University student Niamh Shields reflects on why teens should savour every moment of their Donegal schooldays.

‘Secondary School, the best days of your life.’

My Dad’s favourite saying!

Secondary school student me, use to HATE that saying. Although my times in Loreto Community School Milford were times filled with such happiness and friends that I made for a life time, I wanted to be an adult. I wanted time to fly by and for me to fly off to The Big Smoke. Oh, how I wish I could go back, seeing the Loreto building or people from my year group, I can’t help but feel nostalgic – I miss it!

Here are a few things I have learned from school.

Photo by Felix Russell-Saw on Unsplash.


  • Responsibility:


Secondary school students are spoiled both at school and home. Oh, those days when Mammy would wake you up, have some breakfast on the table, uniform washed, lunch packed and home cooked meals ready for when you return. Teachers, although we may have viewed it as nagging, were always there to remind you of deadlines, exam preparation and homework help.  

When you hit college, the only person looking after you is YOU. In college you are in a class with hundreds of students, so your lecturer won’t have time to know your name, never mind remind you that an assignment is due, and they most definitely will not go back to a slide on a PowerPoint for you *Fast writing skills needed*

Never take for granted your time in school or the work your parents and teachers do for you.


  • ‘Popularity’ no longer exists:


In secondary school there are many groups that people, *even though we shouldn’t* view as ‘popular’ and ‘unpopular’. It can be quite the tough time, feeling comfortable at secondary school as teenage hormones kick in making us feel ever so self-conscious and anxious about our social rank.

Well, once you hit college, these social groups and self-doubt quickly fade.  You are your own person and you begin to get confidence you never thought you had. If you are in secondary school now treat everyone the same as you would treat yourself. A tip I learned is that the most confident of people will have the same insecurities just like you.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

  • Catching up with friends from home will be TOUGH:

We were incredibly blessed in secondary school to meet our best friends forever and see them five days a week. Now with everyone having left Loreto, we are all over the place, Letterkenny, Galway, Carlow, Cork, Maynooth and Dublin, it’s hard to keep track who is where sometimes.

College is an extremely busy time, with assignments, clubs and societies and weekend jobs, I never see the dolls as much as I would like, in fact, Niamh K who lives ten mins away and I are still trying to plan our coffee date. Of course, when we meet up, it’s as if no time had passed, we do tend to reminisce about our Loreto days and miss the time we all had together.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

So, to all my secondary school readers, although it may seem like school is a pain now, trust me when I say, embrace it because secondary school days, are the best days of your life.

Take it slowly and savour every moment.