Being accepted at university truly is one of the best days of your life. Knowing that your hard work has finally paid off and that you are on the final step towards a successful career really is the best feeling.

But when you go to university, and spend three years of your life specialising in a particular area, do you actually become that smart and extraordinary individual that university promises to transform you into? Or does university prepare you for something much, much bigger than that?

book spine & pencil
Moving away to university gives students a lot more than just an academic education. (Photo: George Thomas / Flickr)

Let’s be honest, when you are at school you are taught very complex subjects like maths, science and history. What they don’t prepare you for, however, is what happens next in life. I was lucky enough to take a gap of a few years between school and university, yet here I am still finding myself learning new things on a daily basis – and those things have nothing to do with the subject I’m studying.

Don’t get me wrong, I can’t deny the amount of knowledge and academic experience I have gained during my time at university, but that’s because of all the hard work I’ve put in every single day and the passion I have for what I do.

But that’s all to do with the decisions I chose to make. What I didn’t choose was a degree in how to face the real world, make responsible decisions and be (and act!) like an adult. I know many consider themselves as adults as soon as they reach a certain age, but you really have to become one when you start being in control of your life – and managing your finances, paying bills, organising recycling and locking the house are all a part of that.

You have to learn how to use that very complicated pieces of technology that you had never been near when you lived at home – some call it a washing machine – and you have to be able to recognise all by yourself which plates can (and can’t) go in the microwave.

When you live at home, you know your family will put up with all your moods and annoying parts of your character, but when you come to university and you have to live with so many new and different people, you have to learn how to compromise and start being considerate towards other people. I would say that compromising is by far the biggest skill I’ve gained in the last few years. I learned how to socialise with different types of people, how to solve problems by talking to each other and that being grumpy at somebody because of your 9am lecture isn’t really their fault.

And speaking of parents, you will never appreciate your family as much as you do when you only get to spend time with them during the holidays.

If you are a student, you will most probably recognise the importance of having a nap whenever you get a chance, or pushing the rubbish in the bin just a little further down so you don’t have to empty it, or even being a pro at wasting your day in spite of all the work you’ve been assigned to do. These are all things we get better at when we take on student life.

And, the most important lesson of all? Netflix – you cannot survive without Netflix.