The Covid-19 pandemic may have changed the face of education in Ireland over the past two years or so.
However, it should not dampen the excitement and anticipation of entering a third level education for the first time.
Lecture halls, classes, laboratories, clubs, societies, social events – it’s a whole new world out there.
While it is a new and exciting opportunity for first-year students attending third-level education for the first time, it can also lead to a lot of questions and concerns.
In many cases, new students leave home for the first time, saying goodbye to high school friends and their town or village. You’re moving to a big city and you may have questions and concerns about college expectations, support, and more.
It’s just natural, as with any major transformation!
With this in mind, Dr. Dan Collins, Director of Academic Administration and Student Affairs at Münster Technological University (MTU), gave some advice to new students before moving on to a third level education.
“The college experience makes it easier for students to launch into adult life,” Dr. Collins explained.
While there are challenges in getting into higher education, there are also great opportunities to develop and enjoy the experience.
He advised “bring induction and guidance”. “Get to know your campus, and orient yourself to where you will spend the next four years as a student.
He added, “Start on the first day with the commitment to attend all your lectures, classes and lessons, get to know your lecturers and actively interact with them.”
Make friends with your classmates, share notes, collaborate on projects, and support each other.
“Support each other for the first few weeks and months – many of them will become your best friends for life.” Dr. Collins also highlighted the importance of participating in extra-curricular activities at your chosen third level institute.
“Participate in clubs, societies, the student union, and other student groups on campus,” he said.
“Take advantage of the various support services available to you, including jobs, counseling, medical care, pastoral care, and more.” Let’s take a look at these pearls of wisdom in more detail.
It may seem a trivial thing but guidance is very important. It allows you to learn about the campus itself, where you will hold your classes, and even gives you the opportunity to meet your new classmates. With that in mind, bring your orientation – it’s the best way to start your college journey!
College is a challenging time full of distractions and changes so it is important to stick to your course and your learning experience. There is plenty of time outside of class to enjoy extra-curricular activities, attend social events, and more. But you’re in college for a reason – to graduate with a degree after broadening your educational background. As Dr. Collins said, commit to attending your lectures, classes, and other class events.
Actively engaging with your lecturers and classmates will put you in good standing throughout the duration of your degree and college journey. Chatting with and getting to know your lecturers will ensure that you are not afraid to ask questions if you misunderstand an assignment, and will give you a good platform to receive feedback on assignments, and participate in future projects. Getting to know your classmates will also prove invaluable as the College is a collaborative forum where you will work together on projects, presentations, and assignments. As Dr. Collins said, many of them could become lifelong friends, so be sure to put yourself out there and get to know them!
Going to college for the first time can be a challenging experience. It could mean that you’re leaving your home for the first time, letting go of friends you went to high school with and branching out on your own. This can leave you feeling homesick, lonely, and anxious. This is all completely normal. It is very important that you support your new colleagues and that they support you. Whether it’s from classmates, roommates, or the person asking for advice or directions at the library, consider kindness. People can struggle after they first go to college – it’s big, bright, new, and scary. The support of those around you will make the experience and the transition easier for them and you.
The college campus is a hive of activity teeming with clubs, societies, and social events. Participating in the sports, clubs, or associations that interest you is a great way to make new friends and represent your college at national events. Whether it’s football, GAA, chess, trampoline, music, drama or politics, you will find something to suit you! In addition to providing great hobbies during your college years, being in a club or community gives you the opportunity to spark your interests. Also looks great on a resume where you’ll be seen as a contributing team player!
There is a wide range of supports and services available to students on university campuses across Ireland, so don’t be afraid to use them. If it comes in handy for a task you’re looking for, academic skills will come in handy. If you are looking for mental health support, counseling services for students are there. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The college is a very collaborative environment and you will find the support you need.