The transition from school to university can be extremely tough as you do not know what to expect.
Here are 7 things that you might be worried about. I am here to tell you that if you are worried about it, it is most likely that the majority of your peers are also worried about it!
The first and most obvious one is friends. You might have chosen a course like Business or General Arts, where it is a big course and you might know lots of people doing the same course. Or you may have picked a smaller course where you do not know anybody. During orientation you are split into groups with other people on your course. I understand that some people are more confident than others, but the only advice I have to give you is, no matter how shy and anxious you feel, try your best to make conversation with people. Most people are just as nervous as you are about making new friends, everybody is in the same boat. There will be people that you do not click with and that is okay, but you still have to talk to everyone and give everyone a chance because your future best friend or partner could be hidden in one of those groups!
2. Not Understanding your timetable
Do not be worried if you cannot make any sense of your timetable whatsoever- trust me, you are not alone. Figuring out the room numbers does take some time. During the first seven weeks, there will be students stationed around UL to help you out. I would recommend getting the name of your orientation guide. I study Journalism and New Media and I asked 3 people in a row to help me find the room I was supposed to be in, but one student studied business and the other two were in the engineering buildings so they were not sure where I was supposed to be, as they had never been to the arts department. If you can contact your orientation guide, they are usually more than happy to help. Or just travel in packs, surely someone will be able to figure it out eventually!
3. Getting Lost
Be prepared to get lost. I was once asked by a final year student for directions, the main building is a maze and the campus is huge, so it is easily done. On your orientation, you are given a number to call in case you get lost. TAKE THAT NUMBER DOWN. My friend and I somehow managed to get separated from our group and had to call that number and wait patiently until a hero in a first seven weeks t-shirt came, rescued us and returned us to our group.
4. Worries about how you measure up against your peers
Do not be worried about your classes, you will settle in and just because someone did better in their Leaving Cert than you does not mean they are better than you. You are all starting fresh and on equal footing. If you find you are not settling in, I would recommended you speak to a guidance councillor about changing course, but give it a fair chance and time to adjust to the new teaching method. You are not handed out notes like school, you take your own notes so you must stay focused!
5. Being overwhelmed by the vast environment that you are unfamiliar with
If like me, you came from a small school, you know all your teachers on a personal level. All that is about to change. You are going to be in lecture halls with hundreds of other students. You will have tutorials which consist of smaller groups and you are invited to participate but the atmosphere is very different from school. Do not panic, it may take a while to adjust but you will settle in.
6. Getting along with people that you are living with
Whether you are commuting or moving from home, it can be very stressful. A lot of the students who commute are afraid they will miss out on the full college experience but that is not the case. There are several people on my course who commute, either driving or using public transport and the only thing they might have missed is a 9am lecture if the bus times don not suit- but who’s really complaining about that? As for nights out, once you make friends, you can just stay at your friend’s house! People who move away from home to on-campus accommodation are usually worried that they will hate their housemates – or their housemates will hate them! I personally got very lucky, obviously we had our disagreements but at the end of the day we all got on well and I am happy to have shared that experience with them. Some people got housemates who they did not get along with at all, but even that was not the worst- they just did not hang out together, and if you are on campus, it is only for a year. After that you can find a house to rent with the friends you have made!
7. Striking a work/life balance
Some people are worried about how they are going to balance college work and going out, but it is manageable! You just have to work with your timetable. On the other hand, some people who do not drink are worried about what people might think about them. I do drink, but I would never judge anyone that does not, and I think a lot of people have that mind-set. Also just because you do not drink, that does not mean you cannot go out and have a great time!
I hope you find this helpful and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask any of the first seven weeks staff!