Making the Right Choice
By Christmas of 1st Year, Sara was so disillusioned with college and her course that she felt that she had little choice but to drop out. The only question on her mind was when. Would she leave straight away or wait until the end of the year? Sara felt that she should take a year out to decide what she wanted to do with her life. She was very disappointed that it had come to this as she had looked forward to college.
There were many reasons why Sara wasn’t happy, but the two key reasons were: her course was not what she expected, and she hadn’t made friends. There were subjects on her course that she didn’t particularly like, and she struggled to understand them. Part of her difficulty with the course, which was, in fact, her first choice on CAO, was that she couldn’t see its relevance. She was losing interest and was becoming fearful that she would fail her exams.
In Primary and Secondary school, Sara had a group of close friends, all of whom were very supportive of each other. Now she didn’t know anybody well. She felt isolated and lonely and while she had classmates to chat to, she wasn’t part of a group. She didn’t look forward to lunchtime as she didn’t feel comfortable imposing on groups that were already established.
Look at the Bigger Picture
During the Christmas holidays, Sara took her mother’s advice to seek help. We had three sessions, during which Sara discovered that she did have a sense of what she wanted to do with her life and that her course was not only relevant to her future goals and aspirations but was a surprisingly good choice when compared with other courses. This had a hugely positive effect.
Sara needed to see the big picture. She needed to have a sense of where she was going. She needed to know the subjects she would be studying in each term over the next few years. Then and only then could she feel motivated to fully engage in her course.
Advice for Students
With newfound enthusiasm and motivation, many things fell into place. Sara passed her exams and is now about to start into her third year.
While friendships are not yet where Sara would like them to be, she feels that she learned a lot about what not to do during the first few weeks of college. She now realises that friends are very important to her. She believes that her approach over the earlier weeks of college did not serve her well. Being somewhat shy, Sara did not push herself and as a result, lost many opportunities to get to know others in her year. This turned out to be a crucial time for developing friendships. She says that if given the chance again, she would have taken every opportunity offered, particularly around nights out, even if that meant getting a taxi home later in the night.
Onwards and Upwards
But all is not lost. While the first few weeks were undoubtedly opportune times to get to know people,group-work is a feature of some modules. Working with different groups provides a great opportunity to get to know others in a different capacity. This year Sara plans to get involved in extra-curricular college activities and is excited about the opportunities that this will bring.