How to make the best use of higher options

You've been at school for a few weeks. The summer is over and the depressing reality of Leaving Cert lies ahead of you. In addition, you will have to start thinking about which program or continuing education you like. Or, as some people tell you in a misleading way, what you want to do with the rest of your life (in fact, this is just one of the many decisions you will make in your career).

Higher options is an interruption of daily learning and an opportunity to think about your future. For this journalist it was a missed opportunity: I went to the conference, half-heartedly visited a few stalls and then got on the bus to hang around the park all day.

Not preparing for the event, not using it properly and not following what I had seen was a big mistake. I had missed the opportunity to ask the right questions from the right people when I had them all in the same building and as a result I had to spend a lot more time on the next year during my course research.

Do not be like me. Do not waste the day and pay it the following year. I can not even remember what we did in the park.

We spoke to a number of experts about how to get the most out of this important annual conference. Ronan Kennedy is an independent career coach. Ailbe Murphy is career counselor with popular website and works as a career counseling coach at the high school Jesus and Mary in Enniscrone, Co Sligo. Betty McLaughlin is a counseling counselor at Coláiste Mhuire CBS Mullingar and a former chairman of the Institute of Guidance Counselors. And last but not least, Sarah Geraghty, student recruitment and outreach manager at NUI Galway, has the most important perspective of the sector at the third level to make good use of the day.

What to do for higher options

Ronan Kennedy: "Do as much research as you can before the event Go online, read about the courses and colleges, talk to people, watch video" s – whatever you give information, so you can, instead of just general ask questions where you can find the information yourself, ask specific questions: what kind of people do well in this course What should be avoided What advice would you give for people in my position?

"Do not just concentrate on the course: some people want to go to college for the third level experience and studying may not be their main focus, in which case an intensive course of 9 am – 5 pm in architecture or engineering may not be for you. "

Sarah Geraghty: "If you have a course in mind, Higher Options offers you the opportunity to ask questions and find information that goes beyond what is in the prospectus.If you do not know which courses or careers to follow, you can determine Higher Options What is right for your skills and ambitions The key is to plan ahead of time what you want to explore Set goals to help you stay focused. "

Betty McLaughlin: "You will not be able to go to all stands, so be sure to check out the exhibitors' map The Irish Times provides in advance and has a list of who you really want to visit. Use or the supplement with higher options to determine which questions you want to ask and write down these questions so that you do not forget them. "

Ailbe Murphy: "I am attending this with my sixth year so that they can gather information early in the year, they see that they are competing with thousands of students for a university place." Research before attending is vital. "In your copy, brainstorm and ask yourself what you are interested in after school Is education at the third level for you What type of university or training center do you want to attend? Which course do you want to study? It is important for students to look at their strengths and their academic skills and to adapt these to certain careers where possible.

Make an appointment with your study advisor before you leave. Bring parents or guardians into your research as they know you best. Is staying away from an option an option? Look outside the Republic of Ireland for British options via UCAS, or in Europe via Eunicas. Talk to your parents about finances and what you can afford. Search to see if you qualify for a scholarship on the third level. provides information about the options Dare (handicap access) and Hear (higher education access route). Find the CAO points from last year. Are you realistic? Make a list of your topics, levels and predicted figures, and do not exclude apprenticeships, PLC courses and level 6 and 7 courses.

"Check if there are specific subject or grade requirements. If the course is limited, you may need to register for HPat [the aptitude test for medicine applicants] or complete a portfolio or review. Inquire about scholarships from each lecture and application deadlines.

"Bring an empty school bag for brochures, brochures and prospectuses."

What to do at the expo

Ronan Kennedy: "Do not forget the practical reality If your chosen course means that you have to commute more than an hour a day, do you really get out of bed and you go? Ask for the vacancies a course can offer. but if, for example, you do a course in sports and movement science or journalism, the number of places in these courses is not reflected in the number of available jobs. Do not be tempted by a good sales conversation, such as offering a free laptop or a year abroad during this course: choose your course for the right reasons. "

Betty McLaughlin: "Ask what the course entails, what the minimum requirements are and whether it requires specific mathematical or language skills If you do not have those skills, you can go into the first year, consider your strengths and what would motivate you to go to the to go to university – that can be based on your interests and skills.

