Starting your first year on the right track

Starting college is a huge adjustment for most students and the first few weeks of the first semester can feel very overwhelming. Read on to find out what issues may arise and practical advice on how to manage – and start your studies on the right track.


Organizing yourself can be a significant challenge for many students, autistic or not. This can mean difficulties around planning study time and meeting assessment deadlines but can also concern aspects of daily living, like getting up in time, eating at appropriate times and keeping track of your own physical and mental health.

How could this affect me?

Not taking the time to think about how you manage your day may lead to inefficient use of your time and unavoidable stress. Issues that could be dealt with quite easily may snowball into a much larger problem if it is just ignored in the hope it will just ‘go away’.

For example you might have missed lectures on Monday and Tuesday and then be tempted to miss the rest of the week to start ‘fresh’ – but this is not helpful and is likely to be motivated by wanting to just avoid the initial difficulty. If you find yourself missing lectures or starting to avoid your contact time – ask yourself why this may be the case? You can also contact your advisor for support.

If you do take the time to plan how you will manage our day – this does not mean that issues won’t arise – but it does mean that you will be in a better place to manage those issues. You will know how and when to ask for support.

What to do next?

Take some time to think about your schedule (including eating and sleeping), your organization of files and study materials, and managing deadlines.

Practical tips

  • Attend the ‘Survive and Thrive’ workshops offered by staff from the DSS


  • use digital time management tools (online calendars, notifications to your phone)


  • try different ways to depict your workload and commitments in a way that is motivating to you (for example, using a pie chart to show how much of the year’s assessments you have already completed)


  • plan what and where you are going to eat


Questions to think about

  • Where can I set up a comfortable workspace where I can concentrate without interruptions?


  • How am I going to manage my files (such as lecture notes, assignments, readings)?


  • Where can I go on campus if I feel overwhelmed?


  • Where am I going to eat on campus?


  • What will I do if I don’t understand something?


  • Who do I contact if I need support or am worried about something?


  • What am I going to do to make sure I have time to relax?


  • How will I make new friends? (What societies or clubs can I join? What events can I attend?)

Additional information and links

Where can I eat in UCC?