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It's not school, but college is rewarding

IT's a big step in anyone's life - finishing secondary school and making the big leap for college. In 2011 I took up a place at Trinity College to study English and history as part of an arts degree.

I was absolutely thrilled to be moving to Dublin, but my time in secondary school did not prepare me for university in the slightest.

I wasn't surprised when I read that the Economic and Social Research Institute this week found that almost half of Ireland's young people regret their choices by the age of 21.

The high costs as well as worries about job prospects for graduates staying in the country can put a dampener on it for some students.

That's a shame because the years in university are supposed to be some of the happiest and formative of our lives.

I'm from the North and three years ago this week, like today's Leaving Cert students, I was nervously awaiting my A-Level results.

I had considered becoming a teacher, but at 18 I wasn't sure that's what I ultimately wanted to end up doing.


I think my choice was wise and my course has opened a range of other options.

While I loved my school, the teaching at second level - as many of my friends from the South have found - does not prepare you for the independent thinking suddenly required at university.

I will never forget how my heart sank when I failed the first English essay I submitted and read the disparaging comments of my tutor. But I'd say don't get discouraged - you get the hang of what's required from you very quickly.

I have enjoyed my course and although arts gets an unfair rap for 'lacking weight', it was the right choice for me.

If I had one worry, it was the costs of going to college. I've worked throughout my time at college, but I simply couldn't have survived without my family's support.

And I've estimated that I will have student loan debt of about €15,000 when I graduate.

But now, aged 21 myself and entering my final year, I'm lucky that not only do I not regret my choice of course, I have also found that - while challenging at times - college life is a hugely rewarding