A recent Higher Education Authority (HEA) report has found that one in six students drop out of college – about 7,000 students overall – as some students decided not to continue second year of their course with valid reason.
The initial days of college are nervy, daunting, and exciting all in one. Many students hope to secure a place on a course that will gain them entry into the profession they desire. But for some, the rising points, weak subject, or just a bad day during an exam can take it out of their hands when CAO results are published.
Griffith College schools liaison officer Richard Murphy explains that there is no need for students or parents to too stressed:
· Talk to Guidance Counsellors. This might seem obvious, but many students don’t avail of the career guidance services that their school offers. Even with cut-backs, most guidance counsellors are available throughout fourth, fifth and sixth year and significantly, many will make themselves available when the leaving certificate results are out. There are also many private guidance counsellors who will be able to dedicate more time in helping you make sure you choose the right course – it’s their job!
· Choose the course you want to do. Many students will feel pressure from parents, siblings and even friends to do a certain course, but remember you are the one who is going to dedicate the next three or four years of your life to it. Employment prospects are also an important factor, no one wants to be leaving the student union and joining the dole queue, but don’t let that be the only major factor in your decision. Choose the course that you want to do and take time to consider your options.
· Factor in costs. Finances are cited as one of the most common reasons for dropping out. When choosing your course make sure you factor in costs that will go with attending a certain college – will you have to seek and pay for accommodation, are there other course fees or student contribution charges, do you actually qualify for that grant? Also depending on what course you choose, you might have extra expenses – a fashion or art course for example will see you raiding your piggy bank for materials more often than a student studying business.
· Research the college and course. A surprisingly large amount of students will accept a place on a course in a college they have never even visited. Colleges have a large number of open days throughout the year and it is hugely important that the student (and parents) visits the campus so that they can get a feel for the place and it’s ethos. A glossy prospectus and wonderful website imagery can’t hide the fact that the student union is a shed and the “canteen” is in fact a chicken fillet roll from the Londis across the road.
· Remember your options. Most students will find themselves being offered at least two choices through the CAO – a level 8 and level 6/7 option. If your level 8 isn’t truly what you want to do but your level 6/7 is still in that area, then you would be wise choosing your level 6/7 which can often lead onto a full level 8 qualification.
Lastly, private colleges offer a huge amount of choice, excellent facilities and teaching, and can actually work out the same cost per year as going public due to lower fees in recent years and tax relief incentives.
Richard also says, “While dedicating time to school work and study is of utmost importance to secure the best results in the Leaving Cert, it is also essential that due time is given to researching what course and college will be the right fit for you.
College is an important time in any student’s development and picking the right course will ultimately secure the career you are working towards.”