I'm proud to say I'm a statistic. I am one of up to 40% of students who eventually end up dropping out of their course. After being told for all of my secondary school years that I excelled at English and was good at languages, that I should do Arts in college, well that's exactly what I did. And I hated it. Don't get me wrong I love writing, reading, learning and speaking different languages.
What they don't tell you though is that learning a language such as German or Spanish (I did both) in college is that a lot of it is the history and politics of that country, and a lot of it is taught through English.
The fact that a language course was taught through English was completely alien to me; it doesn't make sense. I thought within a few months my already good standard of the language would mean I was fluent in it. Not so, the tiring grammar lessons and reading the literature of the country through English really made me re-evaluate my choice.
This course wasn't for me. I knew it within the first two weeks. However, the old adage from the parents of 'stick it out until Christmas' made me stay in the course. I even did the exams, hating every minute of the nonsensical lectures. I cried many times at the futility of staying in a course I disliked so much... And then I took it into my own hands, ignored my parents and dropped out. Did the world end? No. Did I lose money? Yes, but only half the semesters’ fees were paid and money is only money after all.
It isn't the dropping out that is the hard part, it is figuring out what you want to do, before or after that fact. Up until July last year I hadn't a clue, even though I had filled out the CAO for the second time. I got offers for Journalism in DCU, and Public Relations in Dundalk IT. The only thing stopping me from choosing either of these paths was money. It really seems to me now that universities punish you for dropping out. The 'heinous' mistake I had committed by picking the wrong course now meant I would have to pay full fees for a semester in DCU. Seven grand.
There were talks of taking out a loan, which I most definitely did not want to have hanging over me. Then I decided to look at PLC's and colleges of further education. I didn't want to commit to a degree course, take out a loan for seven grand to then discover that nope, this course wasn't for me either. I found Ballyfermot College of Further Education to be the best fit for me. I signed up to the 2-year Higher National Diploma in Journalism and haven't looked back. It suits me down to the ground, course size is very small, you get individual attention and most of all it is a very practical, job-focused course, not full of whimsical theory, which I hated about Arts. Oh, and financially it was a couple of hundred which made that decision all the more easier.
For people who haven't a clue what they want to do after the big 'LC' I strongly encourage you to consider a PLC course, or a 2 year course in a college of further education. The smaller fees, and class sizes will really give you an idea if you enjoy the course or not. I was lost in the back of a huge lecture hall, not paying attention to anything said on poetry from the 1500s.
Yes, there are times when I think if I had just stuck it out I would be going into final year instead of having just finished first year but in the long term I think my great results reflect my interest in journalism, far more than my barely scraped passes in Arts which will result in a far better honours degree in the long run. There are progression options to Journalism in DIT, or DCU, or a one year add on in Media Production Management which I am strongly considering.
So don't worry about 'wasting your points' by going and doing a further education course instead of a degree course, we will all end up with the same degree in the end. It doesn't matter what route you take.