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Tape cassette

OFF TO UNIVERSITY

STUDENT LIFE – THEN VS. NOW

Take a trip down memory lane and discover how the student experience has moved on from the days of listening to vinyl, wrestling with armfuls of books and lining up for payphones to call home.

THE RISE OF THE SMARTPHONE

OLD SCHOOL

The first commercial mobile phone was released by Motorola in 1983: the catchily named DynaTAC8000x. Weighing a hefty 785g, standing 14 inches tall and providing a mere hour of talk time, it cost an eye-watering $4,000. Cutting edge at the time, it seems inconceivable when you consider the options in 2017: the Sony Xperia X is just 135g, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is only 7mm thick, the Motorola Moto Z Play has a continuous-use battery life of over 23 hours, and you can purchase a phone from £5 a month.

STAY CONNECTED

While students today can contact friends and family instantly, for older generations it was trickier. Contact with home involved queuing at a payphone, or parents leaving notes with forgetful hallmates. Students may like the idea of more independence and not being so easily reminded of a growing to-do list, but the mobile phone is also a gateway to reassuring phone calls and stories about new adventures.

MUSIC MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND

Many parents likely have memories of taking vast collections of CDs or vinyl to uni, but these days it’s a much lighter load. Digital music files can be stored on laptops, and portable hard drives back up even the biggest collections. Streaming services such as Spotify and Google Play offer affordable subscriptions that can be accessed from laptops, tablets and phones, so you can enjoy high-quality sound wherever you are.

TAKE YOUR MUSIC WITH YOU

State-of-the-art wireless or noise cancelling headphones, such as Beats By Dr. Dre, and portable Bluetooth speakers like the UE Boom, provide further privacy and freedom past students didn’t get to enjoy. Previously, listening to music with friends meant sitting around a Hi-Fi in a room, while taking tunes out and about involved the slow rewinding of a cassette in a Walkman.

GO RETRO

However, vinyl enjoyed a 25-year high in sales in 2016. With models such as the Crosley combining cool retro styling with increased portability, and the Audio-Technica the ability to link to your computer via USB, the new breed of record players are more appealing to students than ever.

HITTING THE BOOKS

HUMAN DIGITAL

Computers have transformed the way students work – corrections can be made instantly, while typing a 30,000 word dissertation on a Macbook is infinitely easier than using a typewriter. Students also often type notes on speedy, lightweight laptops in lectures rather than writing them out. The internet has also revolutionised the way we access information and, while the library remains an invaluable resource, students no longer have to battle over the one book needed for an assignment.

Any parent who went to uni will recall heavy textbooks and files with pages of notes. While these remain a part of student life today, there are a variety of additional options that can save time, money and effort. Many textbooks are available in digital format for a fraction of the cost of the print version and, as added bonuses, slim and lightweight e-readers like Kindle and Kobo can store thousands of books.

THE FUTURE

Not only has the number of people going to university doubled in the last 30 years (1.84 million in 2016 compared to 909,300 in 1986), but methods of study have also changed dramatically. Many universities now record lectures and load them online, so students can listen again or catch up if they missed it, while some are live streamed. In another 30 years, perhaps you’ll be watching your children earn their degrees from universities across the world in the comfort of their living room.