Choosing the right college course
How students make their choices of third-level educational courses can be a complex process, starting much further back than the actual process of applying to college.
The steps of discovery along the way, both planned and accidental, can and should be many. They involve, among other things, school career guidance programmes, transition-year work experience programmes, college open days, the inspiration of a teacher, and the example and models of parents and older siblings and other key figures in their lives.
There is an increasing assumption nowadays that most students will continue on from school to further education of some sort. Sometimes it is hard for pupils to visualise what the college experience really is.
There is a tendency for some students to choose their third-level options on the basis of the number of points they expect to achieve in the Leaving Certificate, rather than on their particular aptitudes and interests. Many of the subjects offered at third-level do not feature in the second-level curriculum, particular in the latest technological areas. The result is that a considerable number of students discover that they have started on courses that may be unsuitable to them. They need a programme that allows them to discover more about the nature of college courses.
UCD offers an introductory programme, and it will host the 2010 UCD UniLife Summer School from June 8-11 this year. UniLife is aimed at students who are just finishing fifth year who know what discipline they want to pursue at university, but don't know what path to take through their degree.
Students find the summer school very useful in confirming their third-level study decisions and many of them return to study in UCD.
The following subjects will participate in UCD's 2010 summer school: Architecture, Agricultural Science, Food Science and Nutrition, Business, Computer Science, Engineering, History, Law and Science. The students get an intensive immersion in a particular area through lectures, practicals and group activities. They also live on campus for a couple of days and experience life through the evening event programme.
Further information is at www.ucd.ie/myucd/unilife
The University of Limerick also traditionally offers the one-week Introduction to a University Programme (IUP), which has been running now since 1989. This is offered on two separate weeks in June. The programme of interactive learning allows the student gain practical experience of the different career options open to them.
Open days: University College Cork (UCC) hosts a Spring Open Day on Friday for pre-booked school groups of Transition and Fifth Year students. On Saturday, NUI Maynooth hosts an information day for anyone interested in University Life. Individual Faculties and Departments will provide short sample lectures on the courses and subjects on offer in the university. You can talk to students about their experiences and staff will also be available. Information will also be available for mature students, and for students linking from FETAC and BTEC courses. More information can be found on the NUI Maynooth website, at www.nuim.ie /university day Also on Saturday All Hallows College, Drumcondra, Dublin 9, hosts an open day from 12pm-3pm. The college offers undergraduate courses in theology, philosophy, psychology and English literature, as well as a range of postgraduate programmes.