Learning at third level

By Whichcollege.ie - Last update

Get Daily news and updates directly to your Email


The transition from school to college is rather like one of those nature documentaries where an orphaned and bewildered bear or monkey is released from the care of doting zoologists and shooed away into the vast and daunting hinterland to make its own way in life; in other words, your success or failure is completely in your own hands now. While there are plenty of helpful people, such as tutors, lecturers and other students, to provide advice and support during your third level adventure, no one is going to make you put in the work, like your teacher or parents may have done during your school years.

Higher education is an independent learning environment and academic success involves a lot more than just attending all your lectures and tutorials; some first year students can find this new situation quite difficult to get used to, but the upside is that it represents an exciting opportunity for you to find things out for yourself and formulate your own beliefs and arguments.

For many graduates, going to college was one of the most formative events in their personal development. College life requires good organisation, time management skills and self-discipline. College days can be irregular in terms of how many hours are spent on a given day in the lecture hall, classroom or laboratory, especially with the increase of modularisation and choice of subjects. A large proportion of your time will be spent studying in the library, where you will investigate in depth the topics that your lecturers will have outlined. It makes good sense therefore, to formulate a personal study plan at an early stage so that you can settle into a productive routine. Otherwise, there is a very real danger (trust me!) of hours and days being wasted wandering about campus from one non-academic activity, like purchasing a doughnut, to another, such as playing pool.

Independence of thought is what a third level education seeks to instil in students. You are not simply regurgitating information that has been learnt directly from a textbook, as is the case with most of the Leaving Cert curriculum. Students are expected to go beyond that and think critically: making links between theory and practice, applying newfound knowledge to real life situations, evaluating arguments and theories, and formulating their own judgements. It may feel awkward piping up in your very first tutorial, risking the glowers of your ‘too cool for school’ classmates, but fully participating in college life is the only way to get full value from your course. Conversing and debating with your tutors and lecturers is what college is all about and a sure-fire way of getting to the heart of any academic question that is troubling you.

Be sure to utilise all available resources to help with any study problems you may have; not much is free once you have graduated so make the most of it! Tutors can give good advice and most colleges run mentoring or workshop programmes for students who are experiencing difficulty with issues such as essay writing or revision techniques.   Above all, college is about getting the mix right. It can be a forgettable experience if too much time is spent on either social or academic pursuits. Try to involve both elements in sensible measures from the start so that when the assignments start flying at you from all directions, it’s not such a mental struggle to hit the books.

And as for the examinations, cramming may have a minimal beneficial effect for the Leaving Cert, but you can forget about if for college examinations as they are simply too difficult for a handful of bleary-eyed 24-hour study sessions to get you the required results. If you make full use of the learning opportunities in college there will be few limits to the success of your future career. But aside from the material benefits, a third level education will also help you to develop and mature as a person, and as a critically aware, engaged member of society.


Whichcollege.ie is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
Funding & Student Support
Career Profile - Childcare


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We'd love to send you the latest news and articles about evening classes, further learning and adult education by email. We'll always treat your personal details with the utmost care and will never sell them to other companies for marketing purposes.

Comments and Reviews Policy