Going to College this year? Some tips & advice – Part 1

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Me in University College Cork (UCC)

We’re more than half way through the school year and it’s nearly time to fill in the CAO sheet! For some, they could be dreading this moment because they don’t know what they want to do after school, and others have it thought of already.  It’s time to have a good look at all the possible courses that are of interest to you. Looking back now and while I’m currently in my first year of college, there are four things that I would recommend doing before putting down some of your options.

  1. Read the book of modules
  2. Talk to someone doing the course
  3. Do what interests you
  4. Fill up the CAO list

1# Read the book of modules

When your looking up a course on the internet, it’s really important that you read the modules included. The modules are the subjects within your course that you’ll be attending/taking. On the UCC website or on any university website, all you have to do is enter the module code and it will have a detailed description of the subject. Reading the book of modules is vital as it’s basically telling you what you’ll be doing for the next four years during college.

2# Talk to someone doing the course

Even though it’s very simple, sometimes you would forget to find somebody and just ask them a few questions about the course. They could tell you things about the course that aren’t mentioned on the website and also give you advice on where to get extra information as well. The majority of the time it’s better to get information from the horses mouth as they say!

3# Do what interests you

And finally, it’s a cliche but it’s true, pick something that interest you. At least then if you’re excited by it, you’ll want to learn more about it. It’s easier to be self-motivated to learn rather than be forced to learn.

4# Fill up the CAO list

When filling out your CAO course list, it’s better to have more courses listed rather than just two or three. Depending on the year, the demand for courses vary and therefore it’s hard to predict what way the point system will go. Just to be safe having a few back-up courses listed below your preferred course will help if you don’t meet your points quota.

The Quad, University College Cork

A few general college tips

I was lucky that when I was starting college, my two older brothers helped me with any questions I had about college. There are a lot of students starting college and they don’t have older siblings. It can be quite daunting at times all this new information that’s totally different to what you’ve learned previously in secondary school. So I’ve thought of a few small but very useful things to have sorted out before starting college.

  1. Bus/Travel Leap Card.
  2. Timetable
  3. Money
  4. Clothes
  5. Clubs & Societies
  6. Part – time Job

1# Bus Leap Card

If you choose to take the bus or the train to college, getting a pre-paid student leap card is really worthwhile. Every time you pay for a bus trip you save 30%. For example, where I live the bus would normally cost €2.70 per fare, but because I use my student leap card, it costs me €1.89 instead. That’s 81 cent, nearly a euro you save every time, which would add up very quickly.

2# Timetable

Even before starting college you’ll get a timetable of all your subjects and where they’ll take place. In August of last year before college started, myself and my brother went and found all the buildings and classrooms on my timetable. Colleges have a lot of buildings spread all around the campus so they’re plenty of maps on campus to use. Once you get to know your surroundings you won’t need to worry about getting lost and if you do, they are always people that are happy to help.

3# Money

When starting college you spend a lot of your time on campus going to classes all day and at some stage you’re going to get hungry. Either you bring packed food for the day or you can buy food on campus. If you do bring your own lunch, which I do most days, you never need to worry if you run out of food, just always have some bit of money with you as most colleges have restaurants and cafés.

Having spare money with you anyway is always helpful just in case your leap card ran out or you needed to buy something in town.

4# Clothes

As much as some people hate their uniform at school, we tend to forget how easy it was to just throw it on in the morning. In college there is no uniform so we have to put some thought into the clothes we wear everyday. For some, this is easy and for others it’s slightly harder. Simply just planning it the night before saves a lot of time and hassle in the morning.  I found I did a lot of walking to college, getting buses and walking around the campus so I would recommend a good pair of comfortable shoes/runners.

#6 Clubs & Societies

College is definitely a great time to start a new hobby and meet new people. Therefore clubs and societies are a great way of doing that. At the beginning it’s great thinking I’ll join five clubs and five societies but realistically you won’t get the time to go to all of them. You’ll probably only be able to go to one or two. Soon enough college work and assignments will start adding up and you won’t have the spare time to attend. So, when joining any clubs or societies join the ones that you think you’ll enjoy the most.

#7 Part – Time Job

As we all know, college isn’t cheap and as students having a bit of money is definitely helpful. If you’re able to fit a part-time job into your college timetable not only will you be earning some money, it will teach you how to manage your time and college work. When you’re not working during the week, you’re slightly under pressure to have your college work finished before any job shifts.

Join me for part 2 of this post where I will be sharing some tips about studying away at college.

Edel 😊

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