Part two of a two-part series
Last week we addressed some of the most common questions surrounding subject choice.
This week we continue to look at the implications of these choices. Some students know at an early age which career paths they would like to follow, but many more have no idea about the kind of job they would like to have.
The possibility of subject choice in school which becomes available in third year or after transition year is more about choosing areas in which you have an interest rather than deciding on a specific career. The important point however is that you do not preclude yourself from a certain area because you were not aware of entry requirements, otherwise known as matriculation. Apart from interest in the subject area, aptitude and knowledge about entry requirements for third level courses is crucial.
Depending on what you want to study at third level, certain subjects are a “matriculation requirement,” therefore mandatory for courses. These include a science subject for nursing, and for the majority of engineering courses, a third language for NUI colleges, with the exception of engineering and science, a minimum of grade H5 in chemistry required for pharmacy and veterinary, and a H4 for dietetics. Honours maths is a requirement for engineering courses in universities, and a minimum grade H5 in Irish is required for primary teaching, which will become a H4 next year.
With well over 1,000 courses on the CAO, it is impossible to go into all areas. Do your research. Check each college prospectus and make sure you have covered the course requirements for what you want to study after the Leaving Cert. Last year, the NUI approved the removal of the third language requirement for Maynooth University’s business, accounting, finance, and law degree programmes. The institutes of technology generally expect students to have grade O6/H7 in English and maths — not choosing a language should have no impact on a candidate’s ability to get place in one of the IoT programmes.
What happens if I do not take higher level Irish?
The main consequence is that you will be blocked from studying to be a primary school teacher in any of the education training colleges in Ireland. Trinity College Dublin accepts Irish as a second language requirement. UL, DCU, and the institutes of technology do not require a continental language for entry purposes to most of their courses, apart from those which involve the study of such a language.
If I do not know what I want to study at third level yet, what subjects should I choose?
It is advisable to take a good mixture of subjects, a language and a science subject will keep your options open. Talk to your subject teachers about changes to the senior cycle curriculum. There is a lot of talk about science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM ). There is also a sizeable dropout rate in these areas. Not all students are interested in STEM and the same points are given for music, art, and business.