The CAO system in Ireland is a strange one.
It seems insane that at seventeen and eighteen years of age, we are expected to choose a college course that will (ideally) pave the path for the rest of our life.
At eighteen I couldn’t decide which member of One Direction I found most attractive*, never mind decide on a university and a course that would essentially mould my future career. In the end I slapped down Journalism at DCU ‘cause I was “good at English and stuff”.
Luckily, it all worked out pretty well. I somehow made it to final year unscathed.
By the end of this month, lectures, Moodle (soz LOOP) and the Henry Grattan building will be a thing of the past. I never thought this would upset me, but d’ya know what? In years to come, I reckon I’m going to be strangely nostalgic about all of the mental breakdowns that occurred in the Mac labs, as I frantically tried to make the deadline for a project I should have begun weeks previously.
LOL, students. We never learn. (Pause to appreciate irony.)
College is a time of highs and lows. We learn a lot about ourselves as people, as we are finally let loose on the world without our parents’ supervision for the first time. Our diets, our bank accounts and our general life decisions all become poorer as the first semester progresses.
We learn that we are not good at budgeting when we get our first grant payment and blow it all on booze/in Penneys on ‘essential’ items such as fluorescent hair scrunchies, hand sanitizer, novelty socks and a 5,000 pack of bobby pins.
We discover that cooking is actually not that easy and takes up a lot of valuable studying (cough, Netflix, cough) time. Serious kudos to moms everywhere for whipping up home-cooked meals every night of the week when you can just stick a pizza in the oven for twenty minutes…
When we go to college, we realise who our ‘Tru frendZ R’. It is doubtful that many of us can hold a hand up and honestly say that we haven’t grown apart from at least one person we were close to in secondary school. The years spent in third level education are formative, we grow as people and discover new things about ourselves, so it’s natural that you might not gel as well with some of your old school pals as a result. But while we may lose old friends, we also gain new ones, who make 9am starts and four hour lectures just a TINY bit more bearable.
Shout out to my JR huns. Peace emoji.
Our stint in university also allows us to find ourselves…in some serious states on a night out. We get away with drinking during the week, showing up to class hungover and sleep deprived, and basically just acting the drunken twat in general.
Once you graduate, that privilege graduates along with you. You and your liver both need to grow up and get a job, for real.
Conquering public transport is a big deal when you live outside of Dublin and the surrounding areas. My first few days of college left me hella confused as to why the bus never seemed to stop at my bus stop. Turns out you have to press a button if you want to get off on the Dublin Bus route. Thank you countryside Bus Eireann, for automatically stopping at every stop and NEVER PREPARING ME FOR THE REAL WORLD.
Oh, how mature and full of wisdom I am now, three years later.
When I look back on my time in university, for the most part it will be with great affection. I’m a lot different now than I was at eighteen, but if I were to fill out a CAO form knowing all I do now? I don’t think I would change a thing.
*For anyone who was wondering, after much deliberation, I deemed Harry the fittest 1D member. Obvs.