1. School spirit
People in America are extremely passionate about representing their colleges. They even have girls who wave pom poms and yell enthusiastically in support of their sports teams every time they play another team. They have pep rallies just to hype people up for these events.
In Ireland, it would take a serious amount of convincing to make students sit and watch their college sports teams, let alone get that involved in the experience. If you asked Irish girls to be cheerleaders, you’d probably receive a polite response like “Go and shite.”
More people actively loathe their college in Ireland than support them on the level that American students do.
2. You rarely move far to go to college in Ireland
In America, really young adults regularly move thousands of miles across the country to go to their dream college. In Ireland, a lot of CAO decisions come down to what’s the closest. Even if you do aspire to go to a particular college, it’s only ever going to be a three hour drive away.
3. The CAO is terrible, but it’s a lot less stressful than American college applications
It works for some and not others, but it’s a lot easier than spending months writing up your life story, the extent of your personal contribution to saving bees from extinction and a list of the 25 extra curricular activities you took on during school that prove you’re a good student.
Being a professional saxophone player and spending 30 hours a week doing charity work and playing sports while holding down a part time job makes you a more favourable candidate for college in America, but in Ireland, nobody cares.
In one way, it’s nice that the extra pressure isn’t on Irish kids. Just get in, do your work and get out. On the other hand, it does exclude professional sax players and young philanthropists and good grades don’t accurately reflect the talents of most people.
4. The attitude to drinking is very different
By the time Irish people get to college, there’s a good chance that some of them have already been drinking for five years. They’ve got a huge tolerance to alcohol and all that they’re interested in is working out how much drink they can in one night for under €20. Probably less than €20. And they can get a lot.
Predrinking helps a lot, as does going to terrible nightclubs that sell Jaegarbombs on offer like they’re going out of date the next day. Nothing is pretty or glamorous about an Irish college night out.
In America however, they all get red cups (which are only regularly used by people here who are rich – they cost nearly a fiver for a ten-pack), they have house parties, play beer pong and other ridiculous drinking games. Their take on binge drinking almost looks wholesome in comparison to drinking in a freezing cold, wet field.
Drinking isn’t even legal until the final year of college for Americans, so they still get to live off of the thrill of getting away with a fake ID that usIrish people lose as soon as we turn eighteen.
5. We don’t really have dorms here
Although the pickings for college accommodation are extremely slim, Irish people rarely find themselves sharing dorm rooms with multiple people packed into bunkbeds. At least after the first few weeks of trying to find accommodation.
Most people are lucky enough to houseshare in situations where they have their own room, or at least are sharing a room with somebody that they knew previously.
In America, people are put into extremely close quarters with strangers that they don’t even know in a white cinder-block room that resembles a prison cell. They share communal bathrooms with dozens of people.
Very few Irish people get to live in dormitories in college, because they’re reserved for international students.
6. You don’t get into hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt from going to college in Ireland
College in America costs around $22,000 per year. This means that you’re paying $88,000 for four years of an undergraduate degree to end up with similarly poor job prospects to those in Ireland. That’s not including a Masters, which most jobs want at this stage or a PhD, for those that need it for their chosen career.
For that amount of money, they get to print for free in college, but most of your college fees go towards paying for college sports teams and their facilities.
It also means that students can’t be lax about missing lectures in America, which is a shame. Everyone needs a mental health day once in a while, especially when you’ve got assignments piling up.
It’s grim to say the least and while college is much less expensive in Ireland, it still costs enough to make life very difficult for students. It still costs enough for money to be an obstacle that can prevent someone from attending college.
7. Sorority and fraternity houses would never work here
Irish people would laugh at the idea of any college trying to make this happen in Ireland. Imagine DCU had an exclusive club that you could only join after extensive hazing and abuse. Then once you get in you find out all of the members are just boys who won’t stop telling you that they used to play county.
The female equivalent would probably be a group of girls from Westmeath who teach you very strict etiquette for Coppers to stop you from embarrassing them on nights out.
8. Homecoming football games
American high schools do this too, but every September or October they have a football game to celebrate the school’s existence. This seriously shows the extent of their school spirit, but what’s weirder is the fact that alumni of the college come back to visit and see the game.
In Ireland, once you finish college, it’s rare for you to ever step foot back inside the place unless they’re calling you saying you owe them money for something.
9. American graduates throw their caps in the air. Irish graduates rented them so they’re a bit more careful
American graduates have done this whole thing a bunch of times already. Lots of middle school graduations require a cap and gown and pretty much all high school graduations do. For Irish people, there’s only one special day where they get to put on that outfit.
10. Classes are longer in America
Most classes in the US are over an hour and 45 minutes long with no breaks. Rather than saving questions until the end, they ask them at any point.
11. We are worse bureaucrats
When you need an extension on an assignment or you are unable to attend an exam in America, it can be sorted out quite casually with a lecturer and doesn’t require any paperwork. In Ireland you need to email, apply for extensions, provide medical documentation, see if you’re approved and then find out how to proceed.
12. Americans get their exam results within about a week of completing their finals
Now imagine that. A new episode of your favourite TV show may not even be out between the time it takes to finish your exams and the day you get your results. Meanwhile in Ireland, people are left hanging for weeks, maybe even months about whether or not they’re allowed to go to college the next year.
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