Peer Pressure at University

During your time as a student here in London, you may be exposed to things that you’re unfamiliar with. Sometimes, this means that you will have to make important decisions regarding your own participation. Those around you will be on their own paths through higher education and will be encountering the same decisions – it can often be difficult to make up your own mind without being influenced by your peer group. Peer pressure can cause people to make choices that they’d otherwise not have made, and it can be exerted without knowledge and intent. So, what do you need to know about peer pressure, and how can you be sure that you don’t succumb to it?

Fitting in

The desire to fit in can drive people to make choices that they wouldn’t normally consider. It’s the mistaken impression of some students that, unless they behave in a similar way to those around them, they won’t be accepted or will fail to fit in. Many students will take advantage of the freedom afforded when studying in London to let their hair down, experimenting with alcohol, drugs and sexual promiscuity. Just because your peer group is doing these things it doesn’t mean that you have to do the same, and no-one is going to judge you for making your own decisions in life. If you decide that certain things aren’t for you, don’t join in simply as a way of seeking approval from your peers. Most students will admire you more for being yourself than for going to great lengths just to fit in.

Finding your niche

While your time at university here in London will be primarily about earning a qualification and increasing your employability, it’s also a chance to grow as a person and develop a better understanding of yourself. For some people, university is a time of experimentation where they learn by doing, making mistakes and discovering information about themselves along the way. This may not be the path for you, however, and your time at university could well reinforce the principles you held before you arrived. It’s always a good idea to learn from the actions of those around you but that doesn’t mean that you have to do as they do. While it may feel as though you are expected to join in, ultimately it is up to whether you do or not. If your friends are the sort of people you want to remain in your life for years to come then they won’t judge you, and if they do, it’s an indication that you need to look for a new social group more in line with your own personality.

Peer pressure is rarely exerted with intent at higher education, but the temptation to do as others do in order to fit in can be difficult to resist. If you’re worried about the effects of peer pressure, contact our Student Support team, or get in touch with your university’s counselling service.

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