Monday, September 24, 2007

Volvo day

This coming Saturday, if you are travelling along the M11 or A14 here's a game you can play. Keep a look out for cars delivering students for university. 1 point for a car stuffed full of obvious university kit. Add a point for a bike on the back. Add another point for each pot plant (that is, plant in a pot) visible in a back window. Add a further point if you can make an educated guess at the subject the students is studying (visible textbooks, bits of anatomical skeleton etc.) The doble your tally if it's a Volvo.

If you live in Cambridge, of course, stay away from the town centre. The place was never designed to accommodate this influx of traffic and concerned parents. You'll never get served in a café and it's crazy to attempt to buy anything at Sainbury's or M&S. Best stay away altogether.

So we will swap the f*cking punt chauffeur types for bunches of students - new ones, a bit bewildered, not yet sure how to do laundry; returning students - suddenly feeling terribly important and confident.

Poor things. And poor parents too. They are paying for all this now and no doubt feel much more invested in the whole business. Many parents insist on coming to college Open Days and even try to come to the admissions interviews. Not a great idea, but you can see why they might feel they have much more of a part to play in the process these days.

Another symptom of the new atmosphere is the readiness of universities to address parents directly. See, for example, the St Andrew's website: Nothing comparable yet at But students themselves here organize a 'parenting' system -- assigning new first years to 'parents' in the second or third year. It's something of an odd exercise in genealogy and not all 'parents' take an appropriately paternal or maternal attitude to their offspring, of course. But then, they haven't just driven from Devon with a pot plant obscuring the rear view mirror...

No comments: