How Leaving Cert students can narrow their college course search

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Applying to college? Chances are you’ve been asked about what you want to do your whole life, but how do you narrow your search and make a decision?

The first time someone asked what did you want to be when you grew up you probably couldn’t answer. Because you were a toddler.

The first time someone mentioned college to you, you were probably still in primary school.

Secondary school students are surrounded by information on college courses and careers. There are visits to colleges, talks in the classroom from colleges, and the chance to do work experience. But how do you cut through the noise? Here are some ways to narrow your search.

1 Know yourself Where do your interests lie in both academic terms and in your personal life? Our online booklet How to research your CAO options has some worksheets to help Leaving Cert students figure out where their interests like and how to compare similar courses in various colleges and another to compare the cost of going to different colleges.

2 Research courses you have an interest in Once you know yourself and your interests you are better placed to start researching in detail the right courses for you. Research can include online searches, visiting careers websites, college websites and reading through handbooks and prospectuses. Compare courses and make lists of questions to ask about them.

3 Research colleges, campuses and cities/towns See if the colleges that run courses you are interested in have an open day or facilitate campus tours. There’s nothing like visiting a place in person to get a feel for it. You can also do research online about the characteristics and strengths of various institutes.

4 Talk to people As part of your research put together a list of questions to ask lecturers, students or graduates. Can your family or a college help you contact someone working in an area or studying a course you’re interested in?

The earlier you can narrow your search, the better. Leave it to close to exam time and you will be conflicted between studying and research. Leave it till after the Leaving Cert and you will have lost your chance to speak to lecturers who will be on holidays by then.

Everything you need is at

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