Forget freshers' week

April 16, 2009

Imagine you are a young person who does not socialise easily and has never left home before. What would you think of the suggestion that you move to a new town on your own, take up residence in a small flat or bedsit and spend a week wandering around meeting people?

Most of us would be horrified, and yet that is exactly what we ask our children to do during their first week as undergraduates. It is all very well to assume that every 18-year-old is brilliant at socialising and making friends and is happy without any structure, but there are many who find it incredibly hard and can be traumatised by the experience. As a university careers adviser and mother of an undergraduate, I know this too well.

I suggest we stop this madness known as freshers' week and introduce the various clubs and societies in about the fourth week of the first term. With no freshers' week, everyone would begin their courses immediately, with a set location to visit, a structured timetable to help them settle in and a small group of people to meet who would have the course in common. They could then integrate into the social side of university life at their own pace.

A secondary gain might be in cutting back on the cheap drink culture that invades freshers' week to the exclusion of almost everything else. Any chance this could happen?

Jackie Sherman, Abingdon.

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