Ask Brian: I’m struggling with my college course. Should I drop out ?
There can be heavy financial consequences depending on when you leave a course
If you are uncertain about your course, you need to ask yourself do you genuinely want to spend the next three years working hard on those subjects? Photo: iStock
Question: I recently started a degree at my local institute of technology, but it was my sixth choice. I’m struggling with maths lectures and not sure I’m in the right place. I have an offer from my local PLC college for a place. What should I do?
Answer: Firstly, approach your maths lecturer and seek his advice and help with your difficulty in his subject. Many third-level colleges have maths support classes for all first-year students. Go along and sign up for a series of classes.
If you are uncertain about the course, you need to re-evaluate the entire curriculum content and structure.
Ask yourself, honestly, do you genuinely want to spend the next three years working hard on those subjects?
If not, have the courage to pull out now before you incur additional costs.
Timing is important. Each college has a cut-off date for students to withdraw from a course without incurring financial penalties.
You need to go immediately to the registration office in your college and get written confirmation as to those dates.
Firstly, there is a date up to which colleges will allow you to withdraw from the course, and will return your student registration charge (worth €3,000 for a full academic year) to you,
Secondly, there is a date on which colleges will notify the Higher Education Authority (HEA) that you are a registered student of the course you are attending.
After that date, the HEA will pay the college several thousand euro on your behalf, as it does for all regular students.
Once the notification date has passed, even if you withdraw from your programme by Christmas, you will both pay the first half of any registration charge plus the full HEA funding amount to any college where you would start a new programme in September 2018.
In other words, if you wait until February 2018 to pull out, you will bear the full year cost of both charges which will be at least €7,000.
The final date by which most PLC colleges will accept a new student onto a programme is September 30th, as the number of registered students they have on their books on this date determines their teacher supply allocation for the following year.
If you were to take up the PLC place , you may well secure one of your higher CAO choices based on your QQI (Quality & Qualifications Ireland) award through the further education award places, which are offered in mid-summer by the CAO each year.
You therefore need to be highly proactive in addressing your dilemma in the coming days, as any delay may prove to be very financially expensive for both you and your parents.
You might consider visiting the guidance counsellor in the school you have just left. He/she will be more than happy to advise you.