Students do not have the best of reputations these days. Take this from a mature student who spent a decade in the “real world” before coming to university. It is a widely held belief that students are, apparently in league with immigrants and welfare cheats, bringing this country down. Do not underestimate how confident people are that the typical student is lazy, naïve, selfish and sinful. Why do they think this? The answer, to be blunt, is that there is an element of truth to it.
Student life has been sensationalised, of course, by the likes of Daily Mail journalists and E4 television producers. None the less, it remains a hedonistic lifestyle to its core. The typical student is blessed with a combination of free time and disposable income. Yes, all students are in debt but paying that off is something to be worried about in years to come. In the here and now, there are nightclubs to stumble out of at two in the morning. Students do work harder than they are given credit for but they are amply rewarded by all the fun that is to be had.
The honest truth of the matter is that people out in the “real world” are jealous of students. They resent the fact that students are able to be less cynical and more idealistic in their worldview. They resent the fact that their advancing years mean a night of moderately heavy drinking now leaves them with a hangover that lasts a week. They resent the fact that they have to be up at six to make it into work for their nine to five shift while students get to lie-in until noon.
It is for these reasons that people in the “real world” are so determined to emphasise the negatives of student life. Let us not deny these negatives do indeed exist; binge drinking, antisocial behaviour, sexual assaults and the use of illegal drugs, to name but a few. Truth is, equivalent negatives would be found if any other section of society were placed under similar scrutiny. Amongst pensioners, for example, you would doubtless find rampant racism and homophobia.
Likewise, students have many excellent redeeming qualities that tend to get glossed over. In my experience they are more tolerant of other people, regardless of their religion, sexuality, race or culture, than any other section of society. As mentioned above, they are also hardworking as they strive to meet a relentless assault of essay submission dates. They are also a colourful bunch with innovative ideas about fashion, politics and popular culture which will one day inform the mainstream.
If this article has a point, it is that students should unapologetically enjoy the experience. Jealousy is an ugly emotion at the best of time so try not let the grumpy old people get you down. Take it from me, though it is not all bad, life in the “real world” will never be quite so consistently fun.
(Image courtesy of Leeds University Union)