One of the biggest challenges of entering college can be learning to get around on campus. After at least six years spent learning your school’s layout, quiet spaces and facilities, a new environment can be a big shock. Here are a few tips to avoid being overwhelmed in your first weeks.
College campuses can vary in size and shape. They can be very large like University College Dublin or Dublin City University, or can be smaller college campuses. They can be contained all in one building, like National College of Ireland or spread across a city like TU Dublin. As a result, finding yourself going from one class to another, or even arranging a spot to meet friends can be harder than it looks. The moment you get your offer, go to your college’s website map to learn its layout.
Colleges will vary in facilities they offer but there are certain spots common to all of them. Try to find the locations of spots like restaurants, shops, cafés, and bars. These facilities are not only good for socialising, eating and refreshment; they also serve as landmarks to help you navigate around campus.
If you’re living at home it’s crucial to learn how to get to and from your college. Check bus, dart, or Luas routes before you visit and, importantly, how late they run. You don’t want to miss your last bus after a long day of study.
While colleges will have online resources to help you navigate campus, it’s better to get a feel for the environment in person. This is particularly important for students with chronic illnesses or mobility issues for whom getting around on a day-to-day basis may prove difficult. Identify all accessible entrances, restrooms, elevators and parking spaces. Tour residence halls designated for people with motor impairments. Consider how negative effects of weather, hills and other campus features might be avoided. It’s a good idea to physically have a look around campus during the summer. Remember, the closer to term time you visit, the more people are likely to be around.
The moment you get a timetable, make sure you are familiar with the location of each of your lectures. The last thing you want is to end up in the wrong lecture theatre on your first day.
Don’t feel embarrassed about reaching out to your college for help. After all, it’s in their best interest for students not to get lost on campus! Orientation will typically help with giving you an idea what spots on campus are best. Furthermore, certain colleges will offer disability specific orientation, which takes unique access needs into account.