Louise Murphy and Cliona Hatano are Academic Success Coaches with the Student Engagement Office (AnSEO) at Cork IT. They asked students: 'What advice would you give your first year self?' The following encompasses their responses:
Get the basics right
'Get in the habit of studying a little bit every day.' Students who thrive get the basics right such as having breakfast and regular meals, attending and actively listening in lectures, completing study tasks every day and giving time to relationships and hobbies.
It is extremely important to attend lectures. A student said: 'Attendance not only improves general work ethic but you also gain vital information from your lecturers. You will also have more confidence in your study and preparation for exams which will lead to a positive mindset.'
Students who are organised feel they have more time and can engage better with their studies. They also have less stress because they feel in control of their work. The majority of study time should be spent on engaging with the material and completing study tasks. Some students can spend too much time organising rather than studying and working on assignments.
Use resources well
Among the resources that many institutions have are libraries, learning centres, learning development supports, Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) programmes, medical centres, students' union, counselling services and sports clubs. These resources are designed so that students will progress and succeed in third level.
Accessing the staff, their advice and support in these areas can make all the difference to the student experience. So many students tell us they wish they had used the resources, especially the library, from day one.
Lean into the discomfort
'Relax. You don't need to know everything all the time. Some things will start to make sense later on.' For most students, the material they are learning is new, phrased differently or taught differently. Successful students embrace the frustration and recognise it as part of the process of learning.
Balance fun and wellness
When students create study plans with Academic Success Coaches in CIT, emphasis is placed on making time for fun and wellbeing. Transitioning to third level usually means lots of change. It is important to stay grounded by keeping good habits and hobbies going. When students tell us that they do not have much else going on outside of study or work we ask them to do a 'fun and wellness audit' and if there are deficits, they are encouraged to explore and try new things.
One student said she totally forgot about the part of herself that enjoyed singing and exercise. She was not enjoying her course and when she reintegrated these interests she began to thrive in third level again.