10 Lies College Tells You Before You Even Get There

College. There’s just nothing quite like it. You’re probably never going to have another four or so years with the same liberation, the same shoulder-shrug attitude to life. Eating cold pizza, passing out on your friend’s couch, forgetting arguably most of what you went there to learn. Ya….college….definitely just like the movies.

I’ve decided to write this blog to continue pumping the vein of my recent content. Why? Well, partly because I have the luxury/benefit/fear of being on the other side, staring back at my undergrad with an unwelcome hindsight. And if I’ve learned anything from my time on the gridiron, it’s that at first, most people really don’t know what they’re doing, then they think they know what they’re doing, then a year further on they wake up six weeks late to a lecture in someone else’s jeans and finally, they admit to themselves.

In college, nobody knows what they’re doing.

Perhaps the whole thing would run a lot smoother if we didn’t have so many damn preconceptions. Movies, television, friends. They all sell us a different college experience, most of them only half-shadows of the reality. But not all half-shadows are made the same; some fake news just sells better than others.

Here are the top 10 things I wish I’d never been told about college.

1. SUSI, be grand

This of course only applies to the Irish experience, but every country shares in the misery, the sad realisation that college, in fact, costs 1 x arm and 1 x leg.

You’d be forgiven for thinking you could do it all on the cheap. “Student Discount,” they said, waving fliers and free pens and a half-box of caramel Freddos. But in a world where that same chocolate now requires a tracker mortgage, you just can’t do college on a dime anymore.

freddo

Outside of the obvious costs of fees, accommodation, travel and your course itself, the day-to-day expenses are what really grab you, stab you repeatedly in the stomach and mutter “For the Watch” under their breath (seriously, if you don’t want Game of Thrones spoilers, get on out of here!) A cup of coffee might cost you a kidney, a lunch out could do you for a heart, and a night out?

Have you got, like, a twin?

2. Everything from the course is relevant

If working a job in your relevant field during your degree does anything, it’s to remind you that, career-dependent, very little if any of your theory might be relevant. Most students quickly realise that literally no future employer ever is going to swing round the door of their office and say, “Hey Mike, can I get Maslow’s Pyramids of Needs on my desk by lunch? Thanks buddy. You know, you really are the mitochondria of this place. What’s a mitochondria?” *Grabs by the face* “IT’S THE POWERHOUSE OF THE CELL”.

*Cough* Ahem.

Sadly, other students aren’t exposed to the working world until, well, they leave college itself. And it’s only then, facing a swarm of angry customers, that they back into a corner, shaking, tears streaming down their face.

“Pluzz, just form a normal distribution.”

norm

3. Nothing from the course is relevant

On the flip side, some students prefer the cavalier approach of announcing from the very first lecture “Haha, but in the real world x is y not z. Who needs z?” You’ll probably notice they also talk a big game about “making connections” and “engaging with real businesses” (they may forget to mention their parents own one, two, maybe twenty of those same businesses).

Of course, they encourage you to have the same attitude, to just rock up to the roundabout of life in third gear in the wrong lane with no signal and oh God what’s that behind the wheel, is that a baby?

*Cough* Ahem.

Some 9 to 5’s actually share a good deal of crossover with their college counterparts, and while there’s always that one story of “that fella who never hires people who got 1.1s”, it stands to reason to not throw your grades off a cliff just because it’s funny to hear them scream on the way down.

4. The food is great

When I first stepped into college, I kinda imagined it would be a bit like Zoey 101, maybe just fewer scooters and without the same GREAT theme tune.

Unfortunately, I quickly learned that they didn’t have dacent sushi bars or foot golf or even that weird energy drink I’d been looking forward to. Instead, we kinda just got stuck with this weird alt-reality where all food came in roll format. Breakfast? Roll. Sausage? Roll. Chicken? *checks chart* Roll.

And at some point I realised that there was probably an Italian man sitting in the mountains above Milan, sipping wine at the pool, counting stacks of Pasta money.

“Ah Irish students, you make-a-me so happy.”

