by money worries than you are by your course work.
But then again, the pressure to maintain good grades whilst still being social can equally cause stress. On many courses, to gain a first you need to be at the library 24/7 researching and reading, you need to be consistently on top of things. You have to either be willing to sacrifice a social life or sacrifice your course work. And anyone who can appear to juggle both is probably sacrificing their sleeping schedule.
Suddenly this stress leads to all sorts of issues – maybe you’ve gained a knack for procrastination or some trouble sleeping. Deadlines and pressure of maintaining grades, whilst still keeping up with clubs and societies can all become so overwhelming. First years especially find the transition from school to university life even more difficult, as the change can feel much like being thrown in at the deep end. The adjustment will be strange for many 18 years olds who have being living at home all their life.
University may seem disappointing, that it’s not what you expected it to be. It’s true, my argument is mostly how difficult the work can be and that there seems to be less time for a social life than I would have liked. But this doesn’t have to be the only thing you get from your time. University may not be one of the best times of your life, but it is definitely true that it prepares you for what you face later in life. As long as university is not seen in the terms of being the ‘best thing ever’, you can create it to be whatever you need it to be such as the prelude to a happier and better career.
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