My son is obsessed with sport – are there any third-level options for him?

Ask Brian: Sport often tops students’ aptitude profiles – though few go on to study it

Sport regularly tops students’ aptitude profiles. Photograph: iStock

Sport regularly tops students’ aptitude profiles. Photograph: iStock


My son goes into transition year next September and will have to choose his subjects for the Leaving. He loves sport and would love to do anything connected with this – possibly teaching as well. What subject choices do you recommend – and what third-level courses are available?

The process of selecting subjects for the Leaving Cert normally take place in April/May of transition year.

Typically, most schools offer a taster of all their Leaving Cert subjects and only then seek their students’ subject options.

Some schools also administer a set of aptitude tests – such as the “differential aptitudes tests” – or a combined interest inventory and aptitude test such as the Cambridge profile ( ) – which help to outline the subjects which may be appropriate for a student to study.

These tests can help students make an informed decision as to their subject choices.

Over my professional life as a guidance counsellor, it seems as if up to half of them end up with sport at the top of their occupational interests list. It is natural that 18- or 19-year-olds would indicate a desire to pursue a career in sport. Sadly, there are probably no more than 1 per cent of any Leaving Cert year group who can aspire to earn a comfortable living wage from sport.

Within that cohort, only a handful will ever earn the six-figure sums which the top sports stars earn for a brief period of their life.

However, engagement in sport, making the dietary, lifestyle, and fitness choices necessary to achieve success, is to be encouraged among our young people, especially in a world struggling with growing obesity.

If you wish to explore the various sports degree options on offer through the CAO, simply log onto and proceed to the course search engine. Under “sport”, there are currently nine courses so identified at level 8 (higher degree) and six at level 6/7 (advanced certificate /ordinary degree).

The full details of every aspect of each programme are presented on each course page, which will enable you and your son, over the next three years, to familiarise yourselves with what is on offer.

Some of the highest-profiles courses include UL’s sport and exercise science, which required 456 points in 2018.

DCU offers sports science and health, UCD sports and exercise management.

Carlow IT offers six separate sports degree programmes, Waterford and Sligo two each, while Athlone and GMIT offer a single sports programme.

In truth, it does not matter which “carrot” motivates a student to commit fully to their studies during their final years in school, even if ultimately it does not lead to them studying it at degree level.

Parents should support their children’s aspirations and allow life’s journey to take its own course.