After five years of college, Dairne Black knows a thing or two about the dos and don'ts that will make your time in college one you'll never forget...

It’s been seven years since I started college, and right now, at this exact moment in time, to say I’m missing it, would be pretty accurate. I don’t have any Freshers Week or anything like that to look forward to, no new lectures or modules. I have job hunting, a career ladder and a future to figure out.

Get the head down

I wish, more than anything, that I’d known the value of college and how much of an impact it would have on the rest of my life. I wish I had taken things a bit more seriously, and focused more, knuckled down and just got on with things. I wish I had studied more, researched more and done what I was supposed to be doing.

Stay informed

I never ventured to the library in first year, until the very end. Do yourself a favour, and find out where it is, and familiarise yourself with it. It’s not scary, it’s full of stuff that can help you with everything and full of people who can help. Study, I can’t stress that enough, study. Do a little bit each day and you won’t fall behind or get bogged down at the end. It’s so simple and easy, but if it was and is, why didn’t I do it? Don’t be afraid to Google things aswell, extra information gives you the edge and lecturers like to see you think outside the box. Swallowing textbooks doesn’t prepare you for the real world. Forming opinions, theories and ideas does.

Lay off the Red Bull

Stay away from junk food. I used to be a great advocate of the chicken fillet roll (lettuce and cheese in case you’re wondering) and Diet Coke. In fact, any kind of junk food was my vice. During exam season my library desk would be littered with sugary rubbish. Don’t get me started on the energy drinks, two cans of blue bear for €1? Sure how could I say no to a bargain? I ate chocolate, crisps, and essentially instead of my mind ballooning with knowledge, my tummy did. Stick to fruit and water, wholegrain rolls, and healthy snacks like nuts. They’ll keep you awake longer and eventually, when you feel really tired, it’ll be from studying and not the gunk you were eating.

Know your limits with drink

A naggin a week, lets the social life speak (like what I did there? ) really though, pace yourself with regards alcohol. Sitting in a lecture hall hungover, and seriously considering slyly throwing up in your handbag is not a situation anyone should ever be in (thanks,Trinity RAG Ball 2013). Being drunk and wasted is not attractive, nor is it healthy by any means. You may think you look like Beyonce or Justin Timberlake on the dance floor, attempting to woo the opposite the sex, but in truth, it’s all a bit cringey. Know your limits, and try and stick to them. Any lecture before 12 in the day when you’re hungover is incredibly painful, particularly the bus journey in. Do yourself a favour and don’t go mad on a regular basis. Your studies will suffer. Alcohol should be enjoyed, not abused. Binge drinking is dangerous on a number of levels, and remember, this kind of drinking only lasts during college. When you hit the real world, no one really does it, and if they do, it’s once or twice a week.

Get involved

Join societies! There’s enough articles on Campus to convince you why, this is thankfully one thing I did do, and I’m so glad! Go and join! Do it now!

Be who you genuinely want to be

Be yourself! Be your wonderful fabulous awesome self. I spent years figuring out who I was and trying to adapt and change for different people. It’s not worth it, trust me. People will like and love you for who you are, not who you try to be. I can’t tell you how much I wish I had known that. I used to try and dress a certain way, be a certain way, act a certain way, and for what? Hiding behind masks should only be done at Halloween, not during college. Be proud of yourself, you’ve come this far, achieved so much, beat the Leaving Cert, don’t let silly people bring you down. You’re better than that.

Don’t worry if you don’t love your course

Where you are now, is not where you’ll be forever, you might be in a course you don’t like, or didn’t get the points you wanted. All is not lost. I promise you that. I was a terrible student in first degree, and when I finally left, it was like a weight had a lifted. Life keeps going, things change and people move on. You have the power, right now, to do so much. This course could be the gateway to another course and another one after that. You never stop learning. Don’t forget that.

Be brave and achieve all you can

Lastly, I wish I hadn’t been so shy and I wish I had attacked things a bit more. If you want something, go for it. Don’t let a piece of paper or a lecturer tell you otherwise. Speaking out is the only way to get anything done these days. Don’t give up, and I say that as someone who is battling the job market in Ireland right now. Don’t fear rejection, it improves you and builds character, yes, I sound like aul wan and I am. Refuse to take no, and, as comedian/actor Steve Martin once said ‘be so good they can’t ignore you’. Be the best you can be, hit your potential and go further..

College is a big wide ocean, but like Dory says in Finding Nemo, "just keep swimming".