The start of college may seem like a million years ago to some of us; but for others it’s probably all you can think about as you wait patiently for that piece of paper to come in August. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of university life or you’re just about to enter the crazy world of college, here are some tips that a lot of us probably wish we knew when we first packed our bags to head off to college.
1) Your relationship with your housemates is important
Sometimes the people you get thrown in with in student accommodation turn out to be best friends for life, and other times you might want to rip the heads off each other. Your relationship with your housemates may not end up being your favourite but it’s important that you guys get on; or life will be painful.
Make sure you always consider your housemates; whether it means doing dishes, taking out the bins for once, or asking before you invite a boat full of people over. And always talk through any issues you guys have, the last thing you want is to feel awkward in your own home.
2) Sometimes grades don’t count in first year, and sometimes they really do
They don’t tell you much about grades in first year, so here is a golden piece of advice: they usually don’t count for much. Looking back, I wish someone had let me know that even though you should try to do well; first year is the time to have fun, figure out what subjects you like and not to get bogged down about grades. Save the stress for second year. However, this is even more important: sometimes the grades really count. Your first-year grades can count towards whether you get Erasmus or not and can be looked at for placement applications, so if your considering doing either of these, make sure you talk to someone. I have so many friends that had no idea their choice for specialties were going to be down to first year grades – so make sure you know what you’re getting into from day one.
3) Lugging laundry across county borders gets old
Learn how to do your washing and how to work your accommodation’s facilities once you get there, it’s easier for you and your mom. Bonus tip: the biggest shock of moving out was how expensive things like detergent are; steal from home as required.
4) Cooking is not that hard
Learn the basics before you get to college because, sorry to tell you, the freshman 15 is real. Spend the extra money on fruit and pack a lunch for college to save money. Cook in large batches and give the pasta a rest. Take advantage if your college has a free gym, the sudden shock of going out three times a week will get you.
5) College houses do not contain Mammy’s
Your college house will probably be old, possibly covered in mold and definitely not well-stocked. Yes, soap and toothpaste actually cost money and toilets don’t clean themselves. You’ll want to pack your favourite mug from home and a hidden set of cutlery is highly recommended.
6) Things CAN be handed in late
It’s not recommended, but if for any reason (Rag week does not count) you don’t get an assignment done on time, extensions exist. If you’re over-stressed, have a million deadlines, or something happens in life that causes college to take a backseat, talk to your lecturer or year head. They’re human and they usually understand. If an extension isn’t possible, check the late submission penalty – for a lot of courses it’s only 2% per day. College is important, but your mental and physical health are always the priority.
7) The Students Union is one of the most valuable resources in college
Students Unions are never given enough credit. You’ll be introduced to your Union during your first few weeks, but don’t forget about them. Not only do they offer amazing support services, but they will stand up for you if you need them to. If you ever face a problem and you’re not sure where to go; or if you feel you can’t go to your department about an academic issue, you can call the SU confidentially and they will help in any way they can.
8) Put yourself first
If you’re unsure of what you want to do, take some time. There is no rush to get to college even if that doesn’t please the people around you. There’s no point entering a course you’ll end up not liking – it’s a waste of time and money. Or if you have started a course and it’s not for you talk to people. Dropping out isn’t the end of the world – but do take time to give it a chance.
The most important advice to listen to is to enjoy your time in college, because it will be the best time of your life. You’re going to learn so much about yourself and meet so many people. Enjoy every minute of it even if that means you’re not pleasing someone else. This is your time and the most important thing to remember is to have fun!