student life


student life
The popular image of student life is of young people with few responsibilities enjoying themselves and doing very little work. This is often not true. Many older people now study at college or university, sometimes on a part-time basis while having a job and looking after a family. These students are often highly motivated and work very hard.
  Younger students are often thought to be lazy and careless about money but this situation is changing. In Britain reduced government support for higher education means that students can no longer rely on having their expenses paid for them. Formerly, students received a grant towards their living expenses. Now most can only get a loan which has to be paid back. Since 1999 they have paid over £1 000 towards tuition fees and this amount from 2006 will increase up to a maximum of £3 000. In the US students already have to pay for tuition and room and board. Many get a financial aid package which may include grants, scholarships and loans. The fear of having large debts places considerable pressure on students and many take part-time jobs during the term and work full-time in the vacations.
  Many students in Britain go to a university away from their home town. They usually live in a hall of residence for their first year, and then move into digs (= a rented room in a private house) or share a house with other students. They may go back home during vacations, but after they graduate most leave home for good. In the US too, many students attend colleges some distance from where their parents live. They may live on campus in one of the halls, or off campus in apartments and houses which they share with housemates. Some students, especially at larger universities, join a fraternity or sorority, a social group usually with its own house near the campus. Fraternities and sororities often have names which are combinations of two or three letters of the Greek alphabet. Some people do not have a good opinion of them because they think that students who are members spend too much time having parties.
  In Britain the interests of students are represented by a student’s union which liaises with the university on academic matters, arranges social events and provides advice to students. Individual unions are affiliated with (= linked to) the NUS. The student union building is usually the centre of student life and has a bar and common room, and often a restaurant and shops. British universities have a wide range of societies, clubs and social activities including sports, drama and politics. One of the highlights (= main events) of the year is rag week, a week of parties and fund-raising activities in support of various charities.
  Especially in their first year, US students spend a lot of time on social activities. One of the most important celebrations, especially at universities which place a lot of emphasis on sports, is homecoming. Many alumni (= former students) return to their alma mater (= college) for a weekend in the autumn to watch a football game. During homecoming weekend there are also parties and dances, and usually a parade.
  When social activities take up too much time, students skip lectures (= miss them) or cut class (AmE) and take incompletes (AmE), which means they have to finish their work after the vacation. In the US this has the effect of lowering their course grades, but most US universities expect this behaviour from students and do little to stop it. Students are thought to be old enough to make their own decisions about how hard they work and to accept the consequences. A few students drop out (AmE flunk out) but the majority try hard to get good grades and a good degree.

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Universalium. 2010.

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