Is that racist? No, it’s Mario Kart. Mario Kart can’t be racist.

mario.jpg

5. The parties are awesome!

If I was let down by the food, then oh dear was I let down by the parties. That’s not to say those four years didn’t see memorable moments, but most weren’t the college dorm ragers I’d imagined. Often, they were nothing more than a few friends, five or six souls sharing a drink in the corner of a bar. A few close hearts wandering the empty backstreets or spread out under the stars, laughing at a joke they couldn’t remember. They certainly weren’t red cups and breakdancing and people swinging from the chandelier while Fallout Boy played in the kitchen.

The [insert college party at classmate’s house here] actually wore on me fairly fast. I’m probably an exception, but I think everyone would agree there comes a point three hours into the night where suddenly, collapsed in a chair, the walls start to look odd and you half-feel Stephen King is about to write you into a horror story. Everything in the house that’s supposed to have legs (chairs, tables, that room-mate who studies med) doesn’t while everything that shouldn’t just gets up and crawls off half way through the night.

You sort of transition from hearing the music to feeling it in your head to tasting it at the end of your drink.

*Spits* “Ughh. Why does Avicii taste like mouthwashed motor oil?”

prty

6. Study is easy. College is easy

I think after Leaving Cert most students feel they’ll never sit a real exam again. Just college ones. LOL. Hand me my A, teach!

Sadly, Leaving Cert sells you a lie. It promises you a world where there’s a limit, where you just have to learn to a certain point and then just hand it all back. In college, there’s no defined limit, just this vague space filled with a lecturer’s voice on repeat.

*Echoes* “How long is an essay? Well, how long is a piece of string?”

College correctors act as though nobody has anything better to do than to wait for Murray et al to drop their fire new lit review 2017. Reference something from over 5 years ago and you might as well hand up cave drawings in support of your answer. Give ’em anything not double-spaced and they’ll look at you as though you just tried to sacrifice them to the flames.

The harsh truth is that most people try for half the first term, give up for most of the middle, and then rush it all in at the end.

That’s weird. I just had this random urge to write the word Arsenal. Anyway.

arsena

7. I’m going to make so many friends!

This is sadly the saddest of all sads that one learns through college. We all pass through those doors thinking we’ve just inherited a fortune. A fortune of FRIENDS that is.

*Sigh* I digress.

Most people I know agree that you definitely make friends, lots of them even, but they’re all just really hard to define. Some are lifelong, others are temporary, and some just sort of hang around long after their expiration date which, to be fair, is very college-esque of them. You could rename college “Acquaintance Land” and very few people would know the difference. Not that acquaintances are a bad thing, but for those who want more, you really just don’t have the time to sincerely commit yourself to 200 people. In fact, it’s not fair on you or those people to try. Choices will have to be made, but with luck, you’ll filter out the racists and the maybe-serial-killers and the ones who won’t participate in pizza at 3 am. Which brings me to my last point.

8. Participate

This is as true about life as it is about college. We’re all sold the idea that people just want to get involved, that they’re on the verge of it, that any moment now there’ll be a coffee morning or a flash mob. In reality, there is Netflix, and tea, and bed. Participating in anything at all requires effort, energy that could be better spent at home enjoying blankets and chocolate and Season 2 of Suits.

But the great thing is that sometimes you can share a pizza  buy two pizzas.

And that in itself is why it doesn’t matter what they tell you about college.

Because nobody talks to you about the times they fell asleep at house parties and missed the night out, or the times they slammed their head on the table in the library, or the times they just sat in a corner of college and watched the other people drift by. Because you just can’t sell those things.

And that makes me glad.

Because you can’t put a price on them either.

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. I lied, number 9 and 10 did not exist.

10 things not to do in the library

There’s enough of these during study months etc, but I said I’d get in early since the examples are rampant. With a swarm of new faces in college, the incidence has spiked and so here I am to countdown ten of the things people in the library will remember your face for.

1. Hiding your facebook

Look, we know you’re on it. Don’t try hide it in a separate tab, or minimizing your screen, or stretching to block the screen. Anybody with a laptop that has 1/100th of a bar of connectivity and is between the ages of zero and twenty five (because after that, it’s all downhill) will instinctively throw up their social networks on their internet. Nobody is gonna judge you, embrace it.

