Help! I Don’t Know What to Study in College!

By Steven Galvin - Last update

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“Help! I Don’t Know What to Study in College!” Is this a worry of yours? Are you struggling to think about what you want do after the Leaving Cert. Well, first of all – don’t panic. Many people are in a similar situation and thinking the exact same thing, so don’t worry. Rather than seeing it as a negative, let’s flip it and see it as a positive moment in that it is giving you the opportunity to start making decisions about your future.

Help! I Don’t Know What to Study in College!

So let’s start at the beginning…

Think about yourself

Don’t worry if  your friends know what they want to study or what courses they are thinking of doing at college. Start with asking yourself a few questions. What do you like studying? What do you like learning about? Think about what your favourite subjects are – maybe they tie in to your hobbies and interests outside school? This is a great starting point and can help narrow down what might be best for you to study in college.

What are you good at?

It may not be your favourite subject but maybe you are excelling in a particular subject and always getting good marks. Sometimes people have a natural talent for something and don’t realise it because it’s not their favourite subject. If you’re always doing well in something then this is a great time to look further into it and see what type of courses colleges offer related to that subject.

More than 7 subjects

It’s really important to think beyond the Leaving Cert subjects. College is the perfect place to explore your strengths and drill down into the layers and various opportunities beyond the subject. For example, maybe you’re good at football so perhaps a course in Sports Science or Nutrition & Exercise Science or Physio would be something you’re interested in. Explore the different range of courses that are linked to what you are good at and see if there’s a course that stands out.

Research the course

You need to spend time doing some research. Take a look at the course – how long is it? What will you be studying? What are the modules? What are the options for exams / assessment. You know your strengths so find a course that reflects them. You may be writing essays or doing projects or being assessed and you want to be sure you can shine so take  a look at what the course expects of you and if it’s a right fit.

Visit the college

Don’t just rush into taking a course without knowing something about the place you’ll be studying. Visit the campus. Go to an open day. Explore the facilities. Maybe you want to be involved in extracurricular activities that reflect your interests. You love film – is there a film club? What are the other social clubs like. Are the sports facilities what you want? A good tip to get a feel for the place is that you can tell a lot about a college just by looking at the notice boards!

Get advice

When you do visit a college or take part in an open day, speak to the lecturers and current students. Ask them questions about the course – what do they look for in good students. What have past students gone on to do? Why would they recommend the course. At school, talk to your guidance counsellor, listen to their advice. Maybe you have a favourite teacher? Chat to them about your situation and ask for their advice . And talk to your parents about what you are considering.

Beyond Full-Time Education

Remember there’s so much more to life after school than taking the CAO route to college. Maybe an Apprenticeship is something to consider where you are able to combine learning in your place of work with learning in an education or training centre, which also gives you a chance to earn and learn.

There’s also Further Education and Training (FET) as an alternative route into college and PLC courses that offer a mix of practical work, academic work and work experience.

Whatever you end up doing, have a think about it, research, ask questions and get advice. You’ll find the right path for you! is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level, CAO and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses and colleges.

Steven Galvin

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