Prospective third-level students ‘clued-in’ to colleges and careers

Hundreds of pupils flock to ‘Higher Options’ exhibition at RDS

The Irish Times Higher Options event, which has been running for nearly 30 years, opens Wednesday at the RDS Simmonscourt and runs until Friday. This year the event brings together over 160 colleges, universities and institutes of further education.


Hundreds of prospective third-level students flocked to the Higher Options exhibition at the RDS which opened today.

“This is the first point of contact,” said Dr Orla Donoghue, science outreach manager at UCD. “It provides that key first conversation between academics and prospective students.”

Describing the event as a “really big deal” for universities and colleges, Dr Donoghue said the interest and preparedness shown by Leaving Certificate hopefuls was encouraging.

“There were more than 500 at my main lecture,” she said. “Their questions are certainly detailed. These students are already career-focused. They are already matching career options with subjects and that’s very heartening.”

Particularly encouraging, she added, was the evidence that many are thinking of alternative “Plan B” approaches to their chosen career or study path if Plan A does not work out.

Ciara Barrett, a student ambassador for the admissions office at Trinity College, was helping school pupils interested in studying business.

School pupils are already “pretty clued-in” she said.

“For the most part, many of the pupils I spoke to have already got good information from guidance counsellors about what sorts of courses are available. But they might not know what’s available at Trinity specifically or how it differs from other courses – but that’s what this is all about, that’s why I’m here.”

Matthew Lysaght from the admissions office at the Dublin Institute of Technology distributed some 4,000 copies of the DIT prospectus in the opening session.

“For the moment it’s school pupils, 5th and 6th year, I’m expecting more mature students to come in later in the week. Many of them know what they want – they may not know precisely what course they want to do but they know what area they want.”

“I do get the stock questions – what are the points needed, what are the career options later, that kind of thing. For the most part they know what they’re after.

As for the students themselves, some were information hunting for themselves while a few were uncovering the latest information for younger siblings.

Dominic Redmond from Co Laois, left the Simmonscourt pavilion with two carrier bags of prospectuses. “I’m already in college, I came up for my sister to save her taking the day off school. She gave me a list of colleges and the questions she wanted asked and I’ll report back.”

His friend Mark Behan was doing the same. “I’m collecting stuff for my brother. I’ve already been through the mill. I know the questions to ask.”

Like Dominic he attended the Higher Options exhibition when he was still at school. I’m at UCD now doing science but it was here mostly that I found out about my course.”

They said that looking online was useful but talking to academics at the various stalls was invaluable.

The exhibition continues until Friday.