Despite all the wonderful things associated with youth, I wouldn’t go back as I am not confident I would do it any better in 2022 than in 1992. Every year we publish our Going to college guide. These pages contain advice on everything from finance to fitting in, and Janine has pulled together a breadth of information for students.

But admittedly the articles change little from year to year. Why repeat, you ask? Well, my wise predecessor Mairead Lavery advised me on the matter of repetition when I took up this role, saying “every year, this information becomes relevant to a new group of young people (and their parents)?.” This perpetual relevance extends to many of life’s stages, including pensions, which we will be covering again next month.

Comparing “then” and “now” is human nature but it will always be a source of tension. Considering the housing crisis now affecting students, I think many younger people would happily take the “then” to “now”.

“In my day” (yes, I said it) it was possible to live within a reasonable commuting distance of your chosen place of study. Yes it was expensive – my own mother had a real preference for WIT agriculture over UCD agriculture solely due to rent affordability. Yes, accommodation was difficult to find, but an August hunt always yielded a new home not too far from college or the watering hole of preference for that year.

College is the sum of its parts – education, exposure, life experience and people. There is already too much screen time.

The housing situation for students now is a serious problem. Talk of sleeping in cars or pitching tents on campus is not conducive to a high-quality educational experience. On Brendan O’Connor’s Sunday morning radio show a few weeks back, stand-up comic and writer Martin Beanz Warde spoke about how his recent COVID-time return to college was facilitated by the ability to complete the course online. Dr Jennifer Kavanagh, law lecturer with SETU, argued there was more to college than just the lectures in terms of human development. I agree with both of them.

I studied for the first year of my MBA almost exclusively online in 2021, with the second year mostly in person with some blended learning. Although, like Martin, we welcomed the ability to actually complete the course, as postgrads – and this not being our first sojourn into the college environment – we knew we were missing out. Suffice it to say that when the opportunity came to mix, we did so and have formed the relationships that we signed up for. But so much was missed in that first year. College is the sum of its parts – education, exposure, life experience and people. There is already too much screen time.

Rental agreement

A week or so ago a friend posted a question in our group: “ladies, thoughts on this?” Attached was a room rental agreement that her niece, a third-year student in UCD, was considering. Item one of 34, included being agreeable to “use of the downstairs bathroom as needed [as needed, sorry, what?], use of the kitchen for 15 minutes in the morning and one or two evenings per week to cook food for three days with microwave to reheat the other evenings”. And it just got worse from there on. From borderline racist (I confirm that I speak a fluent level of English) to downright deprecating: “I understand that the kitchen countertop is melamine NOT marble.”

You know what, that would never happen in my day, sure t’was far from marble you were reared.

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Reflecting on the passage of time and the people you meet along the way

Nutrition? Forget it. When you’re out, you’re out!