Choosing a college course was easy for me, or so I thought. I was adamant that I knew what I wanted to study, and where I wanted to study it. But looking back, I’ve learned that I really wasn’t that well informed. Of course our career guidance teacher tried to help us out, but with one class a week and over 90 students it wasn’t exactly possible to give undivided attention to everyone individually. So here are a few of the things that I wish I’d known/did/didn’t do when I filled out that scary little CAO form.
- Don’t choose a course for the money
I can’t even recall how many times I was told “Just be a teacher, sure the money’s great and you get loads of holidays!” and at one point I actually considered it. But when I got to college I was seriously glad that I didn’t go down that route; the amount of people that I’ve met who hate their course and only chose it because of the money you’ll get in the job after is crazy. Seeing future engineers struggling with their 500 hours of college a week and mountain of work that they’re not even interested in frankly pains me a little. If you choose a course that you’re not going to be interested in, all you’re doing is making life more difficult for yourself. If you don’t like it, you won’t attend lectures or study, and where will that lead to? Dropping out and changing course. Save yourself the hassle and pick a course that you like the idea of, will be interested in and think you’ll be good at.
- Do your research
I can’t shout this out to you leaving certs enough, research, research and research some more! I thought I had everything possible looked at when it came to the course that I wanted, which was Midwifery. Basically, all I did was look up all the colleges that did the course and fired them onto my CAO form. I can now see that if I’d gotten Midwifery, I more than likely would have ended up either overloaded with stress and anxiety or dropping out altogether. My advice for looking at courses would be first of all, to research all the colleges that do the course, taking into account the points difference. The best college won’t necessarily have the highest points. I know on the UL site, there’s contact numbers and email addresses for course directors. Don’t be afraid to contact them and ask questions about the course, that’s what they’re there for. Even have them get you into contact with somebody who’s currently doing the course, to get their opinions of it. You can never have enough information! Finally, and most importantly, check what modules you’ll be doing. This is something that I should have done but didn’t, and it catches a lot of people out, especially with Maths. There’s a lot of courses that include maths that you wouldn’t really think would. Make sure you know what you’re letting yourself in for!
- Don’t listen to “You won’t get a job out of that course.”
This was something that I listened to, and could have very ended up regretting. I always loved writing and had a passion for English, but was told to keep away from Journalism because there were “no jobs in it” and it was a “dying career”. Subsequently, I put Journalism and New Media in UL down as 7th on my CAO form and after missing my first choice by a mere 5 points, ended up getting it. Fate? I think so! Let me tell you a little about the six months of experience that I’ve had with this “dying career”. Two weeks after I started, I had an interview published in The Irish Sun. I’ve had an article published with TheJournal.ie (and *spoiler* another one coming up). I run a blog that’s had many successful posts and have racked up almost 20,000 views. Because of this blog, I had a piece published in a book on mental health where all proceeds went to Pieta House. I contribute articles to different websites such as SpunOut.ie and Campus.ie, and I’m about to start a weekly mental health column for an up and coming online magazine. I’m part of the team of social media coordinators on Instagram for Darkness Into Light (follow us, we follow back: www.instagram.com/darknessintolight.ie) and I’m also the Public Relations Manager for a new Netflix documentary in production, which I’ll be getting paid for. Sure, I’m not getting paid for 90% of that stuff but you know what? I enjoy it. It’s going to look great on my CV and we all have to start at the bottom, even nurses do unpaid placement nowadays. So back to the point: I’m only in first year and I’ve already done lots with this career. The more you try, the more you succeed my friends.
I hope you all learned a little from this!