'It was complete chance I ended up there, but it makes the best use of my strengths'
Cian Holmes, TU Dublin
Cian Holmes had been with the same group of friends all the way from primary school through to the Leaving Cert and his top CAO choices were also built around attending the same third-level college.
"I wanted to go where they were going," says Cian (22), a former pupil of Terenure College, Dublin. It didn't work out like that, but he now sees this as blessing.
About a month before the Leaving Cert, fate played a hand when he met a girl at a party who told him about a course in the then IT Tallaght, now incorporated in TU Dublin.
He added it to his list and while initially disappointed not to get one of his top preferences, he accepted the Level 8 BA Advertising and Marketing Communications in Tallaght.
"It was complete chance that I ended up there, but it is probably the best place I could be. I was blown away in first year - the course makes the best use of my strengths."
While most of his friends did go to university, he was very glad of the smaller classes in the institute of technology. "My class size is about 31, so it provides a really good opportunity to get one-to-one with the lecturers," he says.
Cian says he has "really thrived". He credits the strong staff-student relationships with helping him to land summer work in a marketing communications company.
A big strength of the course is the practical learning and, during third year, he was on a real-life project with the outdoor advertising agency Kinetic. He was on one of a number of teams charged with coming up with a campaign brief for Coca-Cola.
His team was short-listed to present to Coca-Cola executives in Blanchardstown and although ultimately they didn't win, Cian says he "can't put a value" on the experience.
Now about to enter his fourth and final year, he is looking forward to his hands-on internship in the second semester.