Congratulations! And welcome to the big bad world! For anyone who is setting off to their college of choice this is probably one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking weeks of your life.
This is a big step into reality for first years and no doubt you’re excited and aprehensive. But before you hand over that deposit to a rich farmer from Mayo who happens to own half of the student accommodation in Maynooth, think of your parents. The next few months will be a testing time for you and your family. You see, for the last 18 years or so they have been keeping a close eye on you, whether you knew it or not. They heard you fall in the back door at 4am with your curry cheese chip as you desperately tried not to trip over the cat. They knew you were shopping in Dublin when you were meant to be going to Irish grinds. And they definitely knew that it was your box of cigarettes, not your best friend’s.
But from September on they won’t be able to watch your every move. Your dear old mother won’t know if you’ve eaten your greens, and your dad won’t be around to scare off any prospective boyfriend. For you this is probably great. Freedom at last. No one to tell you to get out of bed. No pressure to wash, eat healthily, or do your homework. You’re on your own now. Woohoo, I hear you say. But there are many downfalls involved in being out of the care of your loving parents.
Finding your feet during your first year in college can be hard. There can be pressure from new friends and house mates to do things you wouldn’t do at home. People may offer you Corn Flakes with Dutch Gold for breakfast, or tempt you to skip lectures and watch day time TV programmes such as Dr Phil or Murder She Wrote. And sure enough you will be dared to steal traffic cones, pint glasses, or toilet paper. Your parents may suspect that you are doing these terrible terrible things and will undoubtedly be worried that you are doing much worse.
My advice? Keep them on side. Parents can come in handy. But be careful how you use them. If your parents are putting you through college it is essential that you keep them on side. Before you head off to your new home for the next three or four years of your life be sure they are set up for on-line and phone banking, for emergencies of course! Start hoarding non-perishable foods, washing tablets, and printing paper; trust me, all of the above will come in handy.
Let your parents know minor details about your college life. For the first few weeks you are away your mother will be worried sick; keep in contact and let her know you’re still alive. And when you come home for weekends don’t just spend your entire time sleeping - spend some time with your family, just in case they forget what you look like.
There are some certainties to keep in mind during your time in college. Your mother will call you every time you are in the SU drinking your rent money away. There is no avoiding this, so call her first. You will run out of money during freshers week/RAG week. Your dad knows well that you didn’t buy books out of that €50 you borrowed at the weekend. And your parents will arrive at your house the morning after your house party. So be prepared.
Finally to all anxious parents out there, you have raised the kids well; keep them in phone credit and Koka noodles and they’ll be fine. And to all first year students, enjoy yourself, make new friends, go to your lectures, and get involved in sport and social clubs. These are the best years of your life, don’t waste them away.