Hoping to study an agriculture-related subject at college or university this autumn or already settled in to college life?
There are so many things that go through your mind before you arrive: What can you expect? What will the people be like? The course? Are the rumours true?
Here’s what they don’t tell you in the prospectuses.
1. Best foot forward
You’ll be judged on your choice in wellies. Everyone knows Le Chameau are for the shooting fraternity and Dunlops are for the dairy folk. If you’re looking for a safe middle ground, maybe opt for Aigle.
It’s compulsory to have a favourite tractor make. If you’re not a machinery buff, just choose a colour, stick to it and try to make intelligent-sounding comments about engine size when talking to the arable lot.
3. Smells of success
Campus can have a rich odour of livestock muck at least once a week. If you’re lucky, it’s the cows; if you’re not, it’s the chickens.
4. The great divide
The North and South are two very different places. Pick a side. Is it dinner or tea? Should chips be eaten with gravy? What is a bread roll actually called? A bap? A cob? A teacake?
5. A matter of time
It’s like the normal rules of the universe don’t apply. Days, weeks, months fly by. It’s Freshers’ Week, then suddenly the first year is over and, before you know it, you’re leaving. It’s well worth remembering the old saying: You’re there for a good time, not a long time.
6. Game on
There will be dead game birds hung up in your accommodation at some point. Then the question of who knows how to do the messy bits arises.
See also: 25 pieces of advice for 25-year-olds
7. Good show
Events such as Cereals, Lamma and Dairy Expo take priority over lectures. You might even find your lecturers are more keen to attend than you.
8. In our day
Final-year students will, without exception, tell you that everything was better when they were freshers. Just agree – after all, you’ll be doing the same one day soon.
9. Getting fleeced
You will probably own about six Schoffels by the time you leave. Don’t worry – purchasing luxury fleece clothing is exactly what your student loan was intended for!
Yes, between courses. The ag lot look down on the environmental lot. The business guys think they’re a breed apart – as do the equine crowd and the wannabe vets. And that’s even before we get to the inter-college rivalry.
11. Easter tasks
Lecturers might talk about the work you need to do over Easter, but everyone knows that’s lambing time.
12. The stalwart lecturer
They have lectured since, in their words, “God was a boy”. They will be a world authority – and utterly obsessed – with their subject, which will be incredibly specialised. What they don’t know about fluctuations in the pH of the third stomach of Jersey cows fed ad-lib silage on the southern side of the Isle of Wight in the winter of 1974 simply isn’t worth knowing.
13. The halls of residence warden
They’re a post-grad, possibly in their mid- or late 20s and likely to become a perpetual student. They’ll be the first on the scene if anyone has an accident or the fire alarm goes off.
14. Student Union antics
What goes on tour, stays on tour. That’s all we’re saying.
15. The favourite tutor
Possibly a course manager or your personal tutor, they’ll write you a reference – and it’ll be a glowing one – when you are job hunting.
16. Grand designs
OK, so the prospectus might show nice buildings, but some of the old ag colleges have architecture to rival any National Trust property.
Choosing to study an ag-related subject at uni or going to an ag college will absolutely be the best decision you ever make. Now go forth and party (and work hard!)
Do you have any additions to this list? We’d love to hear them. Email email@example.com