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I am interested in going to college and I have an idea of what area I would like to study but I don’t know which course would best suit my needs

Tips for Choosing a 3rd Level Course


1. Self-Assessment

Before you begin researching 3rd level courses, it is important to understand yourself first.  In other words;

  • What type of person are you…what are your personal qualities, what do you love doing and what do you prefer to avoid?
  • What skills do you have and what are your strengths?
  • What are your hobbies and interests?
  • What type of learner are you, e.g. do you learn by doing or can you easily take in information from books?

Learning Styles:

Note: The Career Directions test will match your personal information to a wide variety of course and career areas.  Not everything on this list will be of interest to you so it is worthwhile looking through the list and picking out the ones that you would like to research.  You might see something that you wouldn’t have thought of before.

Once you know more about yourself; your preferences, strengths and abilities, researching courses will be easier to do and you will be able to make a more informed decision!


2. Research

Researching Courses

  • It is important to thoroughly research the courses in which you are interested.  Follow the steps below to get the most out of your research.
  • For courses in Ireland search through the Qualifax website; www.qualifax.ie and the CAO website; www.cao.ie.  You can also go directly to the CIT website; www.cit.ie
  • Location is a major factor when choosing a course.  Are you in a position to move locations or commute and have you thought about the cost of this? Be clear on the CAO application processes for your chosen course, i.e. how do you apply and when are the deadlines?

Understand the entry requirements for the course

  • What are the basic admission requirements for the course?
  • Do you need to have previously studied specific subjects for entry to the course?
  • Do you need to make additional submissions (e.g. a portfolio) or complete an interview (e.g. in Music) as part of the entry requirements?

Look at the subjects or modules for each year of the course, not just 1st year.   (This will be available on the relevant college or university website.)  You need to make sure that your expectations and the actual reality of the course are in line with each other.  The objective is to enjoy the course throughout your time in college. 

Also consider the following when you are researching the courses:

  • Will there be work placement during the course?
  • Will you need to pick a specialism as the course progresses, e.g. after first or second year?

During your research contact the relevant college or university department with specific questions about the course.  Request a meeting or a tour of the department to ensure you are fully informed about the course.

Talk to a Guidance Counsellor in your local VEC.

NB: It is strongly advisable to have a number of choices on you CAO application form.  If you did not receive your first choice what would you like to do next?  Always have a back-up plan with other course choices.

 

3. Researching Careers
It is also beneficial to know what the jobs market is like and to get to know where there is likely to be growth in the future.

According to Ireland’s ‘Expert Group on Future Skills Needs’ (2009) there are no labour shortages at present.  However, there are currently skills shortages in the following areas; specialised high skill areas of IT, Science, Sales/Marketing, Health, Accountancy, Engineering and Management.  Read more on www.skillsireland.ie and www.forfas.ie.

You can research different careers on the following websites;

For even greater insight into careers think about;

  • Talking to friends and family members about the jobs they are doing.
  • Work Shadowing – this involves spending a day or more with someone who works in the career area of interest to you.  Observing them in their day-to-day job can help you to decide if that job/career area is for you.

Begin your Self-Assessment

WHAT DO YOU LOVE DOING?  Name 5 things that you love to do…
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5. 

WHAT ARE YOUR GIFTS?  List 3 skills that come naturally to you…
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WHAT ARE YOUR CAREER DREAMS?  Name 5 careers that you think you would enjoy doing…
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WHAT ENERGISES YOU?  List 3 areas where you get your energy…
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WHAT HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN?  Name 2 areas that you have been involved in and committed to…
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2. 

WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT?  Name 3 areas that you have knowledge of…
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