Many of you sitting your Leaving Cert or in fifth or fourth year are probably thinking of what you’ll do in college, which is fair enough. It’s a hard exam that requires many, many hours of study to overcome and get the course you want, but it’s so worth it in the end. You must remember though, that it’s not all work in college! You hear a lot about the “student life” and “college life”, and some of it is even true. College is such a vibrant, bustling place. It manages to be jam packed full of thousands of people and have many quiet spaces to steal away to for a bit at the same time, which is an impressive feat.
One of the best ways to really enjoy college is to get involved. You can (and really should) study, but you need to take time out and meet new people in the college. As colleges tend to have hundreds or thousands of students, there’s always a crowd of people with the same interests as you. There’s loads of clubs and societies for you to give a try. Just so you know the distinction: if the group is about a sport, it’s a club, and if it’s about something else like reading or singing, it’s a society. Getting involved with different activities is a great way to maximize your college experience. There’s something for everyone, really.
Why join a club or society?
There’s so many reasons. It lowers your stress levels as you’re not focusing on your coursework all the time. Playing sport is a great way to keep a healthy mind and body and should always be encouraged (which is why many colleges around Ireland have a gym that students can use cheaply, or even for free). You also get to meet people outside of your course, so you’re not stuck in the same group for the full length of your degree. Also, people who go to these clubs do so because they have an interest in what the club is about, so you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people who want to share their hobby, be it singing, dancing, debating, writing or playing Dungeons and Dragons.
If you’re big into sports, there are loads of clubs for the more common sports like rugby or football, but many have ones like rock climbing, archery, lacrosse, and so on. There’s a sports club for literally everyone, and they provide their own equipment. Of course you can bring along your own tennis racquet and tennis balls if you want, but they’ll have some for you if you don’t want to or don’t own them. They often organise competitions between their members and between other colleges, and many even compete abroad in big leagues. You can play competitively or socially, or a bit of both if you want. Usually no prior experience is required, but some do ask for you to complete a training course or to get certification for certain things. The clubs usually arrange it for you because they want everyone to take part and have fun.
If you’re more like myself and love literacy and debating, many societies have a debating society. If you like writing, journalism or working with words in general, you’ll find there’s plenty of clubs and resources for you to use to maximize your potential. The debating society is usually one of the biggest societies in the entire university (it is for Trinity and UCD anyways, who both have more than one that are in friendly competition constantly). Debating is fantastic for learning how to communicate effectively in both essays and in speech, and is something I would recommend everybody try, as I’ve already stated in a previous article of mine. The debating calendar is full to the brim of competitions, nights out, and training sessions. In terms of writing, most universities also have a university newspaper of some sort that you can write for, and there’s public speaking societies. You can even write freelance and possibly even get paid for it whilst studying full or part-time at college, because you have so much more free time.
College is a big leap from secondary school and can be tough for a lot of us as we are thrown outside our comfort zone, but the clubs and societies can really make your time unique. It allows you to tailor your experience and to develop as a person and expand your skills and qualities.