‘My son still can’t make his mind up over what college course to choose’

Ask Brian: Engaging directly with individual colleges is a good start

It’s very difficult for a teenager to make a career or study decision when they have had limited experience of the outside world. Photograph: iStock

It’s very difficult for a teenager to make a career or study decision when they have had limited experience of the outside world. Photograph: iStock

 

My son is sitting the Leaving Cert next June. He has a shortlist of dozens of potential courses, but has no idea what to focus on. I’m worried that he’ll make the wrong decision. Can you help?

Your son isn’t alone. It’s very difficult for a teenager to make a career or study decision when they have had limited experience of the outside world. The good news is that he has identified courses that he’s interested in; the next step is finding out more about them. This stage of research is crucial.

A good first step could be to attend Higher Options, an education exhibition for second-level students. This long-running event – which is online this year – has lots of information your son will need to make informed decisions about his further- and higher-education study options.

He will be able to engage directly with representatives from universities, colleges and education institutions from Ireland, the UK, Europe and beyond.

The event,which is run by The Irish Times in association with the Institute of Guidance Counsellors, includes a programme of talks and live Q&A sessions on careers in areas such as engineering, nursing, Irish, agriculture, sports, climate and sustainability, bio and medical sciences, law and arts. It is a good way to hear from people working in these fields about the best entry routes.

In addition, representatives from the CAO, universities, colleges, further education institutions and educational bodies are available in the virtual exhibition hall to respond to students’ and parents’ questions about the applications process.

Exhibitors from individual institutions will also be able to answer questions on individual courses in group chats and one-to-one discussions. They will also be able to advise participants on what material to gather from their stand for further information.

All talks and exhibitor material will be available on-demand to ticket holders after the event is over for a further 30 days.

Alongside information about courses on offer through the CAO application process, the event will also provide extensive information on further education (FE) opportunities and apprenticeship routes.

Irish students have always attended UK and Northern Irish universities in high numbers, but this attendance has decreased in recent years since NHS (UK National Health Service) funding was cut for those studying for medical, para-medical and nursing programmes. A representative of the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service will be speaking at the event.

For any Leaving Cert student or those commencing a programme of study at FE, I could not suggest a more appropriate means of clarifying their career goals than participating in this event.

Higher Options runs on October 13th and 14th from 12pm-6pm. Tickets (€10) will allow access on both days and can be accessed from school and at home. A supplement with today’s edition provides more details.