2. Leaving the sound on anything

Phone? Laptop? Breathing? If I’m next to someone and they have their sound on it gets to me. Not because it interferes (in fact all teenagers are don’t even notice it in this day and age), but because it puts out the idea that “yes, I do know it’s on. What ya gonna do?” Well I’m gonna walk right over and smash your stupid overpriced flip phone give you a look, I guess.

3. Bringing your friend over

OK, this one tops all as the worst thing in the library. During study month you’ll inevitably get that one guy who ambles from desk to desk advertising to his determined and anxious class mates how he, a jolly lad, is in the library. So novel is the idea of studying in a new building, or just studying at all, that this man must parade his four pages of food stained notes from bench to bench loudly whispering how he knows what is coming up. For those in august, I’m sorry, he’ll be back.

4. Putting on a movie

My god anywhere but the library. Nobody ever watches “Schindler’s List” in the library. Nobody sits back and throws on “Titanic”. No. It is always dodgeball or step brothers or the last king of scotland. OK, so that last one is irrelevant, but I saw it recently and it was very good. Just watch it in the corner if you must. Does it always have to be in a middle desk with the volume high up and the jokes pouring out from the leaky gaps of your ear debilitating headphones?

5. Leaving for like 3 hours

Everyone knows those seats that everyone wants. They have a good view, not too much light, A PLUG. Please don’t be that never-present ghost who has been reserving the seat since before the cold war. I’ve seen desks empty all day. Soon, I can imagine the library staff will take to declaring some people legally dead due to their absence. RIP lads…

6. Taking a phone call at your desk

RING!!!! RING!!!! “hello, ya I’m just in the library. what? SPEAK UP.” <—–This guy. Does the hallway not exist as a point to some people? Do they just assume the initial door opened up to their desk and they did not move through any area where noise was tolerated to a phonecall level? No? Shocking….

7. Printing….oh…just an entire book

Page, page, page, page, page,page…..And it just keeps going! You stand there in sheer disbelief as to when this will end, afraid you have been caught in some kind of time loop where the print job just won’t finish. I think a 50 page rule is about fair. Even at that, I’d be hoping that was 25 front and back. God like just buy the book you’re probably paying the equivalent anyway. Can only imagine what would happen if UCC Boole had colour printing.

8. Incessant walking syndrome

That one person who you’re wishing the white-coated library staff would come over to and lash to the bench. You’ve seen this person do 6 laps of the floor already, and if anything they are picking up speed. They also make sure to take the most awkward and longest possible way around each area, making sure to kick enough bags that they have to make scratchy “sorrys” all day long.

9. The Beast

That one guy (hardly ever girls) who brings a four course meal to the library. Chicken roll, drink, crisps..wait,what is that, is that a dip? And the best part is he is on some level conscious so he makes sure to drag on the eating process for some forty minutes. Each snap of a crisp is another flick to your patience, and slowly but surely you find yourself packing up and moving off.

10. Keyboard slapping

SPACEBAR. The single most slapped key in all of library time-space, possibly closely followed by enter. And of course this guy left 3,000 words to the last four hours, so he is allllll slap slap slap. And just once..the girl or guy will get to a stage where they need to skip a couple lines….

Tips on how to reduce your procrastination for study

Fairly self explanatory, we all do it. In fact I’m in the library right now doing it in all fairness. Study can be interesting, but even interesting might not be enough to convince you to take on such a task. Exercise is fun too, but its the thought of effort that puts us off more than the actual act. Over the years I’ve put up with enough of my own procrastination to know where everybody stands, and so I’m gonna share a couple things that have worked for me when it really mattered.

1. Stop telling yourself something is unimportant

Maybe it’s a small essay or a presentation, but it still matters. Telling yourself you won’t need to put in effort is a certain predecessor to you actually not putting in any at all. Even for small percentage tests, tell yourself that everything about it is crucial. don’t listen to what anybody else is doing. Find out just how much you need to do and then go do it. 

2. Reward yourself

A common device for avoiding backing out of your studies is treating yourself after. Mostly students use a food item or a night on the town. While that may be good in the short term, try to plan your long term reward system on something healthy and beneficial. If you have a study system, take a day off. If you want to go somewhere or buy something relatively inexpensive, do it. Giving yourself an item to reach is a useful and versatile tool into convincing you to study. What can work better again is having the security that you won’t get what you want unless you put in the work (i.e. have parents/friends assure you they will refuse you that certain present you’ve been planning as your reward).

