Rachael Milsom considers the lessons we really learn at university…

At first, we may say the obvious answer – university teaches us about the degree we have chosen to study. We attend lectures, seminars, workshops and labs. We slave over essays and devote ourselves to revision for exams. We aim to expand our knowledge of a certain subject to be prepared for a career in that area. But university is not just about listening to our tutors in the lecture hall or diligently studying inside the library. During our three years at university we learn so many life lessons along the way. This knowledge in its own way is equally as valuable as a degree. So here are a few things that university teaches us:

Previously most students have relied on their family to support them and possibly even keep them alive. But at university we must fend for ourselves. You must now rely on an actual alarm clock, rather than your mum, to wake you up. The kitchen cupboards no longer miraculously replenish themselves every Friday. Your dirty laundry pile will keep growing until you do something about it. University forces us to grow up, become self-sufficient and be capable of living independently.

Time Management:
Students learn to juggle lectures, deadlines, societies, a social life and perhaps a job. It is our responsibility to remain organised and learn to strike a balance. University can be extremely hectic. First year may consist of many all-nighters fuelled by energy drinks and junk food in a desperate attempt to meet the deadline. But hopefully by the end of university students have learnt the necessity of planning ahead and managing time effectively.

Financial Management:
University certainly teaches us the need to budget and save. Student loans regularly flood into our bank accounts. In fresher year the temptation to indulge in excessive spending sprees is often too great. Students become far too familiar with tight budgeting, resorting to everyday value food and desperate attempts to avoid hitting the bottom of the overdraft. By third year we are hopeful that we have finally succeeded in becoming the master of our financial affairs.

Alcohol Limits:
Yes, seriously. A first year university student who has exceeded their limits in an extraordinary fashion is not only a common sight at FND but is a familiar memory for each and every student. We come to university without any real clue regarding our alcohol tolerance. We drink and drink without knowing when to stop. But practise makes perfect. All those nights of having ‘one too many’ help us learn how much we can drink without stepping over the line. And to avoid Sambuca at all costs.

I could go on and on about the lessons we learn at university. Perhaps some learn how to be a professional procrastinator. Most students learn the beauty of naps or the precious nature of toilet roll. Or on a more serious note we learn the importance of work experience. Let’s face it – the prospect of getting a job is looking pretty bleak without it. But the point is that university is not just about getting a degree. It is about all the other little things we learn along the way. Things that will really help us to develop into mature, successful adults.

Rachael Milsom


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