Are you starting college in a couple of weeks?

Oh I remember the feeling so well. That "grown up stuff" feeling of accepting the CAO offer and knowing that the next chapter of life was about to begin. It was scary, it was exhilarating and it was a leap into the unknown.

Savour those roller coaster feelings. So many opportunities are waiting for you.

In my own case, I went to study Financial Maths and Economics in NUI Galway and I was terrified. TERRIFIED. I was so nervous about meeting all those new people in my class, about leaving home and the totally new social situation that I was facing into. I had found my comfort zone in the Leaving Cert as I knew how to study very effectively. I knew that college was a whole other story where I could be lost in a lecture hall and knew how much that intimidating social life was part of the college experience.

Well, let me tell you that it was the most amazing four years and here's why:

1. The reason that you're in secondary school with others is a matter of geography and in college it's is a matter of interest.

My cousin Fiona told me that and I didn't understand until the day I met my Financial Maths & Economics crew. I always loved maths. Five of my eight subjects in Leaving Cert focused on numbers and let's just say that didn't always earn me a lot of street cred in school. However, I knew that I had "found my tribe" when my fellow students and I made up formulae to remember each other's phone numbers. Suddenly, I realised they were just like! I reflection on this at my college friend Brian's wedding in Portugal this Summer.

 

Freshers Week Jpg

2. Societies and clubs in college open a whole new set of opportunities, fun times and friends.

During the Clubs and Societies Day, I joined lots of groups and that enabled me to find a whole other set of experiences. My friend Grainne and I went on a week-end trip to the Mourne Mountains with the Mountaineering Society. I watched several fraught debates at the "Lit & Deb Soc" and I've written before on the blog just how incredibly influential public speaking has been for my career. However, joining Business Soc proved utterly transformational. Every Monday night, I would listen to an entrepreneur come in and tell their story of how they built a business from our age. I was lit up with inspiration, emboldened by their sense of resilience and instinctively knew that it would be for me one day. Little did I know that the Business Society would literally walk me up to that opportunity and so much more, but that's a story for another day. The moral of this story is to join every club and society that you've time for and it will give a whole new dimension to your campus life.

 

 

3. A job doesn't just earn you money, but builds invaluable life experience for every aspect of your future employability

At any given time, I had four income streams on the go. I used to work in a corner shop, babysat, was a USIT rep, filled out market research surveys etc. I had enough money to do all the things that I needed to do and sometimes the things that I wanted to do. However, I met lots of lovely people along the way and I discovered a strong work ethic that I would need to draw on for decades hence. Today, in the workplace, the two most sought after skills are communication and problem solving. Getting any job requires the former and holding on to any job requires the latter. Of the top ten most important skills required for a good C.V. today, each one of them can cultivated within a part-time job.

One last thing is that you may be thinking that there is so much to think about right now, what if you forget something?! A super useful tool is the ConsumerHelp.ie "Going to College" checklist.

Enjoy every moment and reach for the stars!


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