Being a Student & Progressing through College
As a new undergraduate student in university you can expect a lot of new experiences and differences to what life is like in secondary school. In particular, going from a very structured routine with a consistent daily timetable and homework to a setting where class attendance may be optional and coursework is assigned weeks before the deadline is a major shift.
Being an Undergraduate Student
You will also have exciting new opportunities available to you, such as the option of getting involved in extra-curricular activities like college clubs and societies, and you can explore the campus to make the most of the learning spaces and environmental resources that can enhance your university experience. University is a great time to try new activities, meet new people and develop many skills that will benefit you during your time at university as well as prepare you for life after your course. It’s very important to adapt to the changes of studying at third level, while making the most of the adventure of your university journey. To assist with this, it’s a good idea to be proactive in establishing plans and strategies. There are a wide variety of resources, supports and services at Trinity to work with you to achieve this.
Check out the Trinity Ability Co_op ‘Autism Awareness Month Special’ Podcast episode, where Autistic students discuss their experiences of university.
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As a postgraduate student at Trinity, you may be completing either a Masters Degree or a PhD. Being a postgraduate student is very different to being an undergraduate, as your studies will be much more self-directed. If you are studying for a Masters Degree, you will still have lectures and seminars, but only a few each week and the remainder of your time will be spent on independent study.
You will be responsible for your own learning and coursework and you will spend more time in the library reading and researching than you would have in your undergraduate course. This type of study is well-suited to students with strengths in self-directed work and a good ability to self-motivate.
By contrast, a PhD course is very different to a Masters Degree. While a PhD still involves lots of self-directed learning, you will be studying a subject in a very specific, focused and detailed way with the aim of submitting an original piece of research. Your daily routine will be different, and you will most likely have few, if any, lectures and seminars. A PhD course often involves working in a lab or engaging in research and academic writing in the Postgraduate Reading Room with other PhD students of different faculties. Advancing from an undergraduate to a postgraduate level of study can be quite a change. Some of the changes you may need to adapt to include:
- Doing self-directed learning with less instruction from lecturers.
- Planning and organising your workload to ensure that you are meeting deadlines.
- Balancing academic work with non-academic activities such as extra-curriculars or part-time work.
- Managing your finances and acquiring funding.
- Establishing good communication with your academic department and/or research supervisor.
- Looking after your well-being to maintain good mental health and address any stressors or concerns.
- Interacting with support services to make the most of the resources that are available to support you on your postgraduate journey.
Please see the autism-specific guide on managing your role as a postgraduate student below. Click on the booklet to open a link to the guide. This guide was authored by the late Trinity student, Dr. Zehanne Kenny. Some of the language used in the guide may be out of date, but the advice and recommendations it includes are invaluable.
As a student in third-level education, your focus will be on engaging with your course and making the most of all that student life has to offer. Still, the university also provides a range of opportunities to develop the skills and experiences that will help to prepare you for future employment.
During your time at university, you may avail of opportunities to do some volunteering, complete a work placement or internship, take on a part-time or summer job, or get involved in the running of a student club or society. These activities can offer a wealth of skills and experience that will benefit your future career.
The Disability Service offers a range of supports and resources focused on assisting you in planning for employment. Please click here for more information on this.
The Ability Co_op is a group of Trinity students who work in partnership with the Disability Service to improve inclusion and accessibility at the university. Students can get involved in the Ability Co_op to work on projects related to disability and inclusion. This is a great opportunity to work with other students who share an interest in disability and to gain experience of teamwork, communication skills, project management, media and content creation and advocacy skills.
Students can get involved with the Ability Co_op with no specific prior skills or knowledge, and everyone is welcome to contribute to their projects. For more information on the Ability Co_op check out their website by clicking here.
Not So Different is a Social Enterprise that aims to work with neurodivergent students to develop and showcase their individual talents. Not So Different provides employability skills training and support talented creative individuals to become work-ready, and build connections with employers that value talents such as logic and pattern thinkers, thinking in pictures, problem solving, analytical abilities, creative and innovative abilities and others. The activities involved include:
- Identification of strengths, and assessment of employability.
- Undertaking 'enterprise readiness training.
- Attending seminars and workshops on social and life skills.
- Participating in an industry mentoring program with employers.
- Being considered for internships or work experience assignments.
- Working with employment support team on feedback from work experience opportunities.
Interested in getting involved? Please click here for Not So Different contact details.