College: The things they don’t tell you…

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Looking at it from the other end of the college experience, it’s hard not to envy those bright-eyed leaving certs who will be heading off to third level next week. But while there’s countless guides in the papers and online about how to make the most of college, here are the things no-one tells you about the whole thing.

  1. You’re there to learn.Some of you might stop reading right now. But the purpose of college is, in fact, education. Never forget it. Sure, you might have a few scrapes academically and most students have pulled an all-nighter to get an assignment in, but keeping the hand in with your work is advisable. You might have friends who can go on three day benders, sit a test and come out with an A1, but most people don’t have this freakish ability.
  2. While we’re on the academic stuff… You are on your own. Some lecturers are more hands-on than others, but even the most touchy-feely tutor will not spoonfeed you. The purpose of a university education is to help you develop your critical thinking and make your own academic discoveries; the purpose of the Leaving Cert is to regurgitate information. First years get a shock every time. Oh, and by the way, English does not involve writing stories like it did in school. I found out the hard way.
  3. Know your limits.I have an unproven theory that the quieter the secondary pupil, the madder the student. College is the time for madness. Stealing road signs, drinking your body weight in vodka, rooftop parties; you do things in college you will never be able to do again, and will probably cause a grimace of discomfort when you’re thirty. But know your limits. If you have had the fear for three days, or you’re missing deadlines, or drink is becoming either a crutch or not your friend, cut back. You should recognise when this happens. If not, that’s another problem.
  4. SEX.Now I have your attention… For the love of God, be careful. Do you want to tell your charming daughter/son in ten years how mammy and daddy met? “Well, it was a house party. Daddy was playing flip cup and things got a bit hazy after that but anyway, that night is how you got your name. It’s where you were conceived, Coppers.” STDs aren’t much craic either. Shift whoever the hell you like but shift responsibly.
  5. Money.Some people are lucky that mammy and daddy pay for everything. I hate these people. But more of us have to work or budget to within the penny. You can live on a tenner a week if you wander around the reduced section in Lidl. I would go as far to say you haven’t had the real college experience if you haven’t lived on three biscuits and a tin of soup for a week.
  6. Last but not least: housemates.It’s a real lottery. You can move in with someone you know, but they could be horrendously messy and/or crazy. Or strangers, who could turn out to be your best friends. I would advise finding one TV programme you can bond over as a family; good candidates include Home and Away and Geordie Shore. It’s like team building for college students.

Well there endeth the lesson. Go off, have fun and remember, these are the best days of your life!

With five years of university under her belt, The Daily Shift’s Roisin Peddle gives you a few tips and tricks to survive college…

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