As universities have had their Freshers in the last few weeks, all media seems to be focused on those going away; things they ought to know, recipes they should have and so on. However, there doesn't seem to be anything for those left behind. The wording may seem a little cruel but what I mean by this is those who, for whatever reason, are not attending Uni but are surrounded by those who are. I thought I'd give a voice to those people, as I am myself one of them.
Your friends have left, your hometown seems quiet and the local club is a ghost town. Your newsfeed is full of 'this person is now attending this university' or 'this person is now friends with 30 new friends' not to mention the foam party, cops and robbers theme event and 'pub crawl' photos. Whether or not you had planned/ are planning to eventually go to University, it is hard to see your friends make new lives for themselves in new cities. Deep down is that worry that they will like their new friends more than you. It is completely natural to feel that and have anxieties but what you have to remember is that for them it's exciting and unknown, new faces and places. You have to give them the time to be enthralled by it all before they give a thought to their old friends. Just because it takes them a couple of weeks to be the one to start a conversation rather than you, doesn't mean they aren't your friends anymore. All it means it that you are a comfort and constant that they know will be there and, for the moment, they have to give their attentions to the massive changes they are going through. After Freshers comes the reality that they have to study, go to classes and work out how to use a washing machine; the Freshers' flu descends and suddenly the shiny new world they were in suddenly seems scary and overwhelming. This is perhaps when you suddenly get a rush of Facetime requests, out-of-the-blue messages and so on. I'm not saying to be angered by this, like you are a last resort. In fact, quite the opposite is true. When they feel alone and overwhelmed they are going back to what is safe, what they know will make them feel better. I choose to take it as a compliment, if anything it proves they still see you as a valued friend that they trust and can turn to when they need help.
I am not asking you to sit around and wait for the phone to ring. What I think we, the left behind, ought to do is have our own fun whilst they have theirs! There are always others still around, the gap year students, the re-takers and those who didn't plan to go to Uni at all (and the Oxbridge/ Durham people but I'm sure they must leave at some point...) If there is somewhere you want to go, or something you want to see this is the time to do it! Big attractions are their quietist right now and places usually swarmed are only moderately busy, why not go mid-week to a site you've been meaning to visit for a while? I've personally been interested in doing some online courses but never had the time before due to schoolwork and study. Now that things have calmed down, I encourage you to find an online class that you might like: there are thousands to choose from so you can do a topic that you've always found interesting but perhaps never had the chance to look at more closely (I am aware how eerily similar I sound to the marketing schemes of the online education centers, perhaps subliminal messaging is working after all). On the other hand, classes may not be your thing, or even the exact reason you decided to leave education. You could always try to take up a new hobby or develop a skill. What I am trying to communicate is that not going to Uni isn't necessarily a negative thing! It doesn't even have to mean the end of your education, all it means is that YOU are now in charge, studying what you want to the level of depth that you want. It is clichéd but the world is your oyster (which apparently was first said as far back as Shakespeare's 'The Merry Wives of Windsor', who'd have thought?!) The right to 'have a great time' does not solely belong to a Uni student. All the things that you want to experience, you can, if you are willing to go out there and do it! On the plus side, whatever you get up to, probably won't cost you £9000 a year!