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9 steps to choosing the right course after the Leaving Cert

One in four students who drop out of a college degree in the next year of their studies are likely to drop out before completing their studies. It depends on the trends identified by the Higher Education Authority in recent years. Most of those who don’t make it to sophomore year will drop out for one main reason: they chose the wrong path.

So, how can you be sure that you choose the right course? How do you distinguish a course you truly love from what others say is your best bet?

Derek O’Brien, Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) registrar and vice president for academic affairs, says students need to make decisions based primarily on their interests and abilities.

This conviction prompted WIT to launch the Right Student initiative, Right Program, which aims to educate and inform students to choose what is right for them, rather than what they are asked to do.

It’s a view supported by Alice O’Connor, expert guidance counselor at Educate Together High School in Stepside, CO Dublin. We asked both of them to identify what students need to know when making their call.

1. Choose what interests you

This is the basic advice any guidance counselor gives a student.

“From the transitional year onwards, students should think about the topics they are interested in,” O’Connor says.

“What are your hobbies, values, and skills – how would they fit into a career path, and are there courses that would take them there? In school, I loved art but didn’t do well in Junior Siirt, even though I did art history in college.”

2. Think of broader and more topics

There are many subjects to choose from in college, most of which do not link directly to what is available for a Leaving Cert.

“If a student enjoys English, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be studying it in college,” O’Bearn says.

Instead, they should think about what they like about English. Is it poetry? Do they particularly like writing? Or, if the analysis is critical, they may look at degrees that involve a lot of critical analysis: it may be because they They might not particularly want an English degree but would enjoy law, for example.”

Students also tend to understand careers they have seen: if a parent, relative, or friend is an accountant, engineer, or teacher, they may be more inclined to follow this path.

“This is part of the reason we encourage students to think not in terms of particular topics or jobs, but in terms of skills and abilities,” O’Bearn says.


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