Ten things to avoid in college

To get through your first year in college, here are a few things you should avoid

Mon, Jan 6, 2014, 00:00

Being caught on camera
Long after you’ve moved on, don’t forget that the internet has an eternal memory. Whether you’re jumping naked into the lake, performing a public sex act, or a having drunken rant at strangers, chances are that someone will whip out their camera phone and you’ll be a viral sensation that never goes away.


Never going to class
A classic first-year trap. Suddenly you’re in this great, exciting place with friends that, for the first time, you actually like. Between the society events, sports and drinking, it’s easy to forget that lectures exist. Sure aren’t they all optional? Before you know it, exam time has come around and you have virtually no notes and no clue.


Always going to class
That said, you’re not just here for academic learning. College is a time to meet new friends, try new things, develop new interests, and become a more rounded person. Don’t spend your whole time squirreled away in the library. Sometimes it’s no harm to get a mediocre result or forget to submit an essay, especially if it won’t affect your final grade.


Making the wrong friends
Schools are awful places which bring out the worst in people. You’re stuck with terrible friends who treat you badly and with whom you have nothing in common. In college, first-years are often unaware that they can choose their friends now, based on mutual respect and common interests, but in the rush of fear, they often just hang out with whoever is available. Get involved in clubs and societies and events and make friends with people you actually like.

Debating societies
Where the right argument is not the right argument but the one that is most skilfully argued; where the real suffering of vulnerable people is reduced to a bit of banter pompously presented as a jolly old laugh: witnessing some of the most privileged and insulated debaters taking a stand for the most powerful vested interests can be stomach-churning.


Getting too close for comfort
In the world of work, most people give it some thought before jumping into a relationship with a colleague. If it all goes wrong, you’re going to have to look at their stupid, ugly mug all damn day. Likewise, in college, where emotions can be heightened and your first adult relationship can be achingly intense, there are risks in getting involved with a classmate. They may be the love of your life, or they may be someone you can’t avoid for the next three years.


Malnutrition
Scurvy – it’s no craic at all. College lore abounds with stories of students who picked up all sorts of medieval diseases due to their strict diet of Mars bars and beer. They’re probably made up. But the cliche of students wedded to bags of pasta and can-openers has some truth. A decent diet that contains at least some fruit and vegetables (no, pop tarts are not a fruit) will help you to study and focus better. Wealthy chefs make millions telling lower-income groups, including students, that they can eat well for next to nothing, but frozen junk is cheaper when budgets are tight. That said, there is some good cooking advice out there: check out the recipe blog A Girl Called Jack for loads of cheap and tasty recipe ideas.


Being THAT flatmate
If you move out of home, you’ll be living with people who are very different from your parents or siblings. Chances are that, at some point over your three or four years, you will have that apocryphally awful flatmate: a total slob who thinks that “tidying” means covering dirty dishes with a filthy blanket, a skinflint who robs all your milk and never replaces it, a passive-aggressive, uptight control freak whose only language consists of pointed digs (“It’s funny how I’m often the one to clean the upstairs windows with that ladder I had to buy and, just so you know, I’ve cleaned the underside of the lino for you. Not that I mind.”), someone who accidentally sets fire to everything they brush past, or a smiling monster who is intent on taking your boyfriend or girlfriend and bitching about you behind your back. Don’t be one of those people.


Spending all your money on sweets
When you’ve never really had to budget, payday can seem too be good to be true. Before you know it, you’re sitting with a giant bag of sweets and 96 bottles of beer, but you’ve no chance of making rent. Learn to budget.


Ignoring your problems
Financial worries, sex and relationship issues, study troubles: third level can bring a whole host of problems. Talk to someone – friends, college counsellors, chaplains, or the students’ union welfare officer. You won’t find so many free sources of support again, so use them.

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