'It was only after first year that I realised which branch of physics I preferred'
Rebekah Leamy, Maynooth University
Rebekah Leamy wasn't sure which strand of science she wanted to pursue at third level, so settled on a broad-based CAO entry route to keep her options open.
The 20-year-old, from Lucan, Co Dublin, had already chosen between her twin passions of art and science in deciding which post-school study path to follow.
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A former pupil of King's Hospital, Palmerstown, Rebekah opted for the four-year Bachelor of Science at Maynooth University, where students take four subjects in first year, including maths.
Even then, first years have four weeks at the beginning of term to sample seven subjects before making an informed choice.
As is the case with most Maynooth courses, 'critical skills' is an optional first year module. It focuses on developing skills such as effective communication, creative thinking and problem solving.
For a full list of 2019 CAO courses, click here
According to Rebekah, "the best thing about the course is how many options you have. You have the choice between so many subjects in your first year, to get to know what you like and dislike. It made it so much easier to see what I did and didn't like and it has worked out for me".
Students drop one subject in second year, and in third year they are down to two. By fourth year, they can focus on either one or two subjects.
Rebekah surprised herself in her ultimate subject selection. She started with maths, chemistry, experimental physics and theoretical physics and "didn't expect to engage with theoretical physics as much as I did. I thought I would have preferred experimental physics, but the opposite was the case".
Now in third year, she is studying applied maths and theoretical physics, and hopes to become a maths and applied maths teacher.
She is conscious of current sixth-year students facing the sort of decisions she confronted a few years ago and recommends open days as "the best way to find out information about colleges and their courses, and gives you the opportunity to speak to lecturers as well as students".