Next month is September and the newest arrival of first year college students will begin their 3rd level education, all around colleges across Ireland.

It is something that we all have experienced in our lives, the opening of that all important brown envelope. The anticipation of what will the future hold. That follows the joy or disappointment of calculating the points up. You begin to hope that you will get the enough points to get, into the college that you have dreamed of attending.

Yes, the receiving of the leaving certificate results is one of the most nerve wreaking experience, in a young adult’s life.

In September, wide eyed first years will take their first classes in a college. A daunting thought for some out there, some who perhaps is reading this now. Everything is new, the teachers now are known as lecturers, the study pattern, and of course new fellow class mates. College is a glimpse of the “real world”. Many will be living away from home and will have to come in terms with the B word. Budget that is. New independence and new surroundings enables people to grow as an individual, make choices and new friendships. It is both an exciting and nervous time in a young person’s life.

However, many colleges all over Ireland, have what is known as a “Fresher’s Week”. This week is aimed to allow new first years to get their bearings in college. It usually begins in the end of September. It's week of events are held including nights out and allowing to sign up to the many societies in the college. This is a good way to ease into college life and make new friends. It is easy however to get carried away with the partying and having fun. So, it is also important that you take care of yourself.

But what advice is given to people in order to ensure that it a successful and safe week for all involved. National websites have upload information as a guideline to all students. One website www.nwdrugtaskforce.ie has uploaded some useful tips on the Alcohol and your money. And of course the aspect of getting home safe. The tips include; 

  • Make a budget and stick to it.
  • Take less cash and leave the bank card at home.
  • Try to avoid rounds in the pub, they’re too expensive and make you drink too quickly.
  • Plan for the end of the night before you start.
  • Never walk home by yourself.
  • Stick  with friends and spilt the cost of a taxi.

There is another website aimed at student called www.Spunout.ie. The article titled “Fool proof guide to Fresher survival”, has a humorous side to Fresher’s week. It encourages people to enjoy themselves and go out and have fun during the week. But it does also strongly advise people about budgeting “Don’t spend the whole term’s money in a couple of weeks.”

The students union of any college will play a vital role in ensure that the Fresher's Week will run smoothly. The  union put together what known as a “Fresher's pack”, included in one of these packs will included information on college life, vouchers for eateries and information on sexual health. When you enter a College you will always receive one of these packs.

There is a lot of planning and preparation that takes place, for this week. The Student union are there all year around to help students in any way they can. More information on the student’s union can be accessed on their main website at www.usi.ie.

Speaking to Nevin Power, a UCC student currently studying a PHD in American Foreign Policy , he spoke about what Fresher Week entails.” What happens during the week is people get settled in to college, “he describes.

There are a lot of parties around the week, due to the new found freedom and having total independence.

However, Nevin insists that this will fade out as people run out of money and many will realize that there is an “academic side also”.

Nevin has also good memories of his own Fresher's week. He said that he “overall found it positive”, he also adds with a smile how he “made a good few friends and got a good impression of student life”.

The Student Express ( a weekly newspaper in UCC) has a special edition out for this week, to advice students about college life.Nevin laughs as he recalls a quote from the paper back in 2006,one of its first points was, “Don’t go out with somebody in your class, it could get awkward”, he adds that it was “a good point”.

Nevin sums up Fresher's Week as, “It's the first week of self discovery.”

I am a recent graduate. I did enjoy my student life greatly.College made me grow and gain new found confidence and made some incredible friends along the way, whom I wish to keep in contact with for years to come!

Here are some of my tips for studying and surviving college.

1.Do take a break for at least 15-20 minutes during study, especially if you study over an hour.

2.Don't have any distractions i.e. T.V, internet, IPod and Phone (I did learn this the hard way).

3.Write notes on colour paper, it is easy to remember to points, it’s best to bullet point them.

4.Don't listen to music when studying. 

5If you really want to listen to some form of music, it is recommended to listen to classical        music only, as it's easier to retain that all information (You can thank Beethoven later!)

6.It is probably best to go somewhere quite when trying to study, like the college library. It is harder for your friends to drag you out that place.

7.Don't be afraid to decline an event for a night out, especially if you have morning classes, I have seen this from other peoples mistakes.

8.Try not to skip classes (yes, I am guilty of skipping a few).It is always harder to catch up with notes.

9.Always have a proper meal during the day, never skip lunch. You will need this after hours of hard work and studying.

10.The student card that you receive is like a precious gift. Take it with you everywhere. You can great discounts on clothes etc.

11.For travelling to college by bus. I would recommend that you buy a bus pass for a week or a month. You generally will receive a discount on travel with the student card.

12.When going on a class party or night out, do let either a family member or a friend where you are and a rough time of when will be home.

Student life is not all about study, study until you feel like your brains will explode and you can't handle any more of the books. Student life can be balanced so you can mix put in the hours of study and in your free time to unwind and have a bit of fun.

College is a glimpse of the “real world”.

Embrace college, remember this will be where some of your best memories will be created. It is like starting a new chapter of a book.

Best of luck on your course choice!

 

Here are a few of helpful websites in seeking advice on the college life and wellbeing:

www.campus.ie

www.spunout.ie

www.usi.ie

www.drinkaware.ie