The steady fragmentation of the community and breakdown of the family has had its effect on university culture.
Students arrive at university from a variety of backgrounds and may carry a level of pain and guilt from the disappointment of past broken relationships. Even sociable students scarcely venture down the road of deep friendships, preferring to remain in the shallow end of a pseudo-community where belonging is centred on getting drunk together. For them image is everything and appearances must be kept up. For more withdrawn students, immersion in the unreality of a cyber community is a comfort easily enjoyed in the privacy of their own rooms, most student rooms having Internet access. Social skills are deteriorating as students and the society they create become increasingly individualistic.
People desperately want the deep friendships they don’t know how to make. Modular degrees send students scurrying all over campus instead of learning with a stable group of friends. An increasing number of students are enrolling on cyber courses or commuting daily from home to a local university, compounding the difficulties in making friends. It is hardly surprising then that loneliness is the greatest felt need in our universities today. On average about 50,000 students drop out of university after the first year. However, there is a genuine longing and craving for authentic community.
In the first exert of our Ready for Anything notes, written specifically for people who are about to start university, we look at making friends at university.