HRH The Duke of Cambridge has just finished his first week as a mature student at the University of Cambridge. As a fellow mature student, I can tell Wills what he can expect from uni life...
Dear Prince William,
You don't know me, but I had a poster of you on my wall when I was 11 that my friend's mum got from the Daily Mail. Also, my friend's sister went to St Andrews and sat next to you at breakfast once, but she didn't have her contacts in and didn't realise until afterwards.
Needless to say, I feel very close to you right now.
Another thing we have in common is that we've both recently returned to university as mature students. I know! How weird is that?! How COOL is that.
Your relatives must be really proud. I bet Queenie was all, like, "Wills - SO wonderful to hear you're going back to universiteh. I feel CERTAIN that you've thought the decision through VERREH, VERREH carefully. After all, one doesn't just leave one's JOLLY GOOD JOB flying helicopters to become a student again, particularly when one is the WRONG SIDE OF 30, DOES one?!" and you were all like, "Yah, yah, grandma, don't worry - I've got this one under control."
Families, right? So intense.
I bet your friends have been cooler about the whole thing. I bet they were all, like, "No, no, no, no. No. I definitely think it's a really, really good thing to do. Especially now, while you're still y- while you're still relatively young. I'd do it myself, but actually I seem to be earning quite a lot of money. But it's great that YOU'RE doing this. Will the helicopter people take you back, do you think?"
Anyway, I know you're super busy - I definitely am - so I won't keep you long. I understand that going back to student ways can be disorienting, so I've come up with some pointers to help you prepare for modern university life.
Students today are cleverer than they were ten years ago
Say what you like about the "Never Had It" generation, but they must have been pumped full of oily fish at school. You can practically see the brains rippling beneath their smooth, unlined foreheads. I'd say "don't be intimidated", but it's probably too late for that. Just try to remember that you're all, technically, in the same boat. Join in as fully as your limited intelligence will allow, and remember - no-one ever objected to being bought a drink. Or a county.
Everything is more expensive
You can kiss goodbye those hazy memories of snakebite 'n' black at £2 the pint, student cinema for £3 and three-course roasts for £4. These days you're looking at a minimum spend of £6 for a half-pint of lukewarm white wine from the student bar, even with a 'complimentary' student card (I don't call that complimentary. I call that a slap in the face). I appreciate that there may be minor differences between our respective financial situations, but you take my point. Buy a hip flask and use it.
The library has changed beyond recognition
When I was an undergraduate, only eight desks in the library had Internet access; the temperature remained at a steady 12 degrees centigrade (except for one week in August when it was hotter than the SUN) and the only time I ever heard someone speaking out loud was the day a pigeon flew in and shat all over Musicology. In 2014, university libraries have WiFi, technobooths, vending machines and "chill-out zones" where students are positively encouraged to talk. Out loud! It's grim. Bring earplugs.
Facebook is no longer for baby photos
Facebook may have fallen out of favour with 16-18-year-olds, but its use among current uni students is booming. All the notifications for 'likes' on your photos of Prince George are about to be replaced by intimidating updates from the closed group for your degree course. If I were you, I'd get into Twitter and start some heavy oversharing. Also: Snapchat.
Evenings and weekends have no meaning for you now
You're a student now, Wills - you don't HAVE free time. If you're not physically in a lecture or seminar, you should be in the library working, sitting on the floor in a corridor having a meeting with one of your work groups, or at home, crying.
All love to Kate - it can't be easy having to look after two stressed, bald princes.