In many homes across our county this week, mothers and fathers and guardians alike, weep as their not-so-little ones prepare to fly the nest.
Starting college can be an exciting and daunting experience.
We are thrown from the comfort of our own homes and the secure structure of a school schedule into a world where we obtain something much more desirable and ultimately frightening; our freedom.
Phrases like ‘Mammy and Daddy won’t be calling you out of bed every morning’ may come as an eye-rolling moment now, but take it from someone who is still in the throes of university life, it’s harder than you think, and although the ‘fun’ part will undoubtedly live up to expectation, the experience as a whole can be quite overwhelming at first.
To combat this, and to ensure you are prepared for your first day of college, we have compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you along your way.
1. Fix that summer sleep pattern
The long nights and late mornings many of us become accustomed to during the summer months just won’t fly in University life.
A good sleeping pattern is essential to academic successes. Studies have shown the far-reaching consequences of not getting a substantial amount of sleep include poor academic performance, mental health and behavioural issues and physical ailments.
Lack of sleep also reduces the efficacy of immune systems and that leaves students vulnerable to all the illnesses they are exposed to at University.
If you are one of the many students living independently in college accommodation, consider investing in an alarm clock and some motivation as it will be completely up to yourself to get to your lectures on time for those early mornings.
Despite the odd night on the town, an early night and early morning should be top of your college to-do list.
2. Plan your route
A common nightmare of a student new to their environment tends to be the fear of getting lost and/or missing their lectures as a result.
I would advise anyone that may be unfamiliar with their route to college, or around the campus itself, to take time before their first day to become familiar with their surroundings.
Usually, most colleges have an abundance of long-term students hanging around the campus available to answer your queries or to show you around, all you have to do is ask!
College Maps are also available in most universities and Institutes of technology in print form as well as online. It’s important to remember that a little research can go a long way.
3. Budget! Budget! Budget!
Budgeting your money is not the most fun part of college life, but it is one of the most essential. A good step to begin budgeting is to write out your expected expenditures.
Write down what you expect to spend each week on food, rent, transport, books etc. It’s also important to be realistic in your budgeting.
For a lot of students, nightlife is a big bank breaker, so it would be wise to account for your partying in your budgeting.
Of course, the necessities such as food and rent should be covered first, and your remaining balance to be spent on your entertainment needs.
4. Get Involved
For many, the idea of making new friends in a new environment can be extremely daunting, especially in todays society where there are more people suffering with some form of social anxiety than there are stars in the sky. However, meeting new people in college is easier than you may think.
Many colleges offer a wide range of clubs and societies that you can become a member of, opening the door to large groups of people with similar interests to you.
My advice would be to join and take part in as many clubs and socs as possible, even if you chose to quit, give each one you desire a chance and you’ll be sure to find something you love.
5. Work Hard
The work schedule of university or IT students differs greatly from that of a student of second level education.
Getting up on time is just the tip of the iceberg and some of the changes you’ll face will take some adjusting to. Timetables differ for every single student, as well as the number of in-college hours.
It’s no foreign concept to any college that lectures are always compulsory. However, it is extremely important to remember that work must be kept on top of in college, even if a lecture is missed for whatever reason.
Many colleges offer online guidelines of the coursework, and while these are only guidelines, students should revise the work they have completed each day on such sites, or through designated books or journals.
An experience to remember
No matter where you go or who you go with, there is no doubt that your college experience will be one to remember. Explore your newfound freedom with an open mind and an open heart. A whole new world of opportunity, excitement and freedom is waiting for you just around the corner. We wish each and every student the best of luck and success in their future endeavours, and hope these 5 steps will help you to kickstart your college career.