School is the learning ground for how to retain and reciprocate information. Yet, what it means to live and become independent is overlooked. Upon entering university, we are hit with the realisation of how much secondary school didn’t teach us. The jungle of the playground and the system of the classroom gave little insight on reality beyond the education system.
To start with the word credit – which may have been introduced but as a taboo, and the idea of budgeting may have been uttered at school – it was rare to be taught how to budget. Instead, we were taught to focus on algebraic functions and how to find the ‘x’ value of a function. It was never relayed that each aspect of your money should be accounted for; whether placed in a spreadsheet or setting a spending budget every week and having that figure in mind as you shop. It can make it easier for the everyday. Since the credit crunch crisis, fintech banks have opened for the pure simplicity of aiding the public to manage their money. Apps such as Mint and Monzo have been created for this exact purpose. ‘Monzo’ is a British based bank app that shows a visual representation of where money has been spent and how much can be saved for the month. There is also a card to use in-stores. The app is convenient, modern and easy to work into student life.
Moving away from parental guidance is a rollercoaster of an experience. The sudden freedom and realisation that you can make your own rules is both daunting and liberating. The idea of packing appropriately is literally written out for you on a list provided by most schools. The how?, what? and where? questions are answered concisely before you have even stepped foot on campus. The unanswered question is always ‘what now?’. Once the phone calls from home have slowed down and the novelty of fresher’s week has worn off, what is there to do now? A way to navigate the new found freedom is to join a society.
Societies are a way of developing a skill and discovering another side of you outside of studies. For some this tends to bring about an existential crisis, a search for purpose and meaning for life. The sudden realisation that there are people out there with lives that are so different to your own, and understanding how well you cope with learning a new skill can be motivating. It can foreshadow what the future will look like, and meeting others in that society can progress an understanding of self. Schools don’t emphasise self-discovery, instead they place the focus on finding a career path.
When things went wrong in school, the feedback was negative. A negative grade or detention was a punishment whenever there was academic failure. University allows there to be room outside of academia so that you can cope with it; it creates a safe space to learn and to grow from mistakes. Failure is not always a bad thing but a great teacher. During our time at university, societies may be joined and then never returned to or perhaps we will pick up a part-time job that then becomes impractical due to a busier schedule. It’s all part of a learning process that will set you up to be able to live in the real world.
Until the school system is ready to change, it is down to you to find out. Modern day technology has made it more accessible than ever on knowing what to do in almost any situation. If you’re not watching YouTube clips from The School of Life or reading articles on BuzzFeed, your free time and independence means that it’s now down to you to decide who you are.
by Shannon McDonald