Colleges are hugely supportive environments with many services for students to avail of. Lecturers and the support staff are all there to help you on your educational journey- they want you to succeed. Don’t be alone or feel you can’t turn to someone for help.
If your mental and physical health is not in order, it’s much harder to succeed with your academic work. If you need help with aspects of your course or need more time to finish assignments, don’t be afraid to talk to your lecturer or tutor - they are there to help.
If this is your first time going to college or you are returning to college, understanding what college supports are available to you can make that journey so much easier. Here are a few tips that will help you.
Student Universal Support
Whether you applied for, or were successful (or not) with SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland), there is also the Student Assistance Fund which aims to give support to students in temporary or ongoing financial difficulties. You can learn more about this fund at hea.ie
The Back to College Allowance is available for those over the age of 21 who fulfil certain criteria. To avail of this (or learn more), students are advised to contact their local social welfare/Intreo office.
St Vincent de Paul have an Education and Training Bursary Fund - to avail of this, students should contact their local regional St Vincent de Paul office.
College scholarships are available - some college-wide and others which are specific to certain courses. You generally apply for these through the college websites.
Can’t afford a laptop? The government has given colleges across the state laptops and other technology which can be loaned out to students who need them. To find out more, contact your college’s access office.
Money Mule scam
As the saying goes, “if it sounds too good to be true, then...” Every year, criminal gangs operate around college campuses as well as within pubs and night clubs. Fraudsters may ask you to allow them lodge money in your account, which you will then transfer to another and they will offer you a percentage cut. This is fraud and, regardless of your “innocence”, if caught, you will be prosecuted. This can have serious implications on future employment and international travel.
Going to college is a great experience, but there might be times when it becomes too much for you - and this is normal. Whether you are finding the college work difficult, experiencing a bereavement or separation, or you are just not feeling like yourself, just know that there are many supports available to you.
All colleges have in-house counsellors and psychotherapists that are free of charge for students. Spunout.ie (Ireland’s youth information website) have a 24/7 text message support service 50808. NiteLine is a phone support service during term time (operating from 9pm to 2:30am). It is run by students for students and can be contacted on 1800 793 793. Of course, online and in-person counselling are available and you can find a counsellor that suits your needs on the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy website (iacp.ie).
As well as the studying, enjoying your time and finding new adventures is a big part of college life. All colleges will have a Students’ Union and I would strongly recommend that you find them and see what clubs and societies are available in the college. It’s here where you will find many new friends and start new adventures.
Colleges are very accepting places and it’s where many people begin to blossom and find themselves. Many of the colleges will have an LGBTQ+ society and this is open to everyone, including allies. Another LGBTQ+ support group is BeLonG To youth services, who have many outreach support groups across the country.
Most colleges will have various sports teams. Some are competitive, and others are there for the pure enjoyment of having fun. Again, check out your Students’ Union - they will point you in the right direction.
Social and night life
I‘m not going to tell you what you should or should not do; however, what I would say is be careful on nights out and while attending parties. Never go home alone and never let a friend or acquaintance go home alone either. Make sure you and your friends look out for each other. Check out drinkaware.ie for safe socialising tips. And have fun!
When looking for student accommodation, be careful - there are a lot of scams out there. First, check with your college – in many cases they will have list of available places and can guide you in the right direction.
top tips for renting
Students with disabilities:
Even if you gain access to college through the DARE scheme, there is also the Fund for Students with Disabilities. You should contact the access office of your college for further details.