James Pratt didn’t always ‘get it right’ but flourished at uni - your children can too
I went to Falmouth University in Cornwall from 2017-2020 studying Journalism and Communications. The experience was amazing and key to forming the person I am today. But there were certainly things I wish I knew before I went….
(Falmouth University Penryn campus)
Ignore the pressure to make friends fast
I certainly felt pressure to make a lot of friends quickly. From living in the same place for 18 years, to being thrust into a brand new world of young adults, I really felt the struggle to meet new people and have a life worthy of posting all over social media. I think that was a pitfall for me, I tried too hard to fit into crowds that didn’t believe what I did. These were good people but because I wasn’t secure in myself, I ended up going out more than I would’ve wanted to and drinking too much, which was not what I had intended to do. What I didn’t realise is that Uni is such a diverse place, that eventually you will find people who you do have a lot in common with, but sometimes this takes time. I’m not saying, don’t make an effort with people who you don’t have things in common with! Just don’t feel pressure, especially in first year, that this is you’re only chance to make lifelong friends. Most of those people only really came to me in my second year. But it does lead me to another lesson…
The CU is a great way to meet other Christians…(obviously)
It is probably not a co-incidence that when I started making meaningful friends, I was also starting to go to the Christian Union. The cross-denominational nature of the CU meant that I met a diverse array of Christians and therefore had a window into their local churches. It is so refreshing halfway through the week to catch up with other believers and unwind. It also gave me opportunity to serve as well, my nights out went from drinking at the University bar to standing outside it offering free tea and toast to very grateful partygoers. It was very rewarding.
I will say that this won’t be everyone’s experience of the CU, although Christ is perfect, we are only human and sometimes the CU can reflect that but whatever your view on it is. I would encourage you to give it a go because you never know who you might meet!
Faith is a Muscle
University was the first time out of my Christian bubble. I couldn’t just rely on my parents to take me to church and back, or to create a Christian environment. That was all on me now and I had to put the effort in. The truth is that if you’re not going to church or meeting with Christians, or even just talking to God at all, then your faith will grow weaker, like an unused muscle. Which can easily happen when Uni life can be so alluring and shiny. But God is an ever patient God, even when I strayed away i.e. drinking, not engaging in faith, he was waiting for me to come back and since then there has been no substitute for God in my life!
(stock image used)
The University is on your side (if you want it to be)
I never really realised how helpful the University itself could be. It really is what you put into it and I found that out, especially after I left. Whether it was applying to internships and work experience or throwing events, most Universities have tremendous resources at their disposal to help you get where you want to go. I found getting things done a lot smoother when I had the clout of the Uni behind me.
There’s lots more I wish I could have told my younger self, about studying and work for example, but ultimately university is just as much the skills and life experience acquired as it is about the piece of paper you get at the end. The key is finding the right balance between being intentional with yourself, friends and faith, but also learning that often God’s taking care of you either way.
James Pratt studied Journalism and Communication at Falmouth University and now works as a Production Assistant on the Inspirational Breakfast Show on Premier Radio