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This is the chance of a lifetime... now make the most of it

We realise that starting at university is an exciting time for students and their families. The excitement of moving to the adult world of university is also likely to be accompanied by some trepidation or even nervousness.

This is natural. I felt it myself in 1983 when my own parents drove me up from Wexford to attend Trinity as a Fresher engineering student.

My experience as a student at Trinity was to become one of the most memorable periods of my life.

It was as challenging as it was enjoyable and enlightening, and so it will be for the new students of 2011.

The following are 10 tips for those new entrants:

1 Remember that first and foremost, you are in university to learn.

Make sure that you know about your course and what is required of you.

Go to all of your lectures and seminars and complete all of your course work to the very best of your ability.

2 Get familiar with the college campus. Use the orientation documentation sent to you to find out which buildings lectures are held in, where the libraries, canteen and coffee shops are.

3Remember you have been through one of the toughest pre-university systems in the world, the Leaving Cert. The kind of learning it promotes is exam focused, but university education is about learning to think for yourself. Read widely, and think about what you study.

4 Discipline is the key to success in matters relating to study. Get into a regular pattern of study as soon as possible.

Use the library and the computer resources available to you. Your efforts will be rewarded when it comes to exam time.

5 Build up a network of friends in your class and in the wider university. Don't neglect your friends at home, and keep in good contact with your parents, letting them know about your course and building up a mature relationship with them.

6Become active in clubs and societies. For instance, Trinity has more than 100 to choose from, from rugby to frisbee in sport; from the famous College Historical Society, for its debating, to the One World society.

And if you don't find what you like, start your own club or society!

7 Money: don't worry excessively about it but don't be a spendthrift either.

Funds may be tight and you may be relying on your parents so be aware of the sacrifices they make.

It costs as much as €40,000 per year to educate a student in university, so all taxpayers are paying for you to have this opportunity.

8If you have to get a part-time job to make ends meet, then be careful not to overdo it so that you have enough time for study.

9Begin with the end in mind, become career focused -- ask yourself what opportunities will your degree lead you to and where you can lead it to.

Think about summer internships and how they can add to that experience.

10Remember that life is for living and enjoying. Work hard but play hard too!

Professor Patrick Prendergast is Provost of Trinity College Dublin


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