The secret life of students: 20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing

The Secret Life of Students. Channel 4 documentary. Group shot

I have written about Channel 4 programmes before, some I have watched and some I have dipped in and out of. Recently having a lot of time of my hands I thought I would watch the latest “documentary” from Channel 4 “the secret life of students”.

Why would I do this to myself?

Well mainly boredom, intrigue and a little bit of wanting to relive the old days which I call upon a lot while writing this blog and in my day to day job. Don’t worry, this post isn’t about to be me saying “oh I wish I had done X differently” I can’t help but feel this is going to make me sound super old though.

The good

  • I think this is a great insight into the dos and don’ts of life as a fresher. You can make your own mind up about whether people are making the right decisions but I think it manages to cover quite a lot of your different typical (British) students.
  • It shows that everyone makes mistakes even if they go to Uni with the best of intentions, I saw a bit of myself in a lot of the characters there; the spending too much money and having to go to bank of mum and dad, the getting into a relationship under sketchy circumstances in the first term, the not tidying or cleaning the kitchen and driving people mad.
  • It mentioned the feelings of isolation, confusion and anxiety some students go through when they are adjusting to student life.
  • One of the students mentioned the importance of protecting what you share online especially with a future career in mind. Something I don’t think everyone pays attention to.
With hopes of being a surgeon, Ben had the right idea when he said he pays close attention to what pictures are posted on him online
  • It was really refreshing to see one of the students stand up to idiots who come out with nasty sounding drinking games! It took guts and I hope that some freshers will have the courage to call people out if they are being idiots.

  • I’m glad they featured some of the parents in this as it’s often easy to forget there are people rooting for you back home. I was especially pleased to see that there was the classic mum on there who was telling her daughter not to throw her education away for her boyfriend. Fair play, no one listens to mum normally so I’m glad she got a spot on there.

The bad

  • Although it shows a good range of dos and don’ts I think it also sets some bad examples which I hope people take heed of rather than follow.
  • The programme seemed to be about giving people an insight into what it’s like to be a student but didn’t explicitly mention what people should do if they experience emotional problems HINT student services/student support/your doctor/counselling services (whatever they are called at your uni)
Who ya gonna call?
Who ya gonna call?
  • As mentioned briefly above, this programme mainly focuses on your typical British student. Where were the international students? They pay more money! And often have a harder time, I would have liked to have seen some of them featured.
  • The programme also focuses a lot on the drinking culture among students. Which I don’t think is necessarily a good thing. And while I wasn’t the perfect student and while I definitely participated in the drinking side of things I still can’t help but think that students don’t really know what they are getting themselves in for when they go to Uni. They just go because it’s the “only option” or there is no appealing plan B. Yes it’s about being free to do what you want but you need to realise the reason you are there. First year is when you have the most freedom and I wish I had used that to crack on and get a solid range of marks in my first year before the pressure really piled on. 
I trusted my flat mates but after one night out they toilet rolled my room! All in good humour ofc 😛 PRIORITIES,HUH?
  • I wonder how accurately this programme showed the amount of contact time students get. I saw some of the tweets that flew around complaining about lecture quality and contact time but some of the characters seemed to get a lot of personal tutor time. It also seemed to suggest that students that are dragging behind get their butts kicked in someone’s office to help them get back on track, which doesn’t always happen. If you want to use twitter, how about suggesting your lecturers use it more widely to help boost your experience?



Unfortunately when first writing this I failed to mention one huge problem this programme highlights and that is the prevalence of “uni lad” culture. I wouldn’t say young should steer clear of uni because of this but be aware of it and don’t become part of the problem. Thanks to this tweet which reminded me of my glaring error!

Another thing I noticed is the “tug of war” that seems to exist between central university or union initiatives (i.e. socials) and the school or faculty the student belongs to. There is pressure on Schools or Faculties with increasing student numbers to provide a better student experience. This is hard to achieve alongside all of the expectations on a students shoulders. Students becoming saturated with emails, facebook invites and tweets especially when they first join. So it is becoming harder for students to decipher which events are worth going to. The majority of students are interested in drinking and they are the most accessible events. If there was more variety and less emphasis on alcohol I can’t help but think students would be more inclined to go along to networking events (providing there are refreshments of course!) meaning less pressure on them to drink to have a good time and hopefully meaning they will be better rounded individuals when it comes to finding a job?

ANYWAY I feel like I sounded like an old lady here but OH WELL! Thought I’d throw my two pennies worth in. I’ll be posting more of the graduate profiles soon I haven’t forgotten about them 🙂


Author: eemaa27

Blogging and reflecting to keep my writing skills in tune

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