Attending Higher Options? Go prepared!

Important for students to prepare before visting expo in order to make the most of the opportunity

The Student Hub at the Higher Options conference at the RDS. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

The Student Hub at the Higher Options conference at the RDS. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times


This week The Irish Times published Higher Options, a special magazine dedicated to the 2017 Higher Options expo at the RDS. This special supplement is designed to help guide you through your visit to the biggest third-level expo in Ireland.

Even if you cannot make it to the RDS you will find plenty of information here on our website that will be of use to you as consider what option to take once you complete the Leaving Cert.

At Higher Options, you will have the opportunity to make contact with university representatives from colleges around the country and further afield to help you make an informed decision about what course you will study and what type of institution you will attend.

No matter whether you are interested in obtaining information about life on campus, more in-depth detail about the courses on offer, funding or accommodation, Higher Options is the best opportunity you will have to discover what you really need to know.

Chances are, you already have a rough idea about what you would like to do after college. But don’t worry if you haven’t reached that point yet – there is plenty of time for you to consider your options. Think about what type of college is best for you. Have a chat with your career guidance counsellor, talk to your parents, and research the courses that may interest you.

Higher Options is a fantastic opportunity for you to get a feel for each institution, but as with any event of this size, it can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what to expect. It is therefore important to prepare yourself beforehand in order to make the most of your visit.

Download our printable Higher Options 2017 map , and if you highlight some of the colleges you want to talk to before you’re at the event, it will help you to plan your visit wisely.

Write down a list of questions. As a rule of thumb, it is a good idea to ask the same questions of each representative as you will want as measured an understanding of each institution as is possible.

Tailor your questions to suit your interests and needs. Ask about the course. What are the academic requirements, will the course make you more employable? What areas are covered in the course and how is it assessed? How big are lectures/classes and does the course feature one-on-one/group supervision? Don’t forget the practical questions – they can be just as important. Ask about the accommodation options: how much does university accommodation cost, how far are rooms from the campus, and how much should students budget for each year?

Of course, college is not just about classes, lectures and exams. It is also where you will spend some of the most memorable years of your life. You should ask about what there is to do on campus when you’re not in class or at the library studying. Ask about sporting facilities, societies, local points of interest. They may seem facile in the grand scheme of things but answers to these questions can help you decide if a particular college setting is the right one for you.

Another tip worth remembering is that you should ask the representatives for contact details in case you have any further questions you may want to ask later.

Finally, even if you cannot make it to Higher Options, sign up to The Irish Times email series – the 2nd Level digest ( /2ndlevel/) – and you will receive a number of emails throughout the year featuring stories and advice from The Irish Times education team about the CAO, Leaving Cert, career guidance and other topics. Bain taitneamh as!