It’s fresher’s week and trainloads of students have been piling in and tentatively making themselves at home. The pubs are filling up and the local student associations are out in force, armed with discount deals, local information and essential advice.

Many local pubs likewise will be priming up for the inevitable avalanche of new trade with offers of student cards, discount deals and fun times. Aberdeen is alive again for another academic year of heavy study, heavy drinking and cramming for exams!

I didn’t go to college or university till in my late twenties and was therefore considered a mature student. I nonetheless enjoyed my student life immensely and made some great friends along the way. I can remember however that for some, the social aspect became dominant very quickly and they soon found themselves in the unfortunate quagmire of being unable to keep either their part-time jobs or up with their studies.

I had much in common with many of my younger friends as a student. I enjoyed a full social life. The difference for me is that there was no social or peer group pressure involved. And no parental or other family pressures to succeed.

The responsibilities, and freedoms, of adulthood, suddenly thrust upon them were perhaps for some a little too much. Such is the nature of student life, peer and social pressures in constant conflict with the requirements of academic advancement. However, for those who make the most of all the opportunities that present themselves during their student lives, it will be a challenging, fun, and extremely rewarding time.

For many, it will be the first time they have stayed away from home and for most, it will represent the single most important personal responsibility they have had to deal with in their lives so far. How they deal with the next few years will decide how their lives take shape perhaps over decades to come. No pressure then?

I would like to suggest that a lot more than mere academic advancement is imparted to students during this crucial time of their lives. Life experience in abundance awaits those who would listen to the silent whispers that follow the many mistakes they will make. Work ethic in abundance awaits those who know how to learn and grow. A world of opportunity awaits those who come out the other side with the wisdom to listen and learn first and talk second