If you are considering dropping out of college, there are still other options available to you, and a college transfer is one of them. It won’t be the easiest option but one to be considered which I hope my experience shows.
From 5th year onward I was adamant that I wanted to study politics, and I had my heart set on pursuing Government in UCC. However, this dream of mine was dependent on securing a Quercus scholarship from UCC which would see my college fees, accommodation and a whole host of other things paid for. Despite making it to the final three in contention for the Active Citizenship Quercus scholarship, of which they had three to award, I was unsuccessful (typical, I know). This left me with me only a few days to make changes to my CAO.
Anything that went onto my CAO at this point had to be “commutable” as I was not in the position to afford to relocate for college which only left IT Carlow as a viable option. Unfortunately, there was no politics course in ITC, so that left me with only one option, to put Business Studies on my CAO. Up until this point, I was adamant in not wanting to study business so when I got my first and only choice on my CAO, I was not all that enthusiastic to begin college. This mindset meant that I did not put my best foot forward in settling into college life, and as early as October I decided I needed a change. My friend at this point who had originally been living in student accommodation in Dublin began commuting from Laois. I had always been told that this was “impossible” to do, be it from college representatives at open days or from students themselves. Yet, lone behold, it was.
My sister, at this point, was in her final year of the same course that I had only begun. This gave me an insight into what the course was like and I know it was not something which I wanted to continue. A major issue I had was that there was no opportunity for work placement, which was the type of exposure to the working world I wanted to experience during college. This has since changed and ITC now provide the opportunity for work placement.
My frantic Google searches led me to consider transferring to another college instead of dropping out. That November I attended the DCU Open Day and got the opportunity to speak to the DCU programme chair for Business Studies. I was worried that I would not be eligible for the transfer as I did not have the same modules covered. However, she reassured me that all I had to do was finish the year with a First-Class Honours and I would secure my place in second year of the course.
Hearing this not only put my mind at ease but gave me something to focus on and motivate me in my studies. I achieved the results needed, but there was still an application form to be completed. This was a generic form asking you broad questions which you had to relate to your reasons for transferring and area of study. I cannot say how big a role this application form plays in determining if you are accepted or not, but I did not want to leave anything to chance. I put a lot of time into perfecting my application and reached out to past teachers for guidance as well as references. Throughout this time, I worked as many hours as I could in preparation for the possibility that I would be unsuccessful and would have to fund my reapplication to the CAO and pay additional college fees. Thankfully, this was not the case and in August 2017 I received confirmation that I was admitted to second year of Business Studies in DCU.
I was excited to start in DCU, but of course, I was nervous, and I had not a notion how the Dublin Bus operated. I had a few friends from school who were studying in DCU but they were based off a different campus. It was lonely, to begin with, and I knew no one in my course. Everyone seemed to already know everyone else and have their own friend groups. I did not let this get me down, as I knew that this would be the case and it was no fault of mine or anyone else’s. I joined some societies on campus but again it was difficult to socialise and attend events when you had to make the last train home as well as taking the unpredictable Dublin Bus and Luas timetables into account. I soon settled into a routine and made friends which made group projects that bit easier. Having been on work placement for the whole of third year, I was unsure as to how final year would unfold. I can thankfully say final year was a breeze, especially in comparison to my rocky start in second year.
My college experience was not what you see in the movies or on someone’s Instagram highlights. I was not out multiple nights a week or a part of every college society. That is not to say I did not want those things to happen or for my experience to be worthy of a highlight reel, because I did. But it is okay that my college journey did not turn out that way. I am stronger and more resilient because of it. At the end of the day I have my degree, and that is what will get me to where I want to go next.
Future posts will document tips for obtaining a college transfer, the benefits of work placement and an honest account of commuting.