8 Tips for Starting College


Years of watching American tv shows and movies have prepared you for this moment, or at least given you a very unrealistic view of what college life is. You’re now a fresher!

My first week of college included a first year pizza party, a lock and key “ball” (on reflection the innuendo went totally over my head), a county colours night (standard) and a UV paint party (too messy for my liking). The first week of lectures was filled with much confusion over building names and room locations, the realisation of “Oh! The notes are on Moodle - fab!” and clinging to the few people you made friends with during orientation week.

If you’re going to a college where you know no one else, it can be a little intimidating. If you’re going to a college with some friends it’s great for settling in. None of my close friends were in my college and it was a bit intimidating but after the first few weeks of college you quickly get over that. 

So how can I help prepare you for fresher life? I have a few pearls of wisdom.

Put yourself out there

Don’t be afraid to start conversations with whoever you sit beside in lectures, or to go to that party of a kind-of-a-friend of that person you met during induction week who you’ve kind of talked to a little. If you need a little conversation inspiration, check out this TED Talk. Also, don’t be afraid to speak up in class. College, while obviously about academic learning, is also about your personal growth, as cheesy as that sounds. It’s a chance to break out of your shell, develop your interests and grow.

Clubs and societies

These make your college experience - no joke. You’ll get to meet so many cool people with similar interests and develop new skills. The photography and media production societies were my main ones throughout my 3 years. There’s a plethora of clubs and socs to join, and if you garner enough interest you could even start your own! One of my friends started his own TeaSoc the year I finished college and I was devastated that I never got to be part of it.

Do ACTUAL grocery shopping

If you’re living on / near campus, particularly if it’s your first time living away from home, do actual grocery shopping. When I was in college we did our shopping in the local shop because walking 20mins to Tesco was far too much work but in hindsight, it was ridiculous, because you get no change out of €30. If you’re living around Griffith, don’t fall into that trap. Go to a supermarket with a shopping list and get enough ingredients to make a few nutritious meals throughout the week.

Jack of all trades, master of none

To follow on from the above point… Master a few simple dishes that will keep your tummy happy. My go to dishes were chicken korma, chicken pesto pasta, fajitas and pasta bakes. In second year I discovered the Birds Eye Inspirations ie herby fish in a bag that you put in the oven for 20mins and you were done; it changed my life. Check out our college friendly recipes and winter warmer recipes.

Pen and Paper

I know people love their laptop, but from a learning perspective, at least in my opinion, nothing beats writing your notes with a good ole pen and paper. Have an A4 pad, a folder and post-its for each subject to keep all your notes nice and organised. 

Don’t skip class

For years you’ve become used to getting up early to be in school for 9am, but college changes that. Your day may not start until 10am or 1pm or maybe even later so you quickly lose the ability to wake up like clockwork. You may have early lectures or ones you’re just not that into, but you should fight the temptation to not go. One of my favourite lectures was a 2 or 3 hour lecture at 9am on a Friday morning and gosh darn did I make sure I was there for all of them. You miss out on so much by not attending as, believe it or not, lecturers don’t just recite their powerpoints, they go off script and share nuggets of information that you just can’t rely on your friends to note down.

Figure out how to budget

Students have a reputation for being eternally broke. If you ask me it’s because no one teaches us how to budget our money. Set yourself a monthly and weekly budget taking into account how much you need for groceries, college nights out, general socialising, printing, rent, bills, etc. Nowadays it’s really easy to keep track of your spending; use an app like Spendee or Wally. Here are some top tips on saving and living on a shoestring budget.

Find a balance

College is super exciting. You’ve much more independence and much more free time, depending on your degree. Don’t bury yourself away under college work, don’t get overly involved in clubs and socs to the point of them affecting your grades and don’t sit around watching Netflix saying “sure it’s grand, the notes are on Moodle”. Find the balance between your academic life, social life and me time that suits you.

Go forth, freshers and have a fantastic first few weeks of college!

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About the author

Ellie Tallon
Ellie Tallon

Ellie brings her post-college wisdom, endless pop culture references and Mindy Kaling fan-girling to the Griffith Blog. Her calling is digital and content marketing but she still dreams of a job where she gets paid to eat, travel, take photos and quote Firefly.

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