Student special: accommodation, social media and the essential value of independence

In many ways, society wants to continue to treat postgraduate students like children. Well, fuck that! There’s no better time to spread your wings, learn to be an adult, and live your real life – independently. It may be difficult – in fact, it will be – but don’t let the housing crisis get in the way of your vital personal growth…

There has always been pressure on students. We know that. It comes with the concert. That and as much craic as you can handle, depending on your pocket, your liver, and the room you’re staying in.

But the pressure is getting heavier. there is no doubt.

Part of this has to do with the increased emphasis – both in mainstream society and in schools – on finding your dream course and pursuing your dream career; be your best self; live your best life, and all that. Not everyone can do this.

Very well, everything works out for some. Bully for them. But luck also plays a big role, and a whole lot of jolts happen – both during and after college – as individuals try to get to grips with some really serious stuff they never even had the chance to think ahead. A pregnancy occurs: what to do now? A friend is suicidal: who do you turn to?

In many ways, the independence young people so desperately want — and you could argue they need — has shrunk.

Many factors come into play here, but increasing the duration of education itself has a major role to play.


A century ago, when this country withdrew from the British Empire, most people left school at fourteen. They became adults almost overnight. They were expected to contribute to the family income, to be able to buy their own cigarettes and shoes.

Leaving home happened as soon as possible. Often that was when people got married – often at a young age.
A hundred years later, you’ll probably still be studying in your early twenties. That’s a decade older than most of your great-grandparents.

So, as our education lengthens, so do the assumptions of the so-called moral guardians about the transition to independence. In many ways, the modern trend is to treat people like children for as long as possible. It could be said that there is a degree to which it suits certain elements of society to push a process of “infantilization”. It is something that students are right to reject, to resist.

At present, the main cause of justifiable outrage among students is the widely felt sense of grievance over the inability to find accommodation – and the resulting anxiety over having a base or place to sleep. the night.

This difficulty, in particular, was accelerated by the unfortunate sale of university housing to real estate companies. It was perhaps understandable when money was tight, but it was a very bad decision in the long run. This should never have happened.

Students don’t need to climb “on the property ladder,” despite what political opportunists might say. But they definitely need an affordable place to live, a place where they can leave their stuff, get to college relatively easily, make new friends, get drunk and/or high and, with a little luck and consent required, get fucked. from time to time.

The truth is, college life isn’t just about being responsible, keeping your eyes on the prize of a great career, obsessing over your studies to get the best job in the universe – and so on. after…

It’s also about making new connections, spreading your wings, getting a taste of what life really has to offer. It’s about having crazy mad, having mad scrapes, dancing like a Finnish Prime Minister and his friends, laughing until you strip your connective tissue from your ribs – and talking about stuff , notions and opinions until the sun comes up and even the seagulls go home .

Reading, rolling and rithmetic, you might say!

That these carry risks cannot be ignored. There will be highs and lows: terrible misunderstandings, random cheaters, depression, sometimes maybe too much alcohol or bad drugs.

There can be toxic buddies and, especially in 2022, social media betrayals. Everything is saved somewhere. Ask Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

That said, with eyes wide open, most of us navigate the rapids.

And we embark on new things: projects, plays, sports, campaigns, discoveries, travels, politics, music.


But we can’t escape the year – and the era – in which we find ourselves. Things may have looked reasonably ok until Russia invaded Ukraine. Now all bets are off. Shit hit the fan and it’s not getting better anytime soon.

Prices are up and available homes are down, drastically.

Getting the most out of a college education is much more difficult if you have to spend a few hours walking from your room to your locker. Or when you live at home, just as you might love your parents and siblings.

And when it’s all on that little screen, you hardly ever leave it.

Which, perhaps, is the point.

As teenagers, we want both to be treated as individuals and to be like everyone else.

By the time we reach independent adulthood, we have determined who and what we are, what we believe in, and what we stand for.

If we leave college without having accomplished so much, then something is seriously wrong.

And many do. Some higher education staff, and in due course employers, complain that a large percentage of students want to be spoon-fed, hand in lecture notes and point to exam questions. Because that’s what they’re used to from Leaving Cert.

For the record, some students return the service with more venom, complaining about the level of teaching and supervision they receive. And they also have a real point.

But being in college is, or certainly should be, about independence of thought and action, not gathering and conformity.

Yes, new skills and knowledge must be absorbed, but new ways of thinking and behaving are just as important.

We must aim to shed the old skin and put on a new one, discover new ideas and test old assumptions against new ideas and solid evidence. This is not the end of our development: we continue to change. But that’s the end of childhood and addiction – or it should be.

We need to develop the skills to analyze problems and come to independent conclusions, and then act on them.

Whether alone or in a team, it doesn’t matter. The goal is to take responsibility.

So the college years are a time for engaging, learning, thinking and doing, rather than following the herd – and especially, at this time, the herd on social media.


That doesn’t mean giving up on social media altogether. This means identifying what it is and where – if at all – one platform or another fits into your life.

It means appealing to independent and constructive critical thinking, regardless of the consensus – or the crowd yelling.

Being in college is, or should be, one of the most exciting times of our lives, but for many, it isn’t. And it’s a shame.

The fact that issues such as housing are such a source of stress for so many people is an indictment of the political decisions made – and also made by college authorities.

Make no mistake: for the immediate peace and harmony of the country, this issue must be resolved. It needs action-oriented local task forces, which will clash with the heads of local governments and higher education institutions

Around the world, it is a time of war, hunger and energy poverty. We are collectively facing enormous existential crises. But that’s no excuse to sit on our hands.

The sky is heavy. Things aren’t going to be easy. But we wish students the best possible university life. And remember: you too can be part of the solution…

– The pig

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