Dear Dad, Send Money

The Timeless Tale of Students Begging Parents for Cash

Oh, the tales we hear of university students surviving on ramen noodles and dreams of graduation. From the sounds of it, you’d think it’s a modern-day crisis, born from our economic climate, a symptom of skyrocketing tuition fees and stagnant wages. Well, dear readers, buckle up because we’re about to embark on a trip to Ye Olde Timey Universities, where it seems, some things never change.

Consider this: a staggering 51% of Canadian students admitted they needed to tap the Bank of Mom and Dad last year because, surprise surprise, they ran out of cash faster than a cheetah chasing lunch. But here’s the kicker – this isn’t some millennial or Gen Z fad. It turns out, students begging their folks for cash is as old as the universities themselves!

Let’s cast our minds back to the Middle Ages, to a time when uni students were less about studying AI and more about discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Picture this: you’re a medieval dad, returning home after a long day of knight-ing (I presume this involved a lot of horse-riding and dramatically removing helmets). You sit down, open your latest parchment mail, and what do you find? Yet another ‘request’ (read: desperate plea) for money from your kid studying at the University of Ye Olde Oxford.

As one exhausted Italian dad wrote way back then, “A student’s first song is a demand for money, and there will never be a letter which does not ask for cash.” If you think Venmo notifications are annoying, just imagine how our medieval ancestors felt!

But it’s not all “send money, plz” – students of yore knew a thing or two about buttering up their folks. For instance, here’s an excerpt from a letter sent by two brothers in the 1220s:

“To their very dear and respectable parents… This is to inform you that, by divine mercy, we are living in good health in the City of Orleans and are devoting ourselves wholly to study…We occupy a good dwelling, next door but one to the schools and market-place, so that we can go to school every day without wetting our feet…”

Smooth move, boys! It’s like saying, “Hey, Mom and Dad! Guess what? We’re not dead, our roommates aren’t criminals, and we don’t even have to wade through a muddy path to go to class. Isn’t that amazing? Oh, by the way, can we have some money for parchment, ink, and maybe a little bit for new shoes?”

Now, I bet you’re wondering what happened next. Well, history doesn’t record how often these pleas were successful. But judging from the fact that most students didn’t pawn off their books or end up on the streets, I’d say the odds were pretty good.

So, next time your child, grandchild, niece, or nephew sends you a text with that dreaded dollar sign emoji, just remember: at least you’re not reading it on a crumbling piece of parchment. And hey, at least they’re not asking for cash to pay off their tab at the tavern…I hope.

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