Wednesday 28 September 2016

The Weekly Read: Three reasons to appreciate college when you're there

Elizabeth O'Malley

Published 13/01/2016 | 23:15

College students (Stock photo)
College students (Stock photo)

I have a birthday in September. I told one of my parents friends that I was looking forward to my birthday in two months. I think I was still in primary school at the time. She replied, “Don’t wish away the summer.”

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Well friends, I’m here to tell you don’t wish away college.

When I was doing my undergrad I was so focused on what I was going to do after I left college, and how great it would be to get my own place and what it would be like to have money, that I think I sometimes took for granted how great it was being a student.

After I finished my undergraduate in law I worked for a year out in ‘the real world’, doing a six month internship for an NGO and then working for a law firm for the other six months.

When I started my masters in journalism I was so thankful. There is nothing like not being in university to make you wish you were back in university.

I’m not saying university is the high point of your life. God, I hope not. It’d be a bummer to peak that early.

I’m also not saying that working completely sucks either. It was great to learn real world skills and to get experience, to make a difference, to have a little more disposable income.

But here are a few reasons I’m happy to be a student again, despite being poor as shit.

1. Everything is harder when you’re working

Theoretically you can pick up hobbies outside work. You can spend a lot of your time learning. You can make lots of friends, but it is so much harder than when you’re a student.

When you have to get up at 6.30 in the morning and don’t get home until 7 in the evening, by the time you get back, all you want to do is nothing. Or watch TV.

The idea of picking up a challenging book or continuing a course online seems daunting at best, and you’re likely not to bother. Even with the best will in the world you’ll never get as much done as you could have when you were in university.

When you’re in college you have almost all of your interests catered to. Interested in writing? Do something for the college paper. Love to act? Join your drama society.

Always dreamed of being a Pokémon master? Well, college is maybe one of the few places where that is only slightly embarrassing.

As for making friends, obviously you can make friends in work. However you don’t have the same level of choice.

If you find someone annoying you have to spend time with them anyway, and you’re usually not surrounded by so many people the same age as you.

College is the most social time of your life. Take advantage of it while you can.

2. There is a lot less pressure

Sure, you may have deadlines and exams and parents breathing down your neck, but that is not as bad as a job.

If you make a mistake in university, it is really not the end of the world. Most of the time, nobody but you cares much.

For example, I recorded an interview for one of my projects for my masters. Or so I thought. I forgot to press the second button to keep the recording and the entire thing disappeared.

I never made that mistake again, and luckily I managed to get a different interview instead. However, if I’d been working for RTÉ or another media outlet when that happened, it could have been a different story.

Similarly, you will not get in trouble in college from missing too many lectures. You don’t have to force yourself to go into college when you’re sick, because you’ve already been out too many days. And if you don’t go in your colleagues are not going to have to cover your work.

3. You’re doing something you love

Some people love their jobs. I’d imagine those people are probably in the minority. Even the best jobs have bits you dread.

Some people hate their course. I’d definitely hope those people are in the minority. Ideally you chose your course in college because it’s something you’re good at and are enjoying learning about.

Even if that’s not the case, all the other great things should hopefully make up for it, like having all your friends together, getting to join societies and clubs and enjoying being young.

If you’re still miserable after all the above, you’re doing something wrong.

University goes by faster than you’d think. To paraphrase Ferris Bueller, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while you might miss it.

Also, months of holidays are pretty awesome too.

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