My story: 'The classes are smaller than in a university'
Molly Scott | IT Carlow
Star sprinter Molly Scott was not short of exciting options when she was considering her college choices last year.
She wanted to study law but, as an international athlete with ambitions to represent her country in the 2020 Olympics, her training regime is just as important as her academic studies.
While at school, Molly's heart was set on a choice between two universities in Dublin, and she even had an elite sports scholarship for one of them in the bag. The Hacketstown, Co Carlow native also had a few sports scholarship offers from the USA.
But Molly - a former pupil of Scoil Chonglais, Baltinglass, Co Wicklow - used the CAO 'change of mind' period to consider all her choices again.
That's when it dawned on her that she didn't need to leave her home county, and she plumped for the three-year Level 8 Law (LL.B) in the Institute of Technology, Carlow (IT Carlow), where a sports scholarship was also on the table.
Molly admits it was hard to turn her back on a long-term goal to attend university in Dublin, but key to her decision was the fact that her mother, Deirdre Scott, is also her trainer. It meant that, as well as the supports offered by IT Carlow, her coach would be at hand. "It really suits me, because I train two to three hours a day, six days a week," she says.
IT Carlow's elite scholarship programme recognises the college's very best athletes competing at the highest level in their chosen sport, with benefits that include financial assistance, personal strength and conditioning programme, advice on diet and nutrition, injury rehabilitation, and supports around balancing her studies with her training regime and competitions.
Ultimately, Molly says, she "chose the college that most wanted me".
The 19-year-old also believes that, from a study point of view, it was definitely the right one for her: "The classes are smaller than in a university and the lecturers know me by name."
Her law lecturer, Ivan James Sheeran, says she has "managed to strike an excellent balance between wholehearted engagement with her studies and the necessary investment of time and effort to become a truly world-class athlete".
Molly's preconception about an IT being only for locals has also been turned on its head. "I couldn't have been more wrong; there are students from all over Ireland and all over the world," she says.
In an athletics career spanning almost a decade, Molly has won many accolades. This summer, her sporting feats included being one of the four-person Irish Women's 4x100m relay team that struck silver in spectacular fashion at the U20 IAAF World Championships, setting a new national relay record.
Since then, she was selected to compete in the 4x100m at the European Championships in Berlin earlier this month, her first ever senior team.