Pretty much every student has Facebook. And when you’re a fresher, Facebook is key to finding out what your new University is going to be like. Anyone can create a page or group for your course. It’s also a great way for people living in the same accommodation to meet and to unearth the clubs and societies on offer. In fact, sometimes it can feel like you know exactly what to expect from University even before you get there! This can be really great and useful (I know for me Facebook was a lifesaver before I started) but there are also some downsides that people don’t always consider.

THE ADVANTAGES

Finding out information from students just like yourself

What better way is there to find out what to bring, what books you need for your course or what’s going on in fresher’s week than by actually asking other people just like you? Remember, everyone is in the same boat when they come to Uni so don’t be worried to post up a question, no matter how silly it sounds, on a Facebook page. You can bet that at least five other people are wondering the same thing and someone will know the answer.

It’s the best way to join events and find out where it’s all happening

Add yourself to groups and people will start asking you to join different events. Yes, this can get annoying when you’re in the summer term of your first year and you’re trying to revise, but in fresher’s week and when you want to go out it is really useful. A lot of clubs have ‘guest-lists’ or promotions which can save you a lot of money. You can, most importantly, see who else is going before you decide to go out too and if you know them well enough or they live nearby, to cheekily ask if you can share a taxi. It beats taking the bus!

It’s a great place to put up all those Uni photos

In years to come once you’ve finished Uni (I know, it seems like ages but it will go fast!) you can look back over your Facebook and see all the memories from the best years of your life. Take loads of photos when you’re there and upload them to Facebook because they’ll be there forever. Just make sure you ‘de-tag’ the bad ones and ensure your parents aren’t stalking you if you have some dodgy photos from drunken nights out!

THE DISADVANTAGES

People aren’t always as they seem online

That hot guy or girl you have started chatting to and developed a crush on before you actually meet could turn out to be in a relationship. Or, the person you always talk to online may just be someone that you say hi to passing in real life. You never really know until you meet them. Most importantly, even if someone has put online that they’re going to be living with you next year or are on the same course, always be aware that you can never really be sure they are who they say they are.

It can be a bit anti-social just making friends via Facebook

Being honest, yes Facebook is useful to find out who you’re living with and who’s on the same course as you, but in practice, you need to go out there and make your own friends as opposed to exchanging private messages. I knew the names of almost half of the people on my corridor at Uni even before I arrived, but until you know who they are in real life, you can’t decide who’s going to become a good friend. Go and knock on the door of the person next to you and make yourself known! Believe me, they will be as nervous as you but they could become a lifelong best friend.

It can be a HUGE distraction

This may seem all well and good but be prepared – I know I’m never without my iPhone in lectures checking Facebook. No matter how dedicated you are to your course you WILL at some point use Facebook as a distraction. Just make sure that it’s not near exam time and that you make up for writing all those lecture notes you’ve missed because believe me, you’ll regret it if you don’t!

Just remember, although Facebook can be really useful, it’s how you use it that determines whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing!

Written by Neela Kumar