The day I packed my bags and left for University felt like the biggest and most daunting step of my life. I now know that this is from the frightening realisation that occurs in that first night - I am alone - complete independence means being away from the comforts of home and security of parents.
Very quickly students have to learn how to live and gain their education unaided, without the constant pressure, nagging and help that parents provide. We instead all eventually turn to technology for help. I can honestly say that for the last year it has been my trustworthy laptop that has raised and nurtured me. Universities therefore have been continually developing to provide the best programming, sites and systems to make sure that we, their new ‘children’, can easily mature and thrive.
My generation is fortunate to have been raised in a century of technology, where if you don’t know how to use a laptop, mobile phone and iPod by the age of fifteen it is considered bizarre. However, when it comes to using digital technology for University education, it is surprising as to how similar it is to when I gave a mobile to my grandmother. As students, we are taught the basics and yet that is where most of us (like my grandmother) give up.
However, there is a whole diverse world of digital information that can ease our lives, improve our knowledge and assist us in our daily duties. If only my granny had been able to discover the wonders of Twitter, Facebook and Wikipedia, I’m sure her days would have been more fulfilling and improved much like my quality of life at University. My point here is that after the first few months of adjusting and struggling with the new, seemingly impossible build up of work, I began to explore what the internet could really do.
Aladdin’s treasure trove of information was opened to me. Through the University portal I could access the online library filled with free journals that I could easily search and use, which really improved the quality of my work. No longer did I have to back up my poorly argued essays with made up and often incorrect evidence but I could research and quote known authors.
Through VLE Blackboard I could go onto modules message boards and yell at team members who weren’t pulling their weight, or view important announcements made by lecturers (that I had not listened to as they were said in the last five minutes of class). I even found that social network sites, of which I had previously spent what seemed like my life on, were surprising me with answers to my questions that I had hash-tagged #HELP!!!
Finally University’s burden seemed to ease and I can’t stress how important the access to digital information helped this. From timetabling being my new mum shouting at me to go to lectures; to Google being my dad, though with far more accurate answers to questions; Twitter being my new brother giving me annoying updates but often with interesting points; and my sister being the VLE giving me last minute help in my states of sudden panic.
So, with A-Levels recently revealed I wish luck to the new first year students and pass on my wisdom that as unlikely as it seems, you can survive without your family, on your own and be independent, through the help gained by exploring the digital world.
Amy is currently in her second year of studying English and Classical Literature at the University of Leeds.