NCI Blog

How to Prepare for Your First Year of College at NCI

Posted by Andrea Leyden on 28 August 2020


Students starting their third-level education this September have already faced a massive challenge due to the uncertainty surrounding the Leaving Certificate examinations.

After a confusing summer, it’s time to start thinking ahead to college. But what will that look like this year? And, what do you need to know and do now to prepare for the journey ahead? If you will be starting your studies with us at National College of Ireland in the coming weeks, here are some actions we recommend you take before you join your first lecture.

1. Read the Safety Protocol for NCI students

Our team has put together a Safety Protocol for Students based on Government and HSE guidelines. Each student should take a few minutes to read the document to learn how the college is protecting our students, your responsibilities while on-campus and the information you need to know before attending the college for any on-campus activities.

2. Watch our video showing what the campus will look like

If you’ve been wondering what your campus experience will be like in September, watch the video below to see what to expect. NCI President, Gina Quin, introduces you to the college and outlines guidelines and advice for all campus visitors. You will also see the safety precautions that are now in place to protect everyone on campus. 

3. Check if you’re eligible for the student laptop fund

Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, recently announced that funding had been allocated for laptops for third-level students to assist with online learning. This grant will support disadvantaged NCI students, both those who are starting their courses this year and those who are returning to college. Visit the Student Laptop Fund page on our website for further information.

4. Download the MyTimetable app

Your first semester timetable will outline the schedule for your online classes along with your on-campus learning events. Timetables are generally issued two weeks before classes are due to start and can be accessed online once available. We recommend downloading the MyTimetable app as you will be able to view your personalised timetable on your mobile device and quickly see any updates that have been made. 

5. Attend your online student orientation

New student orientation takes place the week before classes start and will be delivered online this year due to the social distancing restrictions in place. These sessions are hugely important as you will learn about student life at NCI, the supports and services that will be available to you and you will meet your student leaders who will be able to provide you with guidance and advice throughout the academic year.

6. Plan to attend your classes as they happen

Joining your online classes when they are live-streamed is hugely important. While classes will be recorded and available to watch after they take place, attending your class during the timetabled slot will allow you to interact with your new classmates and actively participate in discussions. You will also be able to raise your hand to ask the lecturer a question which can be answered in real-time, something that would not be possible if you don’t attend the class as it happens.

7. Prepare for online classes

At NCI, we understand that starting college can be a challenge and that the transition to third-level education is amplified by the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, we have been sharing easy tips and helpful advice you can follow to help you prepare for your online classes:

Visit our Campus Commitment page on our website for answers to your top questions about starting college with details on everything from campus facilities to the social side of student life.

8. Review the laptop recommendations for your course

The Student Laptop Fund mentioned above was launched to ensure all students have access to the technology they need to pursue their third-level education, given that the majority of classes will be streamed online this semester. If you don’t qualify for this grant, you will need access to a laptop or a computer so you can attend your classes, download educational resources and use required software. We have outlined laptop recommendations so you can ensure that the device you choose meets the minimum specifications for your course.

9. Become familiar with the college website

The National College of Ireland website is a haven of handy resources that you will find useful throughout your degree. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Current Student Hub: This is where you will find useful links to support your studies including IT resources such as your student email.
  • Academic Calendar: You will find key dates for the 2020/21 academic year here including reading week and the exam dates for each semester.
  • Support Services: From student health to academic support, take a look at the list of support services available to NCI students.

Information on your course such as the modules you will be studying and your career prospects when you graduate can also be found on the NCI website.

10. Meet your NCISU team for 2020/21

NCI’s Students’ Union is the representative body for all students in the college. The team will help you get the most out of college life, even in these unusual circumstances, and provide guidance and advice to any student who needs it. Follow @NCISU on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for regular updates on College life. Your NCISU team for 2020/21 is:

President: Dajana Sinik

Vice President: Conor O’Reilly

Communications Officer: Tarleen Kaur

Clubs and Societies Officer: Felipe Reis

Entertainments Officer: Kevin Donovan

L - R below: Kevin, Felipe, Dajana, Conor and Tarleen

11. Explore the online library resources

The Norma Smurfit Library is based on the ground floor of the college and offers a range of services such as loaning textbooks, reserving group study space and academic writing support. Students will have the opportunity to visit the library space when they attend on-campus activities but while you are learning from home, you will be able to access e-resources and support through the LibChat option. Check out the re-opening guidelines for more information related to booking study space, collecting books, printing, photocopying, scanning and more.

12. Bookmark this toolkit for NCI students

When the country first came to a standstill back in March and classes moved online, we created a handy toolkit for our students working from home. This is the place to go for a list of services and supports available to you including a range of mental health and wellbeing resources. We recommend that you hit that star in your browser to bookmark the page for easy access in the future!

13. Follow the college social media accounts

One of your responsibilities as a third-level student will be to keep yourself informed of all updates from the college. Once you register as an NCI student, your college email address will be created for you and this will be where you will receive important updates and announcements related to your studies. Until then, follow us on social media:

Drop us a message to say hello and make sure to tag @NCIRL and use #MyNCI in your posts on your first official day as an NCI student!

14. Get to know the support services available

At National College of Ireland, our team is committed to ensuring every student feels supported and this will not change with remote learning. Before you jump right into your lectures and virtually meeting your new classmates, take a few minutes to explore the support services available to you as an NCI student. Even though there are many changes in place this semester, these services continue to run in alternative ways. For example, the Student Counselling and Wellness Service is currently offering telephone sessions to meet the needs of students facing academic or personal difficulties.

15. Prepare to work hard to achieve results

Yes, many of your classes will be delivered online for your first semester and possibly the remainder of your first year of college. And yes, your assessments will not take place in the traditional on-campus way this semester. However, this does not mean that you won’t need to participate in tutorials and lectures, play your part in group projects and submit assignments. Get organised, put your best foot forward from day one and prepare to put the work in during your time at NCI to achieve the results you want!

Thank you for choosing to study at National College of Ireland, we look forward to (virtually) welcoming you to the college in the future and we hope you enjoy your time with us!