Thursday 23 November 2017

Help! My social life is ruining my degree

The latest of our entries in an Irish Independent student journalist competition, in association with

Aoife Bennett

The social side of college can have a damaging effect on your studies. Be sure to get the balance right, says Aoife Bennett

HOW do we have the craic in college (which is what we think we're there to do) but still pass all our modules well and get a good degree (which is what we're actually there to do).

Be not afraid. I am here to give you a first-hand look at what life is like as ‘The Girl Who Took on Too Much and Still Made It through First Year’.

Yes, first year. I'm still waiting for my second year results.. And like many people,  I’m waiting to see how they went, passing the time with Rosary beads stuck to my hand (I've hit three decades a day now).

One thing my dad always says when he drops me at the bus stop is to "enjoy yourself, but do the work too." And I roll my eyes far too many times for it to be ok. I was motivated enough in sixth year to get here, surely this motivation will continue, right?

Wrong. It turns out college has far more distractions than studying for the Leaving Cert ever did. The Leaving Cert had the odd 18th here and there, which I'd have gone to because it was a break from the books and my classmates were a friendly bunch. But college has societies. And housemates. And members of the opposite sex. College spells trouble for someone who gets distracted as easily as I do.

Thousands of students drop out of college each year. Some don't like the course they're in. Some can't keep up with the workload, while others are unable to finance college life (which is growing more expensive every year.) For those who were unable to keep up with the workload, it can have a connection to the amount of extra curricular activities they take part in.

Take me, for example. Last semester, the first semester of my second year in college, was tough in terms of time management. Although I had few hours actually in lectures, I started to feel midway through the term that I had taken on far too much outside of the academic side of college. I was vice chair of one society, a member of the college Glee club, a presenter on the college radio station and regular contributor to the college paper. Often, activities for these societies would overlap and I would be forced to make a decision and commit to just one of them. As they were needed for my career, the paper and the radio show always got first preference.

There were some casualties, though. There always are. I'm not proud to admit this, but one or two assignments have suffered due to my poor level of time management. They may have been worth only a few per cent, but in one of the toughest modules I faced this year, they could now be the difference between a pass and a repeat in August.

My final essay needed to be incredible. It had to be the best thing my lecturer ever read. Which resulted in my hibernation in the college library for three days trying to produce some of my finest work when really, I hadn't too great of an idea what was actually needed of me.

Having sat down over Christmas break and thought about my options, I came to the decision that if I was going to return to the nerd from sixth year, I would have to stop some of the socialising. One of my commitments will have to hit the road. The thing is, I can't decide which one. And, unfortunately, I find it difficult to say no, which may end up in my return to it, whichever activity draws the short straw.

This isn't a whiny post. It is merely a reminder that college is there for one main reason- to study hard and get a good job. In secondary school I was known as the loser with not many friends because I was seen as one of "the smart kids" (something that doesn't worry me now even half as much as it used to back then). Now, one of the smart kids lives in fear that she may have thrown away a chance at a good education first go.

It's funny how it's always the ones you least expect.

Aoife Bennett is a journalism student at DCU


If you’re a student who can write concise, topical stories and is deeply engaged in student life, join the Contributors’ Competition and your stories could be published on Ireland’s most popular news website,, this semester.

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