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'Doing four subjects in first year meant I was introduced to Criminology, which I now love'

Ruairí Weiner, Maynooth University

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Ruairí Weiner outside his former school, St Louis, Community School in Kiltimagh, Co Mayo. Photo: James Connolly

Ruairí Weiner outside his former school, St Louis, Community School in Kiltimagh, Co Mayo. Photo: James Connolly

Ruairí Weiner outside his former school, St Louis, Community School in Kiltimagh, Co Mayo. Photo: James Connolly

Ruairí Weiner's CAO and college journey was a learning curve for him, and also holds plenty of lessons for those who get fixed on the idea that there is only one course for them.

The 22-year-old from Co Mayo only ever wanted to study pure Anthropology. "That was a definite," he says.

While Queen's University in Belfast offers it as a standalone undergraduate programme, he would find no such course on the CAO. Ruairí wanted to stay in the Republic and he opted for general entry BA Arts at Maynooth University.

"I was a bit disappointed at the time because I felt people put Arts down as a back-up.

"I was quite good in school and I'd have people saying to me why not go for something with higher points. I said 'no', I want to study Anthropology. What harm if the points for it are low, it means I won't be stressed about getting it."

In the event, Ruairí, a past pupil of St Louis Community School, Co Mayo achieved more than 500 points, and sailed into Arts.

The BA Arts is the most popular degree in Maynooth University with 36 subjects across six subject groups.

He embraced it whole-heartedly and, at that stage, valued the idea of the broad entry route and the opportunity to study other subjects in first year.

"I was able to do up to four subjects and, I thought Sociology and Criminology would overlap quite nicely because they are all social sciences." He also took French.

By the end of the year, what he found was that he still loved Anthropology, but he was swayed by other subjects. "I really enjoyed Sociology and Criminology and didn't really enjoy French," he says. "I'm quite good at the language but studying literature didn't really interest me."

The programme has a number of pathways once students enter second year and it is up to each individual to choose how deeply they want to engage with a subject, or subjects, from then on: a double major, where they take two subjects equally to degree level; or a single major, where they specialise in one; or a major minor.

There is a Single Major Anthropology option, but Ruairí decided to do both Anthropology and Criminology: "While I loved Sociology as well, Criminology really appealed," he says.

It's a three-year programme and Ruairí finished this year, with a BA Double Major Anthropology and Criminology.

While many undergraduate programmes extend over four years, Ruairí feels the benefit of completing his in three and moving on to the next phase of his studies. He was accepted for an MSc in Applied Social Research in Trinity College Dublin.

Irish Independent