Many students are worried that college is different to school. They're right that it is different but they're wrong to worry. The Leaving Cert. has points as a target. You pick subjects to get higher points and try to pick questions on the papers to study. Now you are on a course in order to gain skills as a professional. The target here is to be highly skilled and highly employable.
So how does that change the way you study? The best way to explain the difference is to think about Leaving Cert. grinds. They get you the answer to an expected question on a exam paper. You try to memorise the answer and replicate on the day. Doing that gets you high grades.
In DIT you are here to develop your skills. You'll want to be good at these so that you can operate in the workplace as a professional. You are only going to learn a select number of subjects that will allow you to be that professional. The difference in how you study is that now you want master those skills for life whereas before they were only relevant for an exam.
Many students confuse being "good at maths" or a language etc. as being talented in that area. Talent is something you're born with and if you weren't born "good at maths" then what's the point of studying it. In fact none of those subjects; maths , languages , music etc are talents. Even art is something that is more skill that talent. Psychology and brain research indicate that it is learning a skill that is truly useful and that every brain is designed to allow that to happen. That means that no-one is bad at maths, languages etc., they are just not skillful at the moment.
Learning a skill takes time. It is not just understanding and remembering a topic, it also requires you to put that into practice and do it accurately. This is especially true for languages / programming / maths & all numerical based subjects. Be patient with yourself, learning a skill means learning from your mistakes. So make lots of mistakes through practicing and you will gradually realise that you are becoming highly skilled. What this means for you is that you can excel in any subject in DIT.
Also if you're studying at home, check out these web resources, they really help in explaining the process in a step by step fashion.
http://www.mathcentre.ac.uk/ is a great resource for Engineering; Science and Business course which have maths based subjects.
Maths Tutor online This is an updated version of maths centre. Much better site, video tutorials, interactive quizzes, study notes etc. If you were poor at maths in school or missed / avoided certain topics in exams, then this site is a MUST. Easy to use and understand. Engineering , Science and Business students, keep this site bookmarked. Use it and you can't fall behind.
Engineers Ireland have online video tutorials
Many students start college and are surprised by the level of maths required. Business, management and marketing students are often surprised by statistics / quantitative methods which is all maths based. Would it be possible to make sound business decisions without accurate information? Probably not, but that doesn't make learning it any easier.
Engineering students quickly find out that the analysis needed to understand engineering challenges / solutions are predominantly maths based. They often say that had they studied physics in school they would comprehend what was required. In essence, the issue lies at a more fundamental level. If you can do the maths contained in all these subjects and understand why you are doing the maths, then it becomes merely a tool you use to ensure your solution is a sound one.
Many students feel intimidated by maths and with good reason. The Leaving Certificate has trained you to learn a prepared answer to a question that you hope you will be on the exam paper. This means that you have to memorise big blocks of information and try to recall it as accurately as you can on the day of the exam. This approach doesn't work with any numerical based subject like quantitative methods or engineering science. It does mean that you are not bad at maths but that you need to use a different approach for college and indeed for work.
Being good at these subjects will make your time in college MUCH easier. Here's how anybody can be good at maths or any number based subject. You'll need to develop two traits; resilience and consistency.
When you see a maths topic for the first time and try to solve it; you'll probably get it wrong and be completely baffled. That means you're normal. It also means you need to be resilient. Try again and it will more than likely be the same. The third attempt will 90% there and after that it's like riding a bike; you'll never forget it and you won't have to think about it much.
If you let your emails or texts back up from your first day in college until the night before your exams, you'd have quite a bit of reading and responding to do. Most people keep on top of it by reading and responding every day. Maths needs the same approach. Doing your maths topics as regularly as two to three times a week makes this subject an easy proposition. Sure it's still a challenge but you're dealing it with it and there is no reason to be intimidated by it.
Of course you'll need help along the way. Got a maths / stats / physics problem you can't solve, ask your tutor or go to the Student Maths Learning Centre. It's free and it's specially geared towards 1st year students
Your course is like a passport to a working career where you will have endless possibilities. Your qualification is an entry into a professional world where you will be able to use your skills and intelligence to make a difference. Most graduates start their career in the field in which they studied but many also follow on their undergraduate qualification with a post graduate course that is of special interest to them.
As your career develops, you will work in many varied areas, some often unrelated to where you started. You will be architect of this journey. In order to begin this journey, you need a primary qualification. By getting a place on a DIT undergraduate course, you have taken the first step.
Your time in college can be the best time of your life. Why not meet other students and try out new things. Here's a list of some of the things on offer
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It is not uncommon to doubt whether you picked the right course on the CAO. After all there are about a 1000 courses on offer, what are the chances that you got it perfect. Actually pretty good. Most students have a reasonably good idea of what they would like to work at and pick a course that heads them in that general direction.
The doubts often occur in 1st year when certain subjects get to be more difficult than imagined. People think that maybe they made the wrong choice because they aren't loving every minute of it. Make no mistake, you are trying to master a professional skill that covers a range of subjects. This is not easy.
Every course has hard subjects. Every student finds it challenging. Ask yourself this, if you were passing every subject, would you still want to leave?