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Tips for a successful move to college




By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

Moving on to college is exciting, the first taste of real independence and a chance to really spread your wings.


This year sees not only first years, but the majority of second years heading to campus for the first time. After 18 months of rolling lockdowns and extensive restrictions, freedom has never felt so good. Just as the move brings the excitement, it can also bring a certain level of worry about the unknown and even a sense overwhelm at adjusting to a very different system. All of that is completely normal, you are among thousands of others in the same boat. The first couple of weeks are really important as you become familiar with a new place and system, without the watchful eye of parents and teachers. Take time to find out as much as you can about your new surroundings and the many supports available to you, as you navigate this change.


At this stage some of you will have attended your registration and orientation day. The biggest challenge at the beginning is finding your way around the campus and outside of it and reading a more complex timetable. It is worth spending a few days before lectures to start familiarising yourself with the various buildings that you will need to frequent. If the college have an App, download it as many have an interactive map. If not, ask directions at the main reception desk or from college security staff as they will know the place inside out. It’s not all about getting to lectures, you will also need to locate the closest shops and bus stops. Shops on campus can be expensive so make sure to find the nearest large supermarket to keep those shopping bills as low as possible. The student service office and Student’s Union is a great port of call if you have questions about anything, whatever the issue they will point you in the right direction.

Making friends

While you may have some school friends in the same course and college, making new friends is a vital part of settling in to college life. You will meet plenty of new people on your course and in student accommodation. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to meet new people. Joining some of the clubs and societies on offer in the college is a fantastic way to widen your circle of friends early in the college year - and of course take part in Freshers Week activities safely.


Surviving college involves having to live on a budget. While lots of college students work part-time, you want to make sure you strike the right balance and that means watching what you spend. Look at the cheaper tickets for public transport, organise to do a large shop as a college household once a fortnight, explore the options to get the books you need in the library as opposed to buying them, and cut out the expensive takeaway coffees!

Assessment & Grading

One of the biggest shocks that students get in college is realising that unlike school, assessment starts really early in the college term. Look at the detail of all your modules including when and how you will be assessed. You also need to learn about the grading system as it is very different to secondary school. All courses have a co-ordinator and many have tutors so ask them the specific questions, it will save disappointment later in the year. Referencing is a huge issue for first year students as it must be done correctly, follow the guidelines carefully from early on. Plagiarism is also something to be mindful of. Many colleges use a software package such as Turnitin to scan your work to ensure that it is authentic - so don’t risk it!

COVID-19 still casts a shadow on how we interact socially and even with high levels of vaccinations it is prevalent. Learning to take care of your physical, mental and sexual health as well as your personal safety is all part of becoming independent. Do everything you can to look after yourself and enjoy the very best that college life has to offer. And if you are struggling academically, personally, socially or financially, don’t bury your head in the sand, reach out to the various support services available in college and outside of it.

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Careers Advisor - For details see or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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Kerry’s youth celebrated at the Lee Strand/Kerry Garda Youth Achievement Awards

This year’s overall winner of the Lee Strand Kerry Garda Youth Achievement is Ryan Griffin from Waterville who was nominated by Mairead O’Sullivan from Killorglin Family Resource Centre. Ryan Griffin […]




This year’s overall winner of the Lee Strand Kerry Garda Youth Achievement is Ryan Griffin from Waterville who was nominated by Mairead O’Sullivan from Killorglin Family Resource Centre.

Ryan Griffin is a member of the Skellig Stars and was chosen to represent Kerry at the Special Olympics.
Ryan’s biggest hurdle is communication and he had to overcome this during his trip to Berlin for the big event.

Ryan has overcome his disabilities by focusing on all the great abilities he has. Ryan attends mainstream school in Coláiste na Sceilge where he is a very respected member of the School Community. He is a member of Kerry Stars and also Downs Syndrome Kerry.

Ryan has always had a keen interest in sport and even played with the local team in Waterville, but now Ryan thinks it’s too fast for him so he prefers to cheer them on from the side-lines.

Ryan has always been involved with the Community and they have never left him out. Ryan started out his athletics career with Skellig Stars and without them he would have gone to the Special Olympics and he has never forgotten when he came from.

Ryan and his family are very grateful to the local community in Waterville and the surrounding area for all the support they have given them over the years and especially now with the Special Olympics coming closer.

The whole community from Waterville to Mid-Kerry got behind Ryan, raising funds to help his family go to Berlin for 2 weeks. Ryan is now an inspiration to others to overcome difficulties and “go for gold”.

Ryan was the only representative from Kerry on this years Irish Special Olympics Team and in fact one of the Youngest Athletes on Team Ireland at only 16yrs of age, which was a great honour for him.
This in itself is a great achievement but it also shows his friends at Skellig Stars, Downs Syndrome Kerry and in the wider community that dreams do come true.

It took a lot of hard work and determination on Ryan’s behalf to make these dreams come true, not least the long journey he had to make from South Kerry to Dublin once a month since last January to train for the Special Olympics. He also trained weekly with the Skellig Stars.

At the 2023 Special Olympics in Berlin Ryan took part in the 100m run and the relay but his biggest achievement was winning the Silver Medal in the mini javelin. This showed others that overcoming difficulties can be possible and you can achieve your goals with hard work and determination, which Ryan has in abundance.

Local Merit Awards

Aliza Gul, Killarney
Joey McCarthy, Killarney
John O’Connor, Killarney
Nattagun Ryan, Killarney
Samuel Behal, Killarney
St Brendan’s Choir, Killarney

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Controversial finish to Cougar’s opening match of season

Basketball Ireland is to review the result Killarney Cougars opening match of the new Basketball season. The opening game of the season was  long and eventful The game was abandoned […]




Basketball Ireland is to review the result Killarney Cougars opening match of the new Basketball season.

The opening game of the season was  long and eventful

The game was abandoned with 1.48 seconds remaining in the second quarter with the court unplayable due to condensation, however Portlaoise Panthers plea to change venue was allowed by the officials.

The game continued an hour later in Portlaoise College despite the Killarney protest with the long delay to proceedings and the game already abandoned in the St Mary’s venue.

Panthers held the advantage through the second quarter  whan the game was abandoned following a series of bad slips and falls on the wet floor with just under two minutes remaining,  

Darius Hopkins heavy slip and fall that finally saw the game stopped.

The remainder of the game in in the new venue was completed without any competitive edge.

Cougars finished with a series of injuries to Bill Wiseman, Alex Fleming and Oleh Drahanchuk with the game conditions and long delays a contributing factor but the homeside won the contest. 

A final decision on the outcome of the game is expected by Basketball Ireland following a review of events.


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