Debate | University – The Best Years of Your Life?


Alice Smart

Leeds University Union Education Officer

Labeling any experience as ‘the best years of your life’ is pretty daunting. But ultimately, going to university is an experience like no other. Being a student provides you with a unique chance to broaden your horizons and try things you’d never even thought about. Never again will you find so many opportunities laid out before you.

University is also a brilliant tool for allowing you to connect with like-minded people, those who share your values and opinions. As well as this, it can also open your eyes to new ideas that you wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to. There really is nowhere else I can think of where people from different backgrounds with such a wide range of interests and passions come together.

Of course, everybody’s respective experiences at university won’t fit a generic mold, and the great thing is that everybody can shape their own experiences as they wish. It’s great to know that my individual university experience will differ completely to someone else’s. You have total autonomy over which societies you want to get involved with, which events you want to go to and who you want to lead your society and your Union.

Another brilliant aspect of the student experience at Leeds is that so much of it is shaped by our ideas. If there’s something any of us want to change about our University, Union or the city of Leeds we can submit ideas and proposals which could become policies.

Inevitably, university life can take some time to get used to. It certainly took me a while to find my feet during my first year. It wasn’t until my second year when I joined a couple of societies and started mixing with people outside of my course and halls that I really started to have the time of my life. I can see that University has definitely played a huge part in forming the person I am today. It allowed me to meet like minded people and really aided my personal development.

Many of us, including myself, will take a bit of time to settle in. But give university a chance, and if there’s anything you find yourself having an issue with, speak to someone about it. Also remember that you have the power to change things for the better.



Alex Roadnight

Third Year English Student

As I return to Leeds for my final year, I am forced to accept that my university experience will soon be over. I do have about 10 months until I graduate, but July will soon be upon us, and the university system will cough me out into the cold harsh reality: ‘the real world’.

Despite having enjoyed my university experience, I am aware that a lot of these offers will unfortunately expire after I graduate. In contrast to the wilderness of a barren job market, the university system does provide relative comfort and structure. Nevertheless, I argue that to suggest that my university years will be the best years of my life is not only wrong, but ultimately foolish.

The principal problem is that some people love to talk about the past in overly emotional, hyperbolic terms. Once, my childhood was labeled ‘the best years of my life’, and now this title is being awarded to my university experience. To idolise the past must be very comforting, especially when faced with the uncertainty of life after graduation, but by claiming that university will be the best years of your life, you are accepting that everything is downhill from here. It is like saying to yourself: “I have had fun, it’s a shame it has to end. I will never be as happy as I am right now”. ­­­Personally, I would like to think I have more to look forward to than alumni magazines arriving in the post.

University is a lot of fun and it is a great chance to make the most of new opportunities and experiences, but why should the fun stop there? I want to use all the skills that university has taught me – social, academic and otherwise – to have a lifetime of new opportunities and enjoyment.

My two years at Leeds University (and one year at the University of Oslo) have been great, and I will be lucky if my next year is equally as enjoyable. However, after university, as I graduate into what I will embarrassingly call ‘the university of life’, I don’t want to look backwards with a tear in my eye, I want to look forwards with a spring in my step.

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