Final year words of wisdom

Final year students share their top tips as they graduate from College

Trinity’s graduating class of 2019 have studied throughout a period of rapid change for both Trinity and Ireland. This year’s graduates came in on the heels of the marriage referendum, have lived in a city going through an intensifying accommodation crisis, and battled through this first wave of the Trinity Education Project at a time when they most wanted to avoid change. In other words, they’ve had an intense few years. Here, they share a few of their insights into living life as a Trinity student, and avoiding their personal embarrassments and failures.

Don’t force yourself to stay in a society in which you don’t feel like you fit in just because you’re more afraid of being alone.

While societies are a great way to meet people, sometimes your group might be somewhere else entirely. The majority of my own friends from College I almost never even see on campus. At first I felt I was doing something wrong or that I didn’t have a proper social life because of this. I realised that it’s okay to focus on coming to campus solely to do your work and study, and socialise outside, if that’s what works for you. Do give societies a go; but also recognise when you’re not fitting in, and it’s not for you. Accept it, and move on. – Pia Malinen, Drama and Theatre Studies

Don’t rework your sleep schedules to prioritise your Apex Legends time.

This is self-explanatory. – Anonymous

Don’t go to the bathroom to cry.

Break down in the library; it’s socially acceptable to cry there, thank you very much. – Aisling Kearney, Biomedical Engineering

Don’t join a student newspaper.

You think you’re just going to write one article about something that interests you and next thing you know, you’re “the girl who is always in the office and seems to talk about socialism a lot”. – Stacey Wrenn, Jewish and Islamic Civilisations

Don’t glamorise being overworked, or bemoan your procrastination.

From first year I’ve seen this bizarre trend where people post on social media how much they have to do and how little time they have, or how little they have done. If you approach your course and college work with the attitude that you’ll leave everything last minute and ask for constant extensions, chances are you’re spending way more energy than you need to in avoiding the issue than actually dealing with it. Approaching things with personal deadlines, holding YOURSELF accountable, will allow you to get more done. Next time, when you want to spend the last two hours before the due date taking selfies with the caption “I haven’t even started my assignment haha”, maybe put your phone down and face the thing you’re trying to avoid. Find ways to motivate yourself to get things done well and on time; I like to bribe myself with baked goods for example. –  Pia Malinen, Drama and Theatre Studies

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

I did the classic rookie mistake of not running for things or putting my name forward for stuff in first and second year and I missed out on a lot of experiences! – Muireann McGlynn, Sociology and Social Policy

Don’t get involved in societies at the end of your degree.

Jump in early. – Kyle Ohlendieck, Psychology

Don’t drink a shoulder of Tesco vodka during the first night of Freshers Week.

I had to be walked to my Mam by two random third year students before the night had even begun, got alcohol poisoning, and haven’t looked at drink the same way since. – Muireann McGlynn, Sociology and Social Policy

Don’t run for an election you’re not prepared to lose.

I’ve got involved in a lot of things in my time in College, most notably the SU. This year, as a fourth year, I ran for SU Education Officer. I lost. I knew when I first considered running there was a good chance I would lose. You can’t give your opinion without making a few enemies, and let’s just say I’ve given my opinion a lot in my time in College. I ran because I was the best candidate, and I couldn’t imagine anyone doing a better job than I could, or wanting it more than I did. Turns out a small majority of students disagreed. To say I was crushed is an understatement. It was the worst heartbreak I’ve ever known, and coming into College again after, facing the winner, took a strength I never knew I had. The only reason I could do it was because I had mentally prepared myself for loss. I wanted to win, no doubt. But I knew I mightn’t. No matter what the stakes, opportunities are fickle. Be it a sabbat election, a job interview, a first date. These things either work out or they don’t. And if you’ve lost an opportunity you care so much about, it can feel like the world is slipping out from beneath you. But the ground is there, I promise. There’s always a foundation to build something so much bigger than your lost opportunity on. Trinity, from the perspective of a fourth year, is tiny. – Sally Anne McCarthy, Astrophysics

Don’t go out without lining your stomach.

After four long years of exams, late nights in the library and one too many breakdowns in the closest bathroom on campus, I have gained a lot of knowledge in regards to surviving a college degree but the biggest piece of advice I could give to any incoming student is: Always. Line. Your. Stomach. Yes, it’s clichéd and no, it won’t help you actually graduate with a degree but let me tell you, it will save you during your time in Trinity. It was a Thursday; pre-drinks were in full flow and the good times were rolling. I had forgotten to eat anything substantial in the stress of getting ready but I reassured myself that everything would work out by thinking the usual mantra: ah sure, be grand (spoiler alert: it would not be grand). One drink, two drinks, three drinks, floor. The night passed in a messy blur. Snippets I do remember include: vomiting in the queue for the club, being successfully smuggled past the bouncers by my friends, completely blanking other mates who tried to greet me, making a bee-line for the bathroom and vomiting in the sink. Eventually I was carried back to a friend’s apartment and unceremoniously dumped on the couch to wallow in my own self pity and puke. Carbs are love and carbs are life; use them wisely and use them well. They can be the difference between a night out to remember – both literally and figuratively – or an irremovable stain on your social life and your friends’ social media forever. – Michaela Roche, Law and German

Don’t stay out past 2am.

To quote How I Met Your Mother’s Ted Mosby: Nothing good happens after 2am, especially when you’re the most sober one at the party. Just go home. – Emily Hussey, History of Art and Architecture

Don’t feed Stumpy, the Hamilton pigeon

He’s smarter than the other pigeons, and has a good memory. He’ll remember whose sandwiches he got the most crumbs off, and he won’t forget it for the length of your degree. He’s loyal, that bird, but persistent. – Sally Anne McCarthy, Astrophysics

And finally, a note from me: don’t listen to final years who think they have the whole world figured out. Sure, we’ve made mistakes that we’ve paid for, and there are stories that are well worth taking to heart. But if you take every piece of advice you’ve ever been given, what stories will you have to tell? Make your own mistakes; fail well and often. If it takes a night out after 2am with too much vodka, or running for an election, or joining that society you’re afraid to be around, well then that is what it takes. Maybe then you’ll be able to tell the next generation what not to do.