Going to Higher Options? Plan ahead!

It’s important for students to prepare before visiting Higher Options in order to make the most of the opportunity

Thousands of secondary students are expected to attend the 2019 Higher Options expo. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Thousands of secondary students are expected to attend the 2019 Higher Options expo. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill


Welcome to the Higher Options 2019 magazine! This special supplement has been put together to help you navigate your way around the biggest third-level event for students in Ireland

We have gathered representatives of all the top colleges from Ireland and abroad under one roof to give you an opportunity to engage with them as you prepare to take those first steps towards deciding what you want to do after secondary school.

You will find plenty of information in this magazine and on our website (irishtimes.com/2ndlevel/) that will be of use to you as you consider what option to take once you complete the Leaving Cert.

Higher education institutions from at home and abroad are represented at Higher Options (which takes place in the RDS from Wednesday 18th to Friday 20th September) and you will have the opportunity to talk to their representatives to help you make an informed decision about what course you will study and what type of institution you will attend.-

As Higher Options 2019 organiser Janet Stafford says “Higher Options provides an unrivalled opportunity to students who will have big decisions to make this academic year.”

Even if you already have an idea about what you would like to do, you may not have decided on what type of college you would like to attend or what particular course would best suit you.

“Over the three days of the event students can speak with representatives from the Irish universities, institutes of technology, colleges of further education and private colleges,” says Stafford.

“Representatives also attend from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, The Netherlands, France, Hungary, Poland, and the United States. ”


Before you attend the event, it would be a good idea to think about what type of college might be best for you. Have a chat with your career guidance counsellor, talk to your parents, and research the courses that may interest you.

But don’t worry if you haven’t reached that point yet – there is plenty of time to consider your options.

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 exactly what you want to do after the Leaving Cert. It is therefore important to prepare yourself beforehand in order to make the most of your visit.

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

Read through this supplement. Take note of what questions you wish to ask. 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.

Of course Higher Options is always evolving to reflect the changing nature of Ireland’s demographic and education landscape. This year’s expo is no different ans features some new additions that should be of interest to students considering an alternative approach to the traditional third-level route.

The new ‘Generation Apprenticeship village’ will provide visitors with an opportunities to find out about on-the-job learning and qualifications as well.

Interests and needs

Tailor your questions to suit your interests and needs. Ask about the various courses on offer. What are the academic requirements, what courses will make you more employable? What areas are covered in each course and how are they assessed? How big are lectures/classes and do they feature one-on-one or group supervision?

Don’t forget related 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 you 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 irrelevant 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 representatives for contact details in case you have any further questions you may want to ask later.

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.

As Janet Stafford says “This is an opportunity to find all the information under one roof that any student needs to make choices about their future learning and careers.”

Bain taitneamh as!