Starting college is like the beginning of a new chapter in your life, and whilst it is a time filled with excitement, there’s probably a cloud looming overhead with the fear of the unknown.
From making new friends to navigating around your new campus, it can be a nerve-wrecking time. Trust me when I say it will all just fall into place. Having just graduated from NUI Galway this year, I’m here to share a few things I wish I knew before I went to college.
1. Don’t be afraid to go it alone.
It’s easy to get caught up during the CAO about where all of your friends are planning on going, and if you’re the only one out of your group breaking off onto your own path don’t get too stressed about being a ‘loner.’ Remind yourself that so many are in the same boat as you. During your first week of orientation you’ll come to realise that this is new for everyone. Everyone there shared your feelings of nervousness and they are just as eager to make new friends as you are.
2. And if you aren’t going it alone…don’t let your current friend group inhibit you from branching out and meeting new people.
It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone and stick with your friends, but don’t be afraid to broaden your group.
3. Check out the societies.
It may be an obvious one, but one that I didn’t take advantage of and live to regret. During the first week or two your college will most likely hold a societies day that gives you the opportunity to browse, ask questions and sign up to things like the drama/DJ/journalism soc…the list goes on. So get out there and see what they have to offer!
4. Think ahead
Your first year of college really does feel like it’s all fun and games, but looking back I wish I had been a little more conscious of time and how quick the years fly by. For me, as someone who has always had an interest in journalism I look back at my first year self and kick myself for not getting involved with the student paper sooner. I had so much extra time to put into writing compared to in my final year, and had I just started sooner I could have a lot more experience under my belt. So don’t hold back on looking forward and finding ways to get some XP in whatever takes your interest, you’ll thank yourself for it down the line.
5. Don’t write off your lectures.
One of the best things about college? There’s no one on your back to make you attend classes. One of the worst things about college? There’s no one on your back to make you attend classes. Seriously. It becomes all too easy to knock off another lecture and hang around the college bar, or just stay at home and watch the daytime TV you’ve become far too invested in. But make the effort to attend your lectures, especially if there are attendance marks going for them.
6. Ask questions.
I often found myself sitting at my desk unclear about a certain part (or all of) an assignment that was due. I tended to try and figure it all out myself or ask others in the class but something you need to remember is that your lecturers are there to help you, they WANT to help you. Who cares if you bombard them with a million questions? If it means it will make your life easier and get you a better grade, don’t be afraid to get in contact.
7. Alcohol can not, and never will be a substitute for food.
If you’re living away from home for the first time it can be exhilarating to not have to answer to the parental unit over every single little thing and therefore it can be tempting to spend a lot of nights out and mornings in bed instead of in a lecture hall, but be careful. By all means have fun, but do take care of yourself and be safe on nights out.
8. Prepare yourself to deal with housemates.
It’s kind of unavoidable that you will come up against some not-so-great housemates. Going into shared accommodation means you are up against house sharing with people you may clash with. Whether it’s someone who doesn’t’t quite grasp the concept of cleanliness or a housemate who insists on having after parties until 6am, you will learn the difficulties of living with all different kinds of people.
9. Prepare to get lost…a lot!
Depending on where you are going to college determines your luck in the game of campus navigation. Speaking from my own experience, NUIG campus was a funny one. Even by the end of my 3 years some parts of the college grounds were a jungle in my eyes. I daren’t explore the grounds outside my usual lecture halls. If I ever was feeling brave, I had to mentally prepare to get lost for an hour and to face the embarrassment of passing that one group of people 5 times.
10. You’ll make some questionable decisions.
Just because you don’t remember getting that chicken breast burger meal in Supermacs after a night on the town doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
11. Don’t forget to study!
When exam time rolls around you will inevitably find yourself sitting procrastinating and feeling extremely sorry for yourself. Something I had to remind myself of was that no matter how crappy it is to have to sit and study a mountain of notes now, it would be much, much worse to have to spend part of your summer months studying for repeats. Not to mention the hefty fee some colleges charge to sit repeat exams.
12. Make the most of your time
Depending on what course you are doing, you may have a ton of spare hours in your week now compared to when you were at school. Try to make use of those hours in the best way you can, whether that be by finding a part time job or starting a new class at the gym.
13. Koka noodles are life!
Koka noodles will play a vital role in your college experience. When you’re broke, hungover or just need something quick to line your stomach before a night out, Koka noodles will be there for you. It’s probably for the best that no one really investigates too much into their actual ingredients…but with a price tag of under €1 sometimes you just do what you gotta do.
14. Your student ID card will be your new best friend.
Carry that thing around with you EVERYWHERE! I’m telling you, you will be surprised with amount of places that actually offer a student discount. Even if it is only 10% here and there, when you’re a student every penny counts.
15. Enjoy yourself
Anyone who has been to college will tell you that it goes by in the blink of an eye, so make the most out of it.
What things do you wish you knew before going to college?