It is amusing to observe the novelty with which they progress about their business; notebooks in hand, keen to find the Jonathan Swift before it disappears.
Then you have the undulating precision in which every syllable their lecturer utters is noted, creating notes which will later be reviewed in the fine surrounds of our warm and brightly lit library.
For many, this is all but prolonged.
The rigors of Freshers’ Week instil a set of expectations among the minds of many- downing a cheap naggin before going to the Lodge to shift all around with gay abandon. After all, college is about having the craic.
Many students realise that college is nothing but a false perception, and a few naggins really won’t be grand. To leave UL with a degree requires self-discipline, patience, hard work, and above all, a course that suits you and what you want to do.
A considerable number shall drop out of UL within weeks of starting, generally because they accepted a course other than the one they wanted, perhaps because of a shortfall in CAO points.
It would fall foul of tradition for the CAO system to be left unscathed, and indeed, every year there are calls to dump the faulty and unfair system for one and for all.
This year extra points have been awarded for those who pass the Higher Level Maths exam. The real aim of this has been nothing but to doctor the ailing statistics in leaving cert maths, in turn hugely inflating points for maths related courses.
What’s worrying is the continuing lack of correlation between Secondary School and Third Level. A student may excel at languages and derive most his/her CAO points from these subjects, yet choose to study medicine or taxation. I personally got most my points from Economics and Business, yet I’m studying English at UL.
After all, 600 points does not necessarily make a good dentist, doctor or accountant.
Rote learning and its associated evils are only the tip of the iceberg. It should not come as a surprise that many students drop out early on because the academic differences are so vast.
An effort should be made to introduce critical thinking to the second level classroom. It is a concept so apt that one could easily spend a four year degree working out.
UL should be commended for its efforts to provide a less alien environment, with the First 7 Weeks programme now in its third year. The problem though, is in engaging all new students with this initiative.
Many may well see this programme for those who struggle immensely, but because they themselves got 500 points in the Leaving Cert, they should not be concerned with it. My experience has taught me that this is unfortunately the opinion of many.
Aftermath of Library Survey serves as good example
You may be aware that the Glucksman Library conducted a user survey toward the end of last semester.
It is encouraging to observe that the findings of this survey have already been acted upon. Many parts of the library have been rearranged to provide a more logical location and flow to book arrangements.
The chronic problem of noise is also being addressed, with plans for quiet, and silent zones to be introduced. Hopefully these can actually be enforced. The next logical step would be to finally introduce a barrier where entry would be gained by scanning one’s ID card.
Leaving Cert students are a regular fixture towards the end of the second semester, and that is a big problem many would be grateful to see stopped.
Other University departments should use this as an example. We are often reminded of the ivory tower where nobody but them are in the right. Here we have a University department which features in no small way in the daily lives of students willing to promptly and appropriately act on feedback.
Hopefully this is the start of many services moving towards a feedback driven system, and goodness knows it would be no harm.
With registration fees increasing year on year, students would be right to look for value for their money, or a better service than is currently provided.
Colm Fitzgerald, Comment Editor