IT was an early morning start for five students from Heywood Community School as they awaited the 6.45am train from Portlaoise to Dublin.
Standing on the chilly platform they were full of excitement, anticipation and anxiety about their day in Dublin.
They travelled to shadow five UCD students going about their daily life in university. This included lectures, tutorials, labs and study to get an insight into student life.
The initiative is part of a link that Heywood Community School has with UCD in order to encourage more participation at third level.
The early start was necessary to get them to Belfield at 8.30am to team up with their student buddy in time for the 9am start of lectures. Once they arrived at the college the students set off to discover what a typical student does on a normal day. They were impressed and amazed at the size of the Belfield campus, the crowds at the lecture theatres, the modern buildings, the maze of corridors and rooms and the facilities on offer.
They little thought that a campus would have a 50m swimming pool with a movable floor or that it would also have a cinema, theatre and radio station.
They were amazed at the crowds there, impressed at the number of mature students, the vast shelves of books in the library, the banks of computer screens and the shops and cafes there.
Having their individual guide was invaluable to them both in getting around the campus but also in giving a picture of what it is like to study in a large bustling campus. They sat puzzled in the lectures not following much, were impressed in the tutorials and fascinated by the labs.
Having seen what studying at third level is really like they were more determined than ever to work in the more familiar school environment to get the points to get the course at third level.
That tantalising glimpse of student life has given them a greater determination and motivation to do what is necessary to make the grade to college. The student shadowing day is a new era initiative from UCD organised through the college’s access office and the students were accompanied by the school’s guidance counsellor, Mr Fred Tuite.