As my best friend graduates from Maynooth University today, I’m sitting thinking back on my own college experience. The transition from school to college is something we don’t prepare for, we are thrown in at the deep end and told to figure it out. My 3 years in Maynooth weren’t all bad, I made friends for life, drank pints of Bulmers for lunch, unleashed my inner feminist and learned to solve my own problems. However first year can be incredibly overwhelming and that’s okay. So here’s a little college survival guide with a few tips that could help keep you calm and sane over the first year.
This is your opportunity to make friends in your degree in a relaxed setting. Go out, have fun, and break the ice. It will make walking into lectures and tutorials next week much easier if you can see a few familiar faces. I met some of my best friends in this first week and they got me through the next few years. Plus it’s nice to get break before the work even starts, right!
The Library is your best friend.
I definitely didn’t learn this until my final year and I really wish I figured it out earlier on. Whether you are living away from home or living at home, finding somewhere quiet to read, or work on assignments isn’t easy, so the library is your go-to. And believe me keeping on top of readings and essays is as important as getting involved and making mates. Another beneficial factor of the library is the books- duh! You have access to so many amazing texts you wouldn’t usually have, so go read something out of your field. Being a well read woman is never a bad thing so go get all the knowledge you can.
Pressure Pressure Pressure!
The deadlines are piling up, your family want to see you , your school friends are feeling neglected, your boss needs you to do more hours but all you want to do is stay in bed, watch Netflix and avoid it all. Pressure is a part of your college experience and life in general, so don’t panic, it’s all about time management and looking after yourself. You need to sleep and eat (you can’t survive on popcorn and energy drinks, I tried). Approach your work load one thing at a time, don’t try to do it all at once. Your family and friends will understand you are busy so don’t worry too much, as soon as you’re back on track you’ll have loads of time to spend with them. Juggling college and a job is difficult, college is expensive and you need money for coffee! Explain this to your job and worst comes to worst get a new one! Doing both is amazing but don’t tire yourself out too much. Plan out your week, make timetables, lists or whichever your prefer, you’ll feel better knowing you have a plan. You got this, women are fantastic multitaskers after all!
And finally: College is not for everyone!
It’s okay if you aren’t settling in, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or that it simply just isn’t for you don’t beat yourself up about it. The most important thing to remember is your mental health and well being are what matters and if you start to feel like you can’t do it anymore tell someone. Admitting you are struggling is the bravest thing you can do. If you don’t want to tell your family or even a friend, you can talk to someone in the college. Despite what I used to think, the college are on your side and they want you to have a positive experience once there. They have support there for the times when you feel it’s too hard. At the end of the day, your happiness is what matters, don’t let outside pressure make you feel like you’ve to do something you don’t want to do. Everyone who loves you is rooting for you in whatever you end up doing, so don’t sweat it!