3. Stop thinking about your procrastination

Procrastination is a ten dollar word every nine year old in the developed world knows. The concept has become so common place that it now is a essential thread of student life and rarely will remain hidden from the guidance books of your place of study. What will guarantee procrastination is thinking about it. Most sufferers tell themselves before the assignment is even started they have no hope. Most will tell all their friends about their procrastination, and try fob off that they are not at all worried. Using the term and the idea of you being stuck in its grasp will only make it worse. Instead, forget about it. Realise that you are fully capable f doing the work and go tackle it.

4. Lose all distractions

A procrastinating student will find distractions with incredible ease. Whether it’s a match, a day out with friends or just a dish that really needs a good scrub, all victims will search out every point of their life to find something to distract from the task. To avoid this, pick a day on which you will work and a time. do not let that time center around anything else but the job at hand. Make sure you can’t be called away or interrupted, as your will will succumb if you even have half a chance at escape. Tell your family or room mates to not disturb you or offer you anything in the form of entertainment. And when you reach your time goal/work load goal, stop. A good first step is to complete just one day’s work level and leave it. You don’t want mad bursts and then the after thought that as a result you won’t need to do anything else.

5. Never take the advice of somebody else doing the work too

We’re all human. As a result although we strive to be honest, helpful and supportive, we mostly end up serving our own desires. How often does a victim of procrastination end up suffering in terms of grades because others dragged them further down. If you have procrastination, do not ask how others are getting on. If you really need help, ask someone who you know will be fully forthcoming about what they have achieved or put in. At all costs avoid people who will only (as is in their human nature) feed you false senses of security about how fine it will all be. You don’t want to be calm as a procrastinating student. You should be worried. These students will most likely fulfill their own work first then find ways to meddle in your own.

6. Find the right balance

A good balance involves knowing at the end of the day that the whole world wasn’t just study. It also involves the knowledge that the work is done. You should be comfortable with your own level of performance. Many procrastinating students will put down their efforts as the process was still daunting. This will not help going forward. Take each small success with renewed expectations, and push to better yourself every time. Procrastination is a long term effect of a short term uncertainty.

 

Reasons your study isn’t increasing your exam marks

I’m going to go and guess that if you’re reading this you already do some level of study for your classes. If you can’t study, or just downright refuse to do so, then this might not be much help. I might write a blog soon for people who struggle with study. This blog is assuming you want to improve though, and in fact have put in some effort to do so in the past. I realise college has just started, and nobody is studying, but the advice works on any scale. Whether it’s a two page assignment, or a 6,000 word project, study skills are equal in nature. If you find yourself struggling to study for smaller tests, it would serve you a lot better to get into good habits for them, so that the larger, more important exams end up being much easier. I’ll write a few of these study guides when I feel like it throughout the year. A lot of the time the disappointing marks you receive don’t boil down to lack of study. In a surprising number of cases, poor percentages stem from inefficient study.

