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As the young people of Britain, we’re constantly told we’re in a crisis: an economic crisis, a jobs crisis, a cultural crisis. It doesn’t half make university less fun. In the four years I’ve been here, I’ve lost count of the amount of people I’ve seen crying in the library during exam time. The conversations I’ve had with people stressed because they’re on a borderline 2:1/2:2 is nearing 100. And it’s not because I’m a wise fountain of knowledge. Let’s be honest. We have, many of us, gone to university to simply get a degree and get a job out of it. However, there is so much more to do that makes going to university more worthwhile than a coded number on a piece of paper and it may only become clear once you leave it all behind.
If ever in doubt, you need only look at the swathes of new graduates who return at the weekend to University. They’re going through what I like to call the ‘quarter-life crisis’, nowhere near old enough to be a mid-life crisis but instead a reflection of the difficulties in being jettisoned into the real world. The regular returns of University alumni are an admission that, quite simply, life doesn’t always get much better than uni. My thoughts turned the quarter-life crisis last weekend when former students returned to Lancaster in their droves to celebrate Roses, clutching megaphones, a 12-pack of Fosters on their shoulder, and brandishing a slightly battered ‘I am Lancaster’ t-shirt. Similar specimens can be found in Freshers’ Weeks, Extravs or, failing those, there’s bound to be a good number in Sugar every weekend.
Who can blame them? The real world can turn out to be a place with insecure working contracts, long hours, and even stops you from taking a random day off work to go play football in the park. This is in stark contrast to the life enjoyed by many at university. So people retreat to their sanctuary in a bid to claw back some of the freedom they enjoyed but often took for granted. From personal experience, people who arrive back at university are likely to sit around the house all weekend in pyjamas, do the Sugar double, and drink like they did in first year (forgetting that they became much worse at handling their hangovers by third year), or get takeaway, play fifa and watch Storage Wars all weekend. The latter combination is definitely my preferred choice.
In amongst this ramble that has been building up in my head for the past few months, what I’m trying to say is above all else make sure you enjoy your time at university. I’ve not even begun to mention all the other, actually worthwhile possibilities that university can offer: you can learn to ballroom dance in the week, go hiking at the weekend, and do some voluntary work to help you feel good about yourself. It may sound hard at the present time – you’ve got exams that are probably too close together and the weather screams, “screw revision, go out and play”. But like many people who have regrets about university, your memories shouldn’t be fretting in the Library or checking your interactive transcript every other hour.
There is a life outside University but, to many people, it seems it’s not nearly as fun as the one you’ve got here right now. University is what you make of it and if you don’t make the most of it, you’ll regret it. To people who say they can’t wait to leave university, it may be worth focusing on what you’ve got now rather than where you will be heading. It seems, that when it comes to university, it’s only after you’ve gone that you fully appreciate what you left behind.