Sally-Anne Shrimpton, 21, has just graduated in Design History at the University of Brighton.

I come from Epsom, Surrey, which is a quiet, provincial town at the best of times. When I got the chance of going to university I decided I wanted to go to a city. I wanted the good clubs, nightlife, cafes, bars and interesting people. That's why I chose Brighton.

I knew I would enjoy myself as I'd heard about student life being a non- stop series of pub sessions and club nights with no pressure to get to lectures and the chance to sleep in as long as you like. Although it can be like that, I was surprised at how serious everyone was about studying. Your social life is important, but only a few let it rule their study and they tend to drop out.

Most of the time you are trying to balance your social life with your studies and there is a constant battle about which should take priority, especially as there are so many incentives like cheap beer, student nights and lots of party-mad friends.

There are also lots of drugs around and lots of students do experiment and come unstuck. But at least you have a very good support network.

Most students go mad in their first year, become more disciplined in their second and really knuckle down in the final.

It is difficult learning how to discipline yourself and make sure you plan your work properly, especially when there is no one there to tell you off for being late, missing classes or not handing in work.

I was very naive when I left home and a bit nervous. I think I'm a lot more confident and streetwise now, and more focused on what I am doing. If I'd stayed at home I wouldn't know half the stuff I do and I don't think I'd be half as interested in as many things as I am now.