'General science allowed me to pick my best subjects for second year'
My Story: DJ Roche | Science, Maynooth University
When you're torn between astrophysics and biomedical and biological sciences you really have only one option - take a general science course in first year and then decide.
DJ Roche has always wanted to be a scientist, but when he was filling out his CAO form in 2014 he wasn't sure which one to pick. So after completing his Leaving Cert at Columba College in Killucan, Co Westmeath, he opted to study general science at Maynooth University. This would allow him some time to figure out exactly what he wanted to do.
"I did it just in case I didn't like one of the subjects - it would be easy to drop it then. For example in first year, I dropped physics because I didn't like it and I kept on biology, chemistry and maths."
DJ (19), who recently finished his second year, says choosing a general science course gave him the flexibility he needed. He loves the course and wants to continue on to PhD level afterwards in animal physiology and chemistry. His experience illustrates the benefits of general entry programmes which give students time to decide what they want to specialise in.
"The hands-on lab work that you talk about during Leaving Cert, you actually do during college, and it's a lot of fun to learn all the things you've been dreaming about learning if you want to do science."
His time at university has also been greatly helped by the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) scheme for students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
He says that LaunchPad, a Maynooth University orientation programme for students who enter the college through HEAR, or the DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) programme, was especially useful.
DJ's advice to students who are unsure about their choices is to study their options. "Take the time to research whatever subjects you'll be doing because they are very different in college. But if you're really unsure then there are general arts courses and general science courses which are very flexible in allowing you to drop certain subjects.
"Before the start of the first semester you go onto campus with other HEAR and DARE students. There's fun activities and you get to meet the people you're going to be studying with in college and it helps you to make friends. It makes the whole integration into college so much easier. LaunchPad really helped me to find my feet in college."