Navigating Ireland’s biggest third-level event for secondary students

Higher Options 2021: The more information you have, the more empowered you will be

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

At Higher Options 2021 you will find representatives of all the top colleges from Ireland and abroad all under the one roof. You will have an opportunity to engage with them and ask questions about the colleges they teach in, the courses they teach and what else campus life might have to offer.

The following list explains what Higher Options is all about and suggests some questions you might ask as you begin your research on what you want to do after you finish secondary school.

1 What is Higher Options? Higher Options 2021 is an online education expo where institutions from at home and abroad are represented. You will have the opportunity to talk to them to help you make an informed decision about what course you will study and what type of institution you will attend.

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2. What makes it so special? While most institutions organise their own open days, Higher Options brings them all under the one roof, meaning that you can engage with several institutions in a short time. 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.

3. What are the talks about? We have numerous speakers who will discuss multiple topics ranging from Careers in Media, Gairmeacha le Gaeilge to Careers in Business, Engineering, Nursing to Careers in Sport & Exercise. We will also feature expert speakers on the practicalities of applying to college and studying abroad.

4. How do I prepare? 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.

5. What questions should I ask? 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. Tailor your questions to suit your interests and needs. Prepare a list: 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? Remember you can ask representatives for contact details in case you have any further questions you may want to ask later.

6. Anything else? 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?

7. What about the social side? Of course, college is not just about classes, lectures and exams! You will spend some of the most memorable years of your life at college so you should certainly 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.

8. And finally… where do I sign up? Visit higheroptions.vfairs.com to register. You will find plenty of information to help you in this supplement and on our website (irishtimes.com/higheroptions) that will be of use to you as you consider your next steps.

Éanna Ó Caollaí

Éanna Ó Caollaí

Éanna Ó Caollaí is an Irish Times journalist and editor of the Irish Times Student Hub