Enthusiasm going into university can often blind us from all the mundane adult work that it actually entails; paying your bills, managing your finances and dealing with letting agencies, to name a few. These non-academic responsibilities can be much more extensive than imagined and quite foreign to those of us who are navigating adult life for the very first time. Yet as inevitable as this transition into adulthood may be, there seems to be a substantial lack of time invested in preparing young people for these non-academic responsibilities.
Generally speaking, society is putting more and more academic pressure on students to perform well in public exams. This is sadly a result of many combining factors including parents’ expectations, schools’ pursuits for better results to boost their prestige and even from students’ own expectations to perform well in exams.
This pursuit of academic excellence means that students have to spend more time studying and doing past papers. A survey conducted by the University of Phoenix in 2014 concluded that students can spend as much as 17.5 hours each week on homework compared to 6.8 hours each week in 2011 in a similar survey conducted by National Center for Education Statistics.
With a heavy workload and schools trying to squeeze as much academic content as possible into a school day, there does not seem to be enough time left to equip students with the skills needed to be well-rounded adults. And even if there are mandatory hours designated by the education system to foster the non-academic development of students, the hours required are hardly enough given the scale of changes students face in the adult world. Those efforts are often ill-prepared and mediocre at best. After all, how useful can a session of money managing once in a blue moon be when it only scrapes the surface ?
Of course, to give credit when it is due, the university often offers an array of support to facilitate that transition in compensation for the lack of it during pre-university time. For example, in the University of Edinburgh, the Advice Place run by the Edinburgh University Students’ Association offers support and advice for students on issues from sorting out accommodation to ensuring our own personal safety. Various student-led bodies and societies also focus on providing further support by different means like raising awareness on potential difficulties students may face, providing guidance and peer support.
However, these support services provided by the university are very often remedial and not precautionary, as students may not be aware these services exist until they are overwhelmed with life and responsibilities. And even if they know these support networks exist, it can be confusing to even the students themselves what types of specific support they require. In addition to that, students may be hesitant to find help due to a toxic belief that seeking help indicates a personal weakness. This easily leads to an accumulation of small inconveniences that explodes into an enormous mess.
Without a doubt, both schools and parents can do a better job preparing young people with the skills and insights required to evolve into a functioning adult before it is too late. This raises an important question about the kinds of educational reform we might want to see, with the focus shifting back to the students’ personal growth instead of a blind chase for academic success.
Image: Mohamed Hassan via Pixabay