The Postgrad’s Guide to Going Back to College

Posted on September 14, 2010

0


.

As one of the thousands of so called ‘mature’ (that description doesn’t really apply to me) people to be returning to college this September after a year of rejection and belittlement from the economically challenged world as we know it, I’m taking the fact that I was accepted into a postgraduate course very seriously indeed. After all, this is my chance to further my qualifications – you only get one crack at it and all that. Or at least that’s what my poor battle-weary parents are saying as they prepare to lose both me and my sister who begins her third level adventure this year.

.

As a postgraduate student you might say this will all be a bit old hat to me. Been there, done that. To a certain extent, that’s true enough but you have to take into consideration all of the things that go with these new life transitions: you have to make friends all over again; you have to play the role of the ‘lost on campus, don’t know where I’m going’ schmuck who walks in late to lectures to find a hall of a thousand people staring at them; and you have to find accommodation, something which, in past experience was one of the most difficult tasks. I’m also moving from a place in IADT to the more conventional shores of DCU, which, anyone who’s visited IADT will tell you, might be akin to a culture shock in reverse. (Or moving from the loony bin to the waiting room.)

.

There are a few things though that will be greatly welcomed:

.

  1. The Structure. Sure when you’re a lady/lad of leisure (‘on the social’), you work on your own rules. You get up when you want, eat when you want, drink when you want and feed the dog only on every other odd Thursday. But that routine gets pretty old after a while – a grand total of three and a half weeks if I remember rightly. Your home town quickly becomes the victim of the ‘same old, same old’ banner. You discover that your favourite pub has shut down irrevocably; the cinema has upped its prices and its location from the town centre to the suburbs; and the marina is off limits because it’s been overrun by skater punks who like jumping over benches. Preferably while YOU are sitting on them. All of a sudden the chapel in IADT seems like heaven, the Helix an unchartered territory. Hell, even the concrete jungle of UCD seems a more appealing option.

.

  1. The Work. Yes, ok, so everyone says you’ll be working for long enough but when you spend a year unsuccessfully looking for someone to peer over your shoulder and tell you you’re doing something wrong, you realise just how boring life is without something to do. Even if you hate what you’re doing. While undergraduate thesis writing left me with the feeling that I would never willingly engage with the topic I focused on ever again, it soon passed and I was cheering Wexford on in the vain hope that we might win a hurling match sometime this century. While it may sound overly obnoxious, there’s nothing like that sense of purpose to put you in a good mood. And while you may actively engage in personal projects over the year off, it really takes that ‘Do it or you’re dead’ threat to get you on the move. It’s also quite refreshing to engage your brain in something more challenging than beating your top score on Spider Solitaire or making sure you don’t throw a black sock in with a pile of whites.

.

  1. The Social. No, not welfare, life. In what other institution will you rob a ‘Men At Work’ sign on your way home from the pub and deposit it in your overly 70s furnished sitting room? When else would you rob a bowling ball from the nearest alley and attempt to play basketball with it at 4 o’clock in the morning? In the top floor apartment. While ‘social’ is not supposed to be code for ‘mayhem’ in normal, conventional circumstances, college life takes liberties with terminology and pretty soon your ‘social’ life can end with a Garda visit to your apartment while your flatmate picks themselves out of a bush in the adjoining park.

.

So, as I gear up to register and finalise my decision to embark on another trip into the abyss of college life, I can’t help but feel ridiculously excited about the whole thing. As well as that, there’s the hope that maybe the economic situation will have stabilised by the time I finish up in a year. There’s that hope and renewed vigour that maybe when I get out in a year’s time (sounds like I’m talking about a prison sentence) things will be different, the world will be brighter and I’ll have a dozen job offers on my doorstep all saying the same thing: “Pick Me!”

.

For now though, I simply can’t wait to go back to college.