  • You don’t go to class. Class is where you first hear the material. It is free study. It is the information put across to you by an expert in the field. Unless your lecturer is horrible, attend and maximise the hour or so you have there. Take notes and underline to keep up concentration. Listen and watch the display to deduce the important points. Class might also help for detecting exam questions.
  • You don’t think when you study. If you’re just reading the material, you’re gonna be lost. Think about each point and ask yourself do you really get it. Understand first, memorise second. To be honest the more of a subject you understand, the less you actually end up needing to just push into your head the week before the test. Strive to be able to break the material into a form where you could explain it to anybody. This mistake kills about 99.9% of all students. Most never even engage the material when they read over it. For the few who do, a lot still only ask ‘what will come up in the exam?’ Forget the exam (WARNING: do not actually forget exam). Focus on whether or not you actually know what’s in front of you. Look away from the notes and try tell yourself the story of the information there.
  • You aren’t taking breaks. A good time to take breaks is every forty minutes or every hour. Take a fifteen minute break. DO NOT USE IT TO GO ON FACEBOOK. I’m guilty of doing this too, but please try refrain. Get up and walk around. Go get something to eat. Fruits and juices are great sources of sugars that don’t give you the same crash you’ll get from chocolate or sweets.
  • You are picking the wrong time. Study at mid-morning or in the evening. Take a break after classes to allow yourself rest. Tackle study when you are fresh and awake. Late at night is about as useful as when you are sleeping. Yes, that means it is no use at all. A lot of people will vouch for all nighters. I can tel you both as a science enthusiast and someone with ample common sense that you are not functioning anywhere near capacity that late. A good sleep and early study is far far better. Save a late nighter for an emergency if you are unprepared for an exam. Even then, shut everything off and get to bed by midnight.
  • You never heard of extra reading or reading around your topic. Lecture notes are fine. But they’re born and live as concise samples of the material. Only the best get a full understanding out of shortened notes. Most need a slower delivery. That’s where books come in. A book gives it bit by bit. If you do understand the notes, read them anyway. Getting a second view is paramount for top marks and usually gives you a broader source of information to draw from.
  • You are giving in to easy. Will power is paramount with study. I’m not talking about the will to study; I’m referring to the will to give up on your memory. Try to relay lists back to yourself of things you need to know. If you get stuck, don’t look at the screen immediately for the answer. WRONG. Give yourself time, try to remember other things about the precise subject area and you’ll quickly re-jog your memory. If you give in without trying to remember, you’ll put yourself into that mentality for the exam. Remembering rote-learned material is not fun at all. If you’re gonna do it at least challenge yourself.
  • You spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME ORGANISING. This one even kills the smart people. It will slow you down really fast if you let organisation get to you. Should your notes be accessible and in an easy to learn format? YES. Should all the notes have accompanying flash cards, colour co-ordinates, book references and re-written notes? NO!!!!! I can’t emphasise this enough. Do you need flashcards to remember the three roles of x? Maybe. Do you need them to recall the three functions of y? Perhaps. People tend to jump on the bandwagon of flashcards, spider diagrams, pictures and anagrams to avoid what really matters. If you’re just gonna write out the notes again and not even bother thinking about them…GET OUT. I know some very organised people who get high marks because I know that behind it all they do the study. I also know far more people who are very organised who achieve marks that discredit them. Why? Because instead of engaging the material and actively learning, they spend time drawing diagrams for things they don’t understand. Waste of time if you never learn them. SERIOUSLY.
  • You organise too late. There’s no such thing as studying too early. By studying, I mean making all the diagrams and flash cards you want. This is fine. What will ruin your exam is spending the night before an exam re writing your notes. TOO LATE. Unless you have a very high rote-learning potential, you’ve just wasted precious study hours. Your preparation for an exam needs to happen months before you even hear it is scheduled. Whenever you have a chance, take a look at your notes, your book or your handouts and try put them in a form you can understand. Maybe that involves highlighting. Maybe it involves different coloured pens. Whatever it is, do it sooner rather than later and make sure that when you do it; you try your hand at understanding the notes at the same time.
  • You’re cutting things out. A technique that kills any grade is leaving things out of study. If you have a day, cut ,cut,cut!! But we’re talking good study. That involves addressing everything. If I told you to learn about football, you wouldn’t go and leave the goalkeeper out. True I may never ask about the goalkeeeper. But what about the relationship with the defenders? What about the interaction with opposing strikers? The second you start cutting things out; your overall understanding wanes and your grade starts to slide. Try to understand the hard parts. It makes learning the easy parts surprisingly simplistic.
  • You only study when you study. If there’s one thing that makes you get VERY high grades, it’s knowing that the study never really ends. I’m talking a twin method of action. Any time you have something laborious and boring to do; start studying. Have to clean your room? Ask yourself a couple question while you do. Standing around at work bored? Try to remember what you have to do for your organisation. This method is endless. It can extend from thinking about your study when you pass a book in a shop to putting things on your wall and having a quick look before you head out with your friends. It sounds crazy, and in truth it probably is, but I can guarantee the results. It’s basic logic. The longer you commit to a subject; the more you understand it, and the easier it is to study. The easier it is to study; the more you get in before exams and the better your grade is.

That’s enough to get somebody started. I’m gonna post more of these; to be honest all those ones just jumped to mind first. there are far more reasons your study doesn’t work and I’ll try write on it soon.