Francis O' Toole Author – Careers Ireland

Students' embarking on their career journey – Is Féidir linn

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Archive for January 9th, 2018

Time to start preparing for life after the Leaving Cert

Posted by Francis O' Toole on January 9, 2018

Don’t be overwhelmed by the challenge of choosing what to do after you leave school

Consider the evidence - decide what criteria you should factor into your decision. Photograph: iStockphoto.

 

Life is a journey of exploration and discovery. Any adult reflecting on their own career journey since leaving school realises that expecting a young person to have decided on their occupation for life in sixth year is completely unrealistic.

Nobody, including myself at 63, knows what the next three to five years will bring. Both you as an 18-year-old and I at 63 go through the same process to determine our future career path. We both look at our life experiences, our interests and aptitudes, likes and dislikes, opportunities, what our financial and personal circumstances offer us.

The only difference between us is I have more clues buried in my life journey than you have. You will probably engage in this reflection and decision-making process at least 15-20 times between now and when you are physically incapable of meaningful career activity – which may be 70 years away, in your case.

Career choices will recur many times over your lifetime. The options at the end of second-level education are the first significant career choices you will make, but they are not life-determining.

Therefore, don’t get anxious or distressed by this decision-making process now, as you’ll face it again throughout your life. The decision about next September will simply determine what you will commit to for next year, or, with college choices, three to four years. It is perfectly normal to tell your guidance counsellor you have no idea now what to do after the Leaving Cert.

The clues to your future are buried in your past

 

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College abroad: learning to deal with the culture shock

Posted by Francis O' Toole on January 9, 2018

 

For Irish students studying abroad, heavier workloads, less spoonfeeding and more independent learning can be a jolt to the system, but also a rewarding experience

Rising numbers of Irish school-leavers are opting to study abroad in countries such as France, the Netherlands and Denmark. Photograph: iStock

The fees are cheaper. College accommodation is easier to get. Entry requirements are less demanding. Their universities rank higher than in Ireland.

It’s little wonder, then, that so many Irish school-leavers are opting to study abroad.

While achieving a degree from a European university is undoubtedly a great opportunity in fostering confidence and independence, many students are in for a shock.

Workloads are typically much heavier. There’s little or no spoonfeeding of lecture notes to students. There is no culture of teaching to the test. Instead, students are required to become independent learners and solve problems for themselves.

Coming from a Leaving Cert system dominated by “teaching to the test” and rote-learning, this can come as big jolt for many Irish school-leavers.

Guy Flouch of Eunicas, a Clare-based company which facilitates the transition to European universities, says while Irish students benefit from a high standard of teaching, the learning challenge can be daunting.

“The culture of independent learning or problem-based learning can be a bit of a shock to Irish students and takes a few weeks to get used to,” he says. “As can adjusting to a new culture and lifestyle and indeed a heavier workload. Some will miss the ‘craic’ as friends who stayed at home appear – through social media – to be having a great time.

“But this will become less important as time goes by and they forge ahead and start to enjoy new ways of living and thinking.”

More than 2,200 Irish students are currently studying in colleges across Europe.

Tom Finn from Co Kildare, a second-year international business student at Maastricht University, found it difficult to adjust to college life in the Netherlands during his first few months abroad
Tom Finn from Co Kildare, a second-year international business student at Maastricht University, found it difficult to adjust to college life in the Netherlands during his first few months abroad

Tom Finn from Sallins, Co Kildare, a second-year international business student at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, is one of them. He agrees that the first few months can be very difficult.

“I didn’t really know what to expect before heading to Maastricht,” he says. “I certainly didn’t think I would be so responsible for my own learning as students here run the tutorials themselves with presentations, reports and debates, while a tutor supervises, to ensure we stay on topic.

‘Independence’

“This is a big change from secondary school, but it does give greater independence and responsibility to us, the students, which I have come to appreciate.“Also, the workload was much bigger than I was expecting and it took some getting used to. And living away from home was tough. I still miss my family and the home cooking from time to time and I’d love to be able to bring my washing home on the weekends too. But it does get much easier after a while.”

The 19-year-old says the best way to settle into college life abroad is to make a big effort to socialise.

“Starting university is a very different experience, especially when it’s in a foreign country where most things are unfamiliar,” he says.

“I’d recommend getting out and meeting people as the first semester can be lonely if it’s your first time living away from home, so socialising and making new friends definitely helps to overcome this.

“Joining a sports team, club or association is a really easy way to meet people and helps to settle in quicker.

“Overall, studying abroad is a completely different experience and an opportunity to try something new, and I am actually really glad that I did it.”

Molly Fitzmaurice from Wexford, who graduated recently from Amsterdam University College with a liberal arts and science degree. She felt homesick initially but went on to make good friends
Molly Fitzmaurice from Wexford, who graduated recently from Amsterdam University College with a liberal arts and science degree. She felt homesick initially but went on to make good friends

Molly Fitzmaurice had a similar experience. Just graduated from Amsterdam University College with a Liberal Arts and Science degree, the 21-year-old experienced a lot of loneliness when she first arrived in the Dutch college.

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Careers News

Posted by Francis O' Toole on January 9, 2018

 

 

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