Where are you with the whole process of choosing the course you will be doing after the Leaving Cert?
Sometimes Course Choice can be a rushed affair and several important things can be overlooked. Take a few minutes on this check list and see if there is more work you need to do on each of your course choices. If something needs to be done then the sooner you get it done the better.
This is a little quiz to help you out.
#1 Do you know how to use Qualifax?
Qualifax makes searching for courses very easy and is something every student should familiar with. In particular you can easily compare courses from different colleges and select the ones that are just right for you.
#2 Have you discussed your choice with a Guidance Counsellor AND your parents?
Going to third Level is a very big decision and you need to talk it over with your Guidance Counsellor and parents. They can help you clarify your decision and ensure that the course you go to is the right one for you and that it is selected for all the right reasons.
#3 Will you be studying something completely new, not connected to any of your existing subjects?
If you are planning to study something where you have no background knowledge extra caution is required. It is not safe to assume that it will all work out anyway.
#4 Have you discussed the cost of this course with your parents?
#5 Are you sure you are not under pressure to go in a certain direction?
Pressure can come from many directions and even though it might be well intentioned, you have to make your own decision. You will need to be enthusiastic about learning more in the chosen field if you are to succeed. Pressure may get you started in an area but it will be of no help to you in your continued studies.
#6 Have you investigated the career path from this course?
A Third Level Course is not an end in itself but has to be seen as a stepping stone to a career which may last for the rest of your life.
#7 Have you checked which courses have specific requirements e.g. particular subjects at LC?
Points information alone is not enough. All Courses have a range of specific requirements and you should check them in the details of your course in Qualifax under the heading of Leaving Certificate Entry Requirements
#8 Have you spoken to anyone working in this area?
Talking to a few people who work in the area of your proposed career is essential. You should use any work experience contacts, Career Exhibitions, and Social Media contacts.
#9 Have you gone to the Open Day – with questions to ask?
The important issue here is were you prepared for the Open Day or did you just go along with the crowd. An Open Day is a very valuable opportunity to learn about the courses and the place but that only happens if you are well prepared with lots of research done in advance.
#10 Are you on target to get the required points?
Take time to carefully look at the results of the mocks. Look particularly at areas where you lost out on some marks. Are these simple mistakes or is there a lot of work left to do. Be realistic and look for courses that are within your reach.
#11 Do you really want to study this for the next four years?
Really investigate the course content and satisfy yourself that you have the drive to spend up to four years studying it. You have to select the course because you like the content and not just because it is a means to a job.
#12 Have you read the detailed information about this course?
It is not enough to look at the points and job prospects of a course. There are many items that you need to read carefully if you are to be sure of making the right choice- take nothing for granted.
#13 Do you know about the support in Third Level for students with disabilities?
In most cases there are supports available at Third Level for anyone with a disability. You can check the specific details here …
#14 Did you go to the open day about this course?
A major reason to attend open days is the opportunity to visit the department in which you may be studying. If you’re undecided between courses this will help give you clarity, and if you’re really stuck you’ll able to visit multiple departments. In fact, it’s recommended you sit through at least a couple of subject talks. Check dates of upcoming Open Days here …
#15 Is the course part of your career plan?
Do you have a career plan or are you just going along with the crowd? Having some idea of your career plan will make the heavy work of the next years more manageable.
#16 Have you got advice or an opinion from a student who has studied on that course?
You can get valuable information from those who have been on the course. Sometimes they are present at Open Days. Your school may be able to provide contact with students they know of who have been on the course. Do what research you can before you meet them.
#17 If you are considering studying/working in science, technology, maths or engineering – have you watched videos/ read career stories on SmartFutues.ie?
If you have not already done so now is the time to go to Smart Futures where you will find a host of useful information on Science Careers.
#18 Will you be happy on a very academic course, with lots of theory to study, essays to write?
Most courses will expect you to apply yourself to studying a lot of theory in depth. If this is something you like then perhaps you are going in the right direction. If you did not like the homework part of school studies then you ought to pause at this point. Academic study is not for everyone, there are other pathways open to you.
#19 Is this a course you really want to do without the influence of other students in your year group?
Sometimes students make course choices just to stay with their friends, this is a big mistake. In Third Level Colleges the numbers of students is far greater and the chances of being with your friends all day is slight. You will make new friends and still be able to contact your old friends on social media or at home on weekends.
#20 If you are planning to go into Science, Computing or Engineering – have you got good numeracy skills (Mathematics) as it is an essential skill for these and other programmes?
One of the most common reasons for drop-out in these courses is to do with your ability in Maths. Think of Engineering as the application of Maths to everyday problems. Those struggling with Maths in LC should think carefully before choosing one of these courses. Discuss this with your Guidance Counsellor, students on the course, College staff at Open Days.
You should have got more. Take some time to look at the items you got wrong and use the time remaining to fix what you can.