rx serif;”>One month into 2014 I sit here writing advice which in all honesty I should have written at the start of semester 1. I can just imagine it now – there you were, a doe eyed first year, all filled with dreams and ambitions, about to finally leave the warm bosom of adolescence and embark upon the exciting adventure of college and still harbouring misconceptions of college life based off what you had heard from the media and friends. Well by now you will have begun to see what college is really like and while I can’t tell you much about that – I can tell you what I learnt from messing it up.

You see I am a returning student – I couldn’t afford the so called “free fees” and so UCD turned its back on me. But I persevered and managed to return and in doing so learnt a few harsh truths about the college experience for which I am all the wiser for and am glad to have learnt.

So listen up and listen well! Learn from the mistakes I made the first time I was in college so you don’t make them yourselves. 

1. The College Doesn’t Care About You

Can’t afford your fees – UCD doesn’t care.

Got sick at exam time and can’t afford to see a doctor – UCD doesn’t care.

Want to go back to college instead of sitting on the Dole – UCD doesn’t care.

Lost your puppy – UCD doesn’t care.

 A lot of students enter college with the rather naïve view that college is about them – that UCD’s sole reason for existing is to teach them, to intellectually nurture them, to listen to them – that it’s all about them. Well the problem with this is it implies that the college is willing to put their welfare above its own interests – and from what I’ve seen, that’s not the case.

Always remember the college is here to make money. There may have been a time when the pursuit of knowledge was valued above monetary concerns but those days are long gone and students would do best to remember this. It’s the reason fees are rising while students drop out unable to afford the right to learn, why students who are good at sports can enter the exact same course as you with lower points, why international students are targeted by UCD due to the higher fees they pay, and why the humanities will forever be destined to be the neglected child in the UCD STEM (Science, technology, engineering and maths) family. Because doing so is good for the college’s best interest – not necessarily yours. One of my own examples of this was when I was told that since I had left college due to being unable to pay fees, that I would have to pay full fees to return – almost twice the amount I couldn’t afford in the first place – but this is UCD, and they don’t care.

Now that’s not to say there are not people who do care. During my time in college I met some of the kindest, most caring and sympathetic people who did everything they could to help me stay (student welfare people you are amazing), but the bureaucratic system here is so large and inefficient they will often have their hands tied by rules decided by someone higher up or in another organisation (SUSI I hate you and your crappy website), someone who doesn’t know you or your problems, instead judging your needs through a series of cold heartless eligibility forms.

In other words, someone who doesn’t care.

By Stephen Domican

Truth number two will be available in the next issue.