This is an incredibly stressful time for parents of Leaving Cert students. You have to help your son or daughter get through their exams successfully and immediately after that, you have to make sure that they are going to get into a course that is right for them. According to the Higher Education Authority, 16% of all first-year students quit their courses and the dropout rate is much higher in science and technology courses.
Although there are many sensational media stories about billionaire dropouts such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs: college dropouts are much more likely than graduates to be poor, unemployed and in debt. Helping your son or daughter pick a suitable course is one of the most important tasks you will ever have as a parent. We have listed four steps below that will help your child to pick the right course.
1. Work with them and encourage them to assess their abilities, interests and personality traits
When people study or work in areas that are suitable for their unique mix of abilities, interests and personality traits, they are much more likely to experience success and satisfaction. The task of getting your son or daughter to assess their abilities, interests and personality sounds simple but there are a number of challenges that you will face:
- Your son or daughter has too many interests but none stand out.
- Your son or daughter has too many abilities and skills but none stand out.
- They think that none of their abilities or skills are worthwhile.
- They can’t come up with a course or career that combines their ability, interests, values and personality traits.
However, if you can help them to narrow down their interests, abilities, skills, values and personality traits, your son or daughter will be well on their way to picking a suitable course and future career.
2. Help them figure out what careers or courses they might enjoy
Although there are many roles that are open to graduates of any field, the two biggest factors that employers look for when hiring graduates are:
- Do they have relevant internships/work experience?
- Is their degree related to the role that we are hiring?
If your son or daughter completes a course in an area related to what they want to work in, they will have a significant advantage over their peers. To start this process, you can look at the results that your son or daughter got in different career assessments in school such as the DATS, Career Fit or the Career Interest Inventory to name a few. Once your son or daughter is more confident about what types of careers that they would enjoy, they can start to evaluate which courses are the most suitable route into those careers.
3. Help them figure out what careers or courses they might enjoy
For the majority of Leaving Cert Students, there will be a wide range of colleges offering courses in their desired area. However, the content of these courses can vary quite significantly between different colleges. The prospectus, brochures and webpages about these courses will have significant information about the contents and outcomes and this can help your son or daughter find the courses that best meets their requirements.
4. Review and Amend CAO Choices Based on Findings from Steps 1, 2 and 3
As a result of the research that has been done at steps 1, 2 or 3, your son or daughter will have a good idea about what courses and careers would be most suitable for them. From here, they will be in a good position to fill out their CAO. Your son or daughter will have the option of choosing 10 Level-8 Honours degree courses and 10 Level-6 and 7 choices (higher certificate courses or ordinary degree courses). Even if they expect to get a lot of points, filling in all 20 options is a good idea in case things don’t go to plan. Also, many colleges offering Level 7 courses also have the option to continue their studies for an added year and graduate with a Level 8 degree.
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