University students are regularly criticised for drinking too much, getting up to silly antics and generally being layabouts. However, Channel 4’s latest fly-on-the-wall documentary “The Secret Life of Students” aimed to show another side to students.
The four part documentary, which came to a conclusion on Thursday, July 24th, 2014, followed 12 freshers in their first year at the University of Leicester, exploring the drama of their new experiences. In addition to their experiences, the documentary also showed every text, tweet, picture, video and status update the students posted online.
The latter was achievable thanks to a new piece of technology called the Digital Rig (D:Rig), which, according to co-exec producer of the show Dimitri Doganis, sends their data “back to a secure central server in near real time”. This allowed the documentary production team to fully monitor the students – something the NSA would be particularly proud of.
As you would expect, “The Secret Life of Students” featured a range of freshers from a number of different backgrounds and conflicting interests. For example, teetotal Lauren was nervous about stepping foot in a club for the first time in Freshers’ Week, whereas self-confessed ladies’ man Aiden loves to go out.
However, as well as showing the students partying, sleeping around and (most surprisingly) attending lectures, “The Secret Life of Students” also displayed some of the issues freshers regularly struggle with. Such pressures included financial difficulties, having to look after a two year old child and long-distance relationships. These problems and the way in which they were resolved were excellently highlighted over the course of the documentary – something that should be commended.
Nevertheless, the main element “The Secret Life of Students” highlighted was the way in which technology has transformed the university experience. Parents and friends are a simple text or phone call away and social networks allow for interaction like never before. Even the way in which we date in this technological era was evident, with one participant in the show meeting her boyfriend through Twitter.
While there are questions surrounding privacy (which is quite ironic for a television programmed named “The Secret Life of Students”), the documentary was brilliantly put together and it raised some very interesting points about student living. Fingers crossed for a second series.
If you missed “The Secret Life of Students”, you can catch up with the series on 4OD.