The next few months will be the toughest of your life. Soon you and your friends will come to the realisation of how incredibly important the CAO is. Personally speaking, picking my CAO courses was the toughest part of the Leaving Cert year. I can’t offer you the key to finding your perfect course but I can offer you some tips!
You’ve heard this a million times before but college is completely different to secondary school. In your course you don’t have the range of subjects you had at secondary school. All your modules are going to be related to your course in some way. For example I’m studying commerce. I have 12 different modules but they all relate to business. Also a lot of them feature maths. So before you put down a course make sure you do some research on its structure and different aspects. Don’t listen to a neighbour who tells you that a course is easy. You need to look at your own strengths and weaknesses when deciding these things. Also don’t forget that you can always contact someone at the college if you want more information.
My next point is somewhat related to the last one. Make sure you’re going to enjoy your course. If you hate maths and want it to shrivel up into a hole and never bother you again then it’s probably a good idea to steer clear of accounting. If it took you forever to learn the future tense in Irish then you’re more than likely better off staying away from languages. Two boys from my secondary school entered Engineering in UCD last September. Both have now dropped out because they didn’t like it. In my case I love business. It was my favourite subject for both the Leaving and Junior Certs. I knew from the first day of sixth year that I wanted to study commerce. My only difficulty was choosing a college.
Do not follow your friends. Choosing a course because your best friend in the world wants to do it is a bad idea unless you are genuinely are interested in that field of study. The same can be said of choosing a college. Being from Tipperary, my friends were always going to be spread out all over the country. Throughout fifth year I pondered over and over in my head the different scenarios I could find myself in. For a long time I had convinced myself that I was going to follow the majority of the crowd. I have never ever been happier with myself for changing my mind. I had been willing to sacrifice academic exemptions just to be seeing the same faces that I would see at the weekend anyway. I also had to consider traveling. My first choice course was in Dublin and my second was in Galway. I will not lie. I was dreading having to sit on a bus for three or four hours twice a week. I really should have been more careful with my course selection. Luckily however I got my number one!
Don’t let people convince you one course is better than another. We’ve all seen the jokes about art students on Facebook. Yet arts is the most popular course in Ireland. The only reason points are so low is because of the large number of places available, e.g. 1000 in UCD. The vast majority of secondary teachers are arts graduates. Sure there are some wasters in arts but there are wasters in every single course in every college in the country. Don’t let a friend tell you that arts graduates go nowhere in life. James Joyce studied arts; I think he did pretty well in life. Roddy Doyle also studied arts. Once you get over the childish critics you can realise that an arts degree is a very broad degree which allows you to go anywhere in life. Also don’t think that you can’t do arts because your points are too high. I have a good friend studying arts. He got something along the lines of 570 in the leaving. He didn’t know what he wanted to do in life though so he’s doing a broad degree which will keep a lot of doors open for him in later life.