What we really learn at university: How to play pool

How to play pool, job-hunt and make scrambled eggs are among the main things that most students learn at university.

In fact, the average graduate will leave university with a degree – and 50 vital life skills, including using a washing machine, and playing pub games, a study has found.

The true extent to which university years prepare students for an adult life of independence away from mum’s apron strings emerged from research carried out among 1,652 graduates.

As well as the treasured qualification in their chosen subject, the ability to manage money, build flatpack furniture and make spaghetti bolognaise also made the list of assets gleaned from their time at university.

Budgeting for food and household staples, managing the weekly shop and making friends also made the skills list.

A spokeswoman for Disney Pixar’s Monsters University, which conducted the research , said: “No matter which walk of life you come from, it would seem that university is a great leveller.

“Learning day to day basics such as budgeting, how to book a doctor’s appointment and using a washing machine along with finding out who you are and want to become is integral to the whole university experience.

“There’s definitely a valuable alternative curriculum at Uni with some of it more fun than others.

“Not only does our research confirm this but it also reveals this is not particular to just today’s generation of university students it also applies to previous generations.”

The research also found that in addition to writing dissertations, managing timetables and learning theories, students pick up other life skills such as how to house or flat hunt, how to socialise and how to register at the doctor or dentist.

Having to cook their own meals was another massive eye opener for many – as was learning how to switch on the oven or grill and deciding what can and can’t be microwaved.

Understanding the disadvantages of eating mould also appeared in the list.

Other essential life skills students learn were how to use the bus, general DIY and how to sort out recycling.

It also emerged four in ten of those who took part in the poll were shocked by how little they knew when they left home, with two thirds admitting the whole experience of university was a ‘real eye opener’.

Three quarters admitted they learnt far more at university than their actual degree.

The study also showed many only start to appreciate home when they leave, and a big learning curve was having to cope without mum and dad.

In fact, the stats show during the first few months new students called their mum or dad up to 20 times a month to ask for advice on how to do things, although this petered out as they grew more settled.

One in four said they found making friends difficult and 23 per cent struggled to mix with people from different backgrounds.

On average it took the respondents over four months to feel completely settled and five months to know who their real friends were going to be.

Around four out of ten said they found it hard living with strangers

Interestingly, many students felt they benefited from learning how to go three nights without sleep, while others learnt the importance of power napping during the day.

But there were also some sensible and enriching lessons to be learnt from attending university.

Many said they benefitted from having to go out and find themselves a part time job, while others used the local library for the first time.

In terms of their studies, students were happy to learn how to write footnotes, skim-read long books and master independent studying.


1. Budgeting and prioritising

2. Living with others

3. Doing a weekly food shop

4. Paying bills

5. Studying independently

6. Managing money

7. Making friends

8. Navigate your way around

9. House / flat hunting

10. Socialising with all sorts of people

11. Registering at the doctor or dentist

12. Turning up to lectures at the right time and in the right place

13. Appreciating home

14. Supermarket shopping

15. Coping without mum and dad

16. Skim reading long books

17. Pulling an all-night study session

18. Being considerate towards housemates

19. Using a washing machine

20. Going three nights with no sleep

21. Making spaghetti Bolognese

22. Using the library

23. Socialising in big groups

24. Cleaning

25. The effectiveness of a good nap

26. Writing footnotes

27. Looking for a job

28. Setting up the internet

29. Blagging essays

30. Being a good team player

31. That fridges don’t clean themselves

32. Using fridge space effectively

33. Making sure the house is securely locked / home security

34. Playing pool / pub games

35. Saving energy

36. Blagging ‘group discussions’

37. Getting to lectures in another part of town

38. Using top up gas or electric key

39. General DIY

40. How to use the bus

41. Setting up a television

42. Which dishes are and aren’t microwaveable

43. Sorting out the boiler

44. Sorting recycling

45. Building flat-pack furniture

46. Making scrambled egg

47. Fire safety

48. How to re-use takeaway containers

49. How to turn on the cooker or grill

50. You can’t eat mould