September 2010 is when I began my first year of college in Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology. I was studying Film & Television production. I was anxious.
Being ripped from the comfort of home and becoming the sole driving force behind my own life was somewhat daunting to me. Looking back on my first year, here are some of the mistakes I made.
One of the main things I regret about my first year of college was that I didn’t mingle enough with new people. I had a group of friends at home, all of which were enrolling in different colleges in Dublin. I found myself visiting their homes, & going on nights out with them instead of making new friends. And it wasn’t because the people I met in college were not friendly or interesting to me. It was just a reaction to wanting to hold onto what I had in secondary school, resisting any change.
When I was in second year I realised this and went onto make lifelong friends with people in the college, but I still missed out on a lot of craic from first year.
2) Carpe Diem
I was very sporadic in my attendance in my first year of college. Although I was only half an hour on the 46a, my attendance record was far from perfect. I know the old line gets trotted out, ‘you do nothing in first year, it’s easy’.
I realise some courses have very little hours in their first years but I have to admit I wasted a lot of time in college doing nothing. Lounging in my room devouring show after show on my laptop. Whatever about attending lectures but if you’re not for attending them then at least do something that is good for your wellbeing. Join a society. If not to find like minded people then just to do something constructive.
Oh! and get up in the morning. It’s very easy to fall into the habit of getting up late. I found myself sleeping in late, feeling more tired, feeling depressed because I hadn’t made anything of the day and then giving up on doing anything productive because it was too late.
3) Kitchen Nightmares
For the love of god learn to cook. And not just pizza. You don’t have to be Jamie Oliver. Learning a few simple pasta dishes and maybe a stew or a stir fry. If you eat crap your going to feel like crap. There’s only so many times you can have beans on toast before your housemates will stage an intervention.
4) Use And Abuse
Any facilities that your college affords you, take. This might ring truer for me because I had cameras & lights that I could rent if I so wished. It was only when I left college I realised the value of what IADT offered me. Never again will you be surrounded by like minded people that will collaborate with you, for free. I don’t know what the equivalent of this is for other courses I know for societies it might mean applying for more funding or organising campus events. Whatever It might mean for you make your college work for you.
5) Fail & Fail Again
Now hold on, I’m not asking you to deliberately fail your exams, that would be downright nutty. But bear in mind that failure is the key to success. For me failure was making a bad film. So I avoided putting myself in the way of failure. For you it might be joining an acting society even though you’re afraid of fluffing your lines, or having the balls to ask someone out then getting rejected. Whatever the situation you can learn from your failure. It will galvanise you.
6) Push Yourself
It was very easy to coast along in my course. There was a feeling that even if you shot a lecturer you could probably still scrape a 2:2. In first year, I, along with others on my course floated along doing the bare minimum. My advice to anyone starting college would be to resist the apathy that can take hold when you first step on campus. If you’re not excited by your course, find something extra curricular that you enjoy. Or maybe think of a course change if you feel indifferent about your choice of degree. The worst thing you can do at college is waste your time.
7) Cut The Umbilical Cord
I’d say in my first year of college I went home nearly every week. Nice homemade dinners, a warm house & an absence of responsibility made for a very comforting blanket. It would have served me much better to go home every fortnight, maybe get a weekend job, find a 5-a-side to join & dip my toe into adulthood.
8) Don’t Make Alcohol Your Social Life
I definitely fell foul to this. There’s nothing wrong with having a few scoops and tearing the arse out of it when you first start college. Just be careful that you’re social life is not defined by drinking. Again, join a society. If you’re social life is purely going out and getting tanked all the time then you won’t be very good company. Towards the end of first year, I was still going out with my friends from secondary school and I didn’t even like clubbing that much, but I felt I had to do it just because it felt like my only social outlet.
So there you have it. Overall, my first year college was a mixed bag. There were ups & downs but I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice before I get down off my soapbox. Perhaps the most important counsel I can give you.
Make loads of mistakes.