"The CAO is not the only show in the city – while you're at Higher Options, you should definitely ask questions about colleges in England, as well as pupil and follow-up courses."

Sarah Geraghty: "When you arrive, you visit priority schools and be first, it may take longer than you think to find the right representative to talk to, and in busy times you may have to wait a few minutes. have little time Once your priorities have been ticked, you can spend time browsing and discovering. "

Ailbe Murphy: "Pick up a folder and spend a few minutes deciding where you want to go.This is also available online so you can print it out and mark selected exhibitors.Start right away, visit tribunes and talk to the representatives and students of the college. "

"At the stand of the Institute for Counseling Advisors, students can ask questions to supervisors, get advice and receive a worksheet to fill in during the exhibition to help them explore their options on the day itself.

"Research access courses, PLC courses, internships and level 6 and 7 options.

"Attend some career discussions and you could surprise yourself by finding something completely unexpected, keep everything in mind and remember that the more you apply, the more choice you have."

What to do after higher options

Ronan Kennedy: "If the dust has been resolved and you have had some time to view, follow the follow-up. You may have more specific questions, such as: can a law student or student of law students transfer to the regular course after a year if they decide that French is no longer for them, can they do their work experience in Spain?

"When you look at your options, you should not compromise the alternatives to courses and internships after leaving Cert.Many people go to the third level through the CAO because they think this is where the well-paid jobs are, but that is true or not, and there are many well-paid jobs in the trade.Another option is to travel or work a year after school.

"Contact your career counselor if some PLC & # 39; s or level 6 and 7 certificate courses can lead to level 8. If you look at the UK, find out what the requirements are."

Betty McLaughlin: "Bring the prospectus home and view the websites of the university Follow-up by finding out when the open days are on So you want to see in advance which faculties and courses you find interesting.

"It is important to find out on the open day what the extracurricular side of university life is, which sports clubs do they have? In which societies, such as drama or debating, can you participate? the third level in which you study and clubs and associations are the best way to do this, and they are also a way to learn skills that you find interesting: if you like film, you can learn how to use a camera; if you like journalism or politics, you can get involved with the college or student union.

"You can follow up the accommodation and learn more about the costs and availability You also have to sit down and calculate the costs involved in your chosen course: do you have to live away from home and if so, can your family pay for it? • Working for the university a year could be a way to cover some of these costs. & # 39;

Sarah Geraghty: "It will not be long before you have forgotten the interesting details and tips you've learned from speaking with representatives, so it's good to note remarkable details before you hide the leaflets.When you're at home, browse through the material , lower pages & # 39; s and make notes while the information is still fresh in your head.

"Most students visit Higher Options without their parents or caregivers, so it's a good idea to keep your family members informed about what you've learned at Higher Options and what you're planning to do."

Ailbe Murphy: "I repeat that parents or guardians should be involved in reading the material so that they can help you make decisions and become involved in your career." and have informational sections for parents.

"Investigate your local training center or PLC provider to learn more about internships and day / evening courses.

Follow-up open days, write them in your diary and select the ones you want to follow seriously Always prepare for an open day Make a list of the deadlines for applications, the deadlines for the scholarships and the dates of the applications from campus accommodation and put them in your calendar Some scholarships available to students include the JP McManus All Ireland scholarship for students who are exempt from paying the Leaving Certificate Prize and the Naughton Foundation Scholarship for students who are interested in applying for STEM courses You will be busy studying, making college requests, preparing for trial exams, orals and practicals, but you must take responsibility for meeting all deadlines.

"Book an appointment with your study advisor to discuss your options If you think about third level education, register early for UCAS or Eunicas and prepare your personal statement Register in November for CAO to use of the early-bird discount and so you can start with your Hear and Dare application.

"Remember that there is something for everyone, but you have to explore the many options, prepare for research and apply for everything that interests you, some students know what they want to do after school, others do not, if you're one of the latter Do not be stressed – look at your strengths and keep your options open by studying something interesting for you instead of limiting yourself to one area.You can later change direction with a postgraduate or a master program.

"Education is a lifelong process – good luck in the coming year – work hard for the few short months, believe in yourself and you will achieve it."

Higher options 2018 will take place at the RDS Simmonscourt, Dublin, on 12, 13 and 14 September, every day from 9 am to 3 pm

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