Farm Ireland

Wednesday 25 April 2018

A helpful guide to choosing your third-level course

PROVING POPULAR: In 2013, more than 4,200 students applied for a place in UCD agriculture and food courses, a 65pc increase on 10 years before
PROVING POPULAR: In 2013, more than 4,200 students applied for a place in UCD agriculture and food courses, a 65pc increase on 10 years before

Deciding which third-level course to choose can be a daunting task but here are some useful pointers to help students focus their minds.

1. Research courses

The key to deciding on the most appropriate course of study is to investigate the contents of the course and compare it to your own interests and aptitudes.

Think about the course content, how it will be delivered (lectures vs practical work), the culture of the college and how you feel about living far from home.

2. Take advice

Ask questions, have conversations with lecturers at open days and find out about future job functions, job prospects and employers.

Arrange an appointment with an impartial and qualified career guidance practitioner who can help you set out a career action plan and help select the most appropriate course for you.

3. Choose a suitable course

Also Read

If you are set on a career within agriculture, most courses include modules such as business and science subjects -- so be aware of this reality. Do you currently like business and science subjects? Do you like the other aspects often associated with a career in agriculture such as the outdoors, animals and food?

4. Psychometric tests

Psychometric tests can be used as a useful tool to help decide if a career in agriculture is for you and help reduce the likelihood of choosing the wrong course.

These science and business modules open up various career avenues such as agri consultancy, retail or sales representatives or farm management -- so consider and visualise the long-term prospects upon graduation.

5. Rank your preferences

Location and the cost of living must be factored into any decision on what course to choose. Your family's finances and your ability to be self- supporting through part-time work may ultimately play a role in your course choice.

6. Change Of Mind

Use the CAO Change Of Mind option to make changes to your list against your forecasted points.

A month or so before you sit the Leaving Cert you should be in a more informed position to predict your points total.

Always have a fail-safe option or two just in case things don't go exactly to plan.


Remember, you can also use the British UCAS option as a backup in case you don't get enough points to do a similar course here in Ireland.

8. Talk to family

Speak to your support network, include your family in the decision process and be open about your career thoughts.

Don't be afraid to utilise the services of a career guidance practitioner and feel positive and assured about your decision.

9. Dropping out

Many students who drop out of a third level course are unfortunately unprepared for an independent student lifestyle. Some find it difficult to adapt to the new educational culture, the personal responsibility, teaching style and the course itself.

If you do find yourself in a course that you are not quite suited to, speak to a guidance practitioner within the college and keep your family informed. If you are having difficulty with a particular aspect of the course, seek help.

All colleges and universities offer support staff and additional resources to students who may be struggling.

Irish Independent