Higher Options checklist: Know why you are attending and be prepared

Be open to exploring colleges and courses you may not have initially considered

Representatives from all the main Irish universities and further and higher education institutes will be in attendance at Higher Options 2023 to answer questions put to them by students.

Making an informed decision about what study options are available after the Leaving Cert is important, and Higher Options offers students who wish to engage directly with multiple universities and educational institutions a valuable opportunity to do just that under the one roof.

Most students will spend about three hours at the event and it is well worth putting in some prep ahead of attending.

1. Know why you are attending

Ask yourself what you want to take away from the event. Take some time to reflect on your career goals, concerns, and any specific questions you have. Do you want to find out about individual colleges, or a particular course, or find out about what career your course will lead to?

2. Be prepared

Bring paper and a pen. You will be getting a lot of information and you should be prepared to take notes. You may well find yourself asking a lot of questions so bring some water in case your throat goes dry!

3. Plan your day

Higher Options is a big event and you will be thankful if you plan in advance. Visit The Irish Times website before the event, read the map at the back of the special Higher Options supplement to discover what colleges will be in attendance, where they will be located in the hall and draw up a list of who you want to speak to.

4. Research the courses that interest you

There are a lot of options to consider. Identify the areas that interest you and then visit college websites and draw up a list of questions about the courses they offer. Try to establish if they match your interests and goals.

5. Ask about the college

Ask the college representatives about the college itself. These questions may include queries about academic programmes, campus life, financial assistance and extracurricular activities.

6. Prepare a set of practical questions

Ask about the cost of living where the college is located, how good/bad is the accommodation situation. What are the admission requirements, what are the class sizes, and what is the retention rate?

7. Be patient

Higher Options attract 20,000-25,000 students and you may have to wait to talk to a college representative. Be patient. The wait will be worth it as talking to the representative will be helpful to you as you decide what course you want to study after the Leaving Cert.

8. Leave your comfort zone

There will be colleges at Higher Options that you may not have considered before. Be open to talking to their representatives. Most colleges will offer similar courses, ask what they think sets them apart from the competition — you might be pleasantly surprised!

9. Attend a talk

Higher Options features speakers on a wide range of topics. Check irishtimes.com/education for more information.

10. Labhair Gaeilge linn!

If you are interested in a career with Irish or even if you just want to take a break, some craic agus comhrá, visit our Ceathrú Ghaeltachta.

11. Paperwork

Make sure you take the time after the event to review the brochures, leaflets and information you receive from the college representatives.

12. Follow up

Send follow-up emails to the admissions officers or representatives you spoke with, and ask any further questions you may have about their institution and/or the courses they offer.

13. Open days

Read The Irish Times’ special Open Days supplement in mid-October where we will look at what to watch out for as you take the next steps on the road to choosing your college course.

  • Higher Options 2023 will take place in the main hall at the RDS, Dublin, on September 20th, 21st and 22nd