Cracking the College Code

Making the most of the first year college experience

View Catherine O'Connor's profile on LinkedIn

How to Survive the First Year in College

Information talks are available for parent and student groups nationwide. These talks are unique as they are delivered from the third level perspective with the focus on making wise course and college choices, the changes that going to third level bring and how best to deal with these changes in a fast paced and demanding world. 

Parents and students will come away with lots of insights and practical tips on how to make informed choices which is key to making the most of the college experience. Students are motivated to take ownership of their own learning journeys.

More than 7,000 students don't make it past the first year in college. Dropping out of college brings financial strain and also brings a mental, physical and emotional cost which is distressing for families.

Individual consultations Catherine works with first year college students who are having difficulty settling into college life. During these consultations she shares tools and techniques to deal with the challenges faced and prepare for what lies ahead.

Catherine is also a regular contributor to national and regional radio, print and digital media and delivers public lectures and keynotes.

She also works with parents who are seeking help in sorting out problems arising during this period. 

Contact Catherine  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  086 6017036

At my talks, you can expect to hear about:

  • Choice and consequence
  • Life before and after the CAO
  • Making informed choices 
  • Getting to know how the third level system works
  • Dealing with the fast pace of change
  • What makes students successful at college
  • Day to day life at college
  • Socialising and the law
  • Study and part-time work - getting the balance right
  • What parents and students expect from each other
  • How to communicate with college offices and staff


What Paula, a 6th year parent, says about the talks:

"I have attended many talks in the school over the years but this by far outshines the rest. Her presentation and delivery was clear, informative and interesting.  It was great to get the insight from the third level view from Catherine - unlike their education to now where there is a lot of spoon feeding, third level is up to the student. All parents attending thoroughly enjoyed the evening and came away much more knowledgeable."
Paula Callan, parent from St Colmcille’s School, Knocklyon, Dublin 16

What a 6th year student says:

"I would highly recommend Catherine O’Connor. This year I have sat through reams of speakers all just outlining the courses in their universities, each going over the same ground. She gave us genuinely useful and relevant information that we wanted and we didn't get from anyone else. She was engaging, a great communicator and really was very professional.

Personally, I was introduced to the issues of student finance, student life, the importance of the uni library and other things I hadn't previously considered."

What Aine, a School Principal, says:

 Catherine has facilitated talks on a number of occasions in our school and is always extremely well received by both parents and students. Catherine is informative about her subject matter and approachable in manner which is appreciated by her audiences. The information offered is invaluable for parents and guardians of students in senior cycle and is presented from a point of view of someone who is very familiar with the 3rd level experience. It is practical and thought provoking for all students who are considering a course at 3rd level."                                    

Áine O Sullivan, School Principal, Ashbourne Community School

What a Parents' Council says:

"The Parents Council at Coláiste Mhuire, Mullingar hosted a very informative talks for our parents and students …...the talks were extremely well received and it is hoped that the Parents Council can repeat this wonderful day."

For further information - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / Tel: 086 6017036

Parents' Associations and Schools: Multiple copies of the book can be purchased at a discounted price through CJ Fallon - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 01 6166490 and the National Parents Council Post Primary. Also available to purchase on this site and in all bookshops.