While it is true that University is not for everyone and that those with dyslexia will find it more difficult than those that don’t have the condition, I don’t think enough is made of the invaluable life skills a university education can teach you, particularly in light of some of the problems dyslexics are known to experience. Given recent research, (ironically published by Disney to mark the release of Monsters University) that compiled a list of fifty life skills that University teaches people, the benefits are clear, as can be seen from the list below:
BUDGETS, BOLOGNESE AND BLAGGING: THE 50 LIFE SKILLS LEARNED AT UNI
|1. Budgeting and prioritising||26. Writing footnotes|
|2. Living with others||27. Looking for a job|
|3. Doing a weekly food shop||28. Setting up the internet|
|4. Paying bills||29. Blagging essays|
|5. Studying independently||30. Being a good team player|
|6. Managing money||31. That fridges don’t clean themselves|
|7. Making friends||32. Using fridge space effectively|
|8. Navigate your way around||33. Making sure the house is locked|
|9. House / flat hunting||34. Playing pool / pub games|
|10. Socialising with all sorts of people||35. Saving energy|
|11. Registering at the doctor or dentist||36. Blagging ‘group discussions’|
|12. Turning up to lectures at the right time||37. Getting to lectures off campus|
|13. Appreciating home||38. Using top up gas or electric key|
|14. Supermarket shopping||39. General DIY|
|15. Coping without mum and dad||40. How to use the bus|
|16. Skim reading long books||41. Setting up a television|
|17. Pulling an all-night study session||42. Which dishes aren’t microwaveable|
|18. Being considerate to housemates||43. Sorting out the boiler|
|19. Using a washing machine||44. Sorting recycling|
|20. Going three nights with no sleep||45. Building flat-pack furniture|
|21. Making spaghetti Bolognese||46. Making scrambled egg|
|22. Using the library||47. Fire safety|
|23. Socialising in big groups||48. How to re-use takeaway containers|
|24. Cleaning||49. How to turn on the cooker or grill|
|25. The effectiveness of a good nap||50. You can’t eat mould|
Source: www. dailymail.co.uk
While some of these so-called skills are merely common sense (is it not obvious eating mould is a bad idea?), others are invaluable lessons that help people in their daily lives. Learning to be a team player, for example, means that in the world of employment you are not going to struggle to work as part of a team. It is also true that you don’t have to go to University in order to gain knowledge about the things on the above list, and indeed can and should learn them in other circumstances.
However, University, due to the nature of academic institutions and often there distance from family, means that it is uniquely placed to embed some of the more practical and work-orientated aspects of the list into the skill-set of participants. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to ask for a bit of parental help when faced with problems in their flat, whether those concern cooking, the washing machine or some other calamity that seems like the end of the world at the time? And while socialising with different kinds of people does not seem to be a hardship to most people, it might be that things like learning to skim read, timekeeping and prioritising tasks are arduous things for someone with dyslexia.
Whatever the specific issues an individual with dyslexia encounters, there is one thing University guarantees, particularly for those who choose to live away from home: you are forced to be independent like you never have been before and potentially face demons that you would not have been given the chance to face so completely were it not for the University environment. Although it’s scary, it’s also liberating (once you get over the fear).
While it isn’t for everyone, there is no denying that it is a very particular situation, given the focus placed on independent study and self-reliance in general. At home, you have parents or guardians, while at school you have teachers and in the workplace colleagues who are on hand should any problems arise. Conversely, within the structure of the University environment, you are essentially on your own unless otherwise directed, be it by a lecturer or to a seminar. But I think that needs to be embraced. Because with self-reliance comes resilience, the likes of which I believe you cannot know unless you are forced to stand on your own two feet. In my opinion at least, nothing forces you to do that like University does.