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Reflection on My First Year in College

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Firstly, I would like to provide you with a brief introduction of my career background to date. My name is Fergal Johnston, and I am from Dublin. My working career begun when I finish my second level education in 1999. I started working fulltime in the Tourism industry being mainly involved working within Dublin airport. I am now currently working as a personal assistant for a Chief Executive in a very busy and demanding role for a regulatory body. I currently enjoy this role as it varies daily which I thoroughly enjoy and filled with many different duties, however there would be certain tasks I would like to participate in which would require me to take up a degree in Business. It’s after taking many years on deciding on a course which would help benefit me in the future. I had always made excuses every summer to avoid taking up a place with further education.

It was the summer of 2018 I had ran out of every excuse, so I eventually decided to take my placement for my Business degree in Dublin Business School (DBS). Once I had made my decision and payment was made for my course, I begun to feel anxious as how would this affect my personal life, my passion for travelling and sacrificing other future social plans that were made. Everything was racing through my head, with entering the fear of the unknown of third level education, as I keep repeating to myself “there is no going back”.With the first evening in college, this had to be one of the most exciting, scariest things that I had experienced. When I sat in the lecture hall for the first time ever, I was amazed to see how many other participants were on the course. I was secretly hoping they would be having the same feelings as me. My mind was put at ease when others had shared their feelings also, which were very similar to my own. When the first lecture begun the fear factor had set in for me. The dreaded word “exam” and “assignments” was mentioned. The flash backs from school raced through my head bringing me back to when I had completed my Leaving Certificate. Again, I could feel the fear, anxiety and stress creeping up on me and remembering conversations with friends and family about how much I would need to sacrifice for this degree with dedicating time to my studies but at the end of the day I am improving myself as Sterner (2012) describes “everything in life is worth achieving requires practice. In fact, life itself is nothing more than one long practice session, an endless effort of refining our motions. When the proper mechanics of practicing are understood, the task of learning something new becomes a stress-free experience of joy and calmness, a process which settles all areas in your life and promotes proper perspective on all of life’s difficulties”.

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So here goes, it’s my first Saturday and I begin to sit down at my laptop and begin to read up on each subject and what is required from each course subject. I have given myself two hours which is so alien to me as its totally not how I would have spent my Saturday mornings. I guess this is the bit of the bad, or maybe not, that goes with college as “it’s expected that from time to time I will feel stressed by some aspects of my work” with juggling personal/college life and preparing for exams and submitting assignments to deadlines, however after this study time allocated, I have planned to balance this time out with enjoying a catch up with friends and go for lunch to avoid becoming overwhelmed with all the study required. My first assignment is from my Learning to Learn module and I must write up a reflective journal. I begin to write down what I have learned from each course and how much of this knowledge I had taken from my lectures. If I felt that I had a better understanding on a certain lecture that week I decide to allocate more time for studying with other lectures that may require more of a follow up and understanding. With assessing this situation weekly, I find that I am using my time more efficiently which is a bonus to me. Having this extra time available I intend to make more use of the library facilities and follow up with some further reading. It’s now week three and just completed a full Saturday in college. With my planning ahead with a brief journal I am keeping, I knew I had to make time now on the Sunday to catch up on my notes. During the week, I had found that the lecturers have moved much faster than the other two weeks and gradually getting that bit more intense. I must keep up and write my notes as quick as possible. I know notice that I am beginning to write in more shorthand to save time with writing full sentences.

After the Saturday on “Employability Skills” I have now been given another assignment. The fear I had experienced of the word “assignment” I heard on my first week wasn’t as strong as I feel now I can manage my time and block off time with my journal to get these assignments completed with studying over the weekends and during the week after work. With week three I finally decided to visit the library after work. I was a bit apprehensive in going as I didn’t know much about how to go about searching for books to read and the setup of the library. This was dispelled quickly when I first arrived and spoke to a staff member who showed me how easy it was to search books and took time out to find out what is required on my course and how to search for my recommended reading. I am now looking forward to going back next week and maybe take out more books. Before taking up my position in DBS I wouldn’t have read much books but I know now that “when you are studying the underlying purpose of reading is to develop your thoughts – to weave new ideas and information into understanding you already have and to develop new points of view”. This really assisted me and my new way of reading going forward and putting much more effort in to understanding more of what I read. With writing down and investigating my feelings further on my journey through the first few weeks of college I now can understand more clearly on the ability to cope, especially to avoid any stress of making myself ill, as I wouldn’t want to miss any lectures. I would recommend writing down a brief diary and allocating time for each module to study. I find that this helps me cope around exam times and assignments and allowing myself the time to prepare. I feel that I can avoid any undue stress that I may have felt at the start of the course. It made me realise that every day in my fulltime job I plan and write a diary every morning on what duties need to be completed, so I now complete this for my college assignments. It certainly eases up any pressure that I may have experienced at the start with getting that balance right with work/college and personal life. I feel after the weeks are progressing I am still learning and dealing with the adaption of adding college into the mix of my personal life. It’s a constant learning curve but I feel I am now better prepared with writing down and planning for pressurised times ahead with submitting assignments to deadlines and end of year exams in May. There has also been gaps where I highlighted I may to need to focus on more and with the help of the college library at DBS and with further reading that this will make studying more enjoyable for me. I have realised that opening a book now is not just about reading words.

I find that I am enjoying what I read and always trying to apply this to my degree course. I am certainly looking forward to the next four years ahead which I know that it’s not going to be easy for me but comparing to my first day in college and those mixed emotions and feelings I experience, I already feel better prepared for the times ahead. I will certainly put all I have learned over the few weeks now and practice my way of learning with finding ways how to make it easier and more enjoyable.


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