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Is University Really 'The Best Years of Your Life'?

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From my own experiences of being a student, it seems as though nowadays we are constantly reminded by our parents and other adults how lucky we are to be at university. They always seem to be going on about how jealous they are of the fact that we are students, how they wish they could go back and do it again, and how many more opportunities we have now then 'back in their day'.

It is true that the contemporary university experience is very different to that of people from our parents' generation. For one thing we now know a lot more about university before we go, thanks to open days, prospectuses and various online information. Alongside this Facebook and other forms of social media have made it a lot easier to organise social events and interact with friends on your course outside of scheduled contact hours. You don't even have to go to lectures anymore because you know that the slides will all be posted online, meaning that you don't have to roll out of bed hungover on a Thursday the morning after the night before. Therefore is it of any surprise that your parents might be a little bit jealous?

To be honest, I can see where they're coming from. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that our parents' generation didn't enjoy university just as much as we do, but I'm pretty certain that I'm not the only student in the country who absolutely loves being at university in this day and age. When else, apart from when you were at school, are you surrounded by so many like-minded people? All of you have chosen to go to that university and study that particular course and live in that particular city. You've got a lot more in common than might first meet the eye. Indeed, in Durham 72% of students end up getting married to a fellow student from Durham. That figure might sound very surprising, but if you think about it you're going to spend at least three years around very similar people. Is it really that surprising after all?

Where else, other than at university, are you able to get involved in so many varied things. As a student you have the opportunity to go on a charity expedition to some far-flung country and do some real good in the world, you can join a society and end up becoming its president, you can play serious sport or simply competitive sport between halls, you can become a representative for your course or get involved with the student union. Furthermore, if you think your university is lacking something, say a Ben and Jerry's appreciation society or a Quidditch team, you can apply for funding from your university to set it up. The possibilities really are never-ending!

Many are likely to miss what they can get away with as a student. Whilst at university it is practically socially acceptable to lie in everyday, go out four or five times a week and even pretty much become an alcoholic. Once you graduate and start a job you'll almost certainly have to say goodbye to those 1pm starts and the two bottles of wine on a Wednesday night.

So yes, there can be no doubts that for the majority of people their years at university are ones to remember. But why is it just these few that have to be the best years of your life?

And indeed are they? Whilst you're a student there are some inevitable downsides. Firstly, you're going to be struggling for money. Unless you've got the bank of mum and dad at your beck and call university is a very expensive place, and you'll be paying back the cost of it for up to the next twenty five years. All that socialising comes at a price! As well as this comes the inevitable revision and subsequent exams. Not one student enjoys the stress and panic associated with finals and summative essays, but you've got to make sure to come out of university with a degree worth getting or it's probably the biggest waste of time and money you'll ever have. On top of this you might be living in pretty poor housing. Student residences are not exactly well known for their quality, and alongside this might well be drama with your fellow housemates. It's not all fun and games.

It is a shame though that society tends to view university as the final chance to let your hair down before you move on to 'the real world'. It is as though people think life is simply less exciting after you graduate, which I just can't understand. I can't wait to start my first (proper) job, move into my first house, live in a new city and move into the adult world of work. Life after graduation excites me just as much as when I found out I was going to university.

With that said, make the most of university whilst you can. Graduation and the adventures to look forward to after it are only a few months away for many students around the country, including myself. University may not necessarily be the best years of your life, but you'll certainly want them to be up there.

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