Francis O' Toole Author – Careers Ireland

Students' embarking on their career journey – Is Féidir linn

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Subject Choice

Posted by Francis O' Toole on January 26, 2018


“I often ask people what they want to do, and I find it interesting that they reply: ‘I’ll tell you what I don’t want to do’,” says Ronan Kennedy, an independent careers coach based in Dublin. “If they say they don’t want to work with computers or numbers, I might reframe it by asking: does that mean you want to work with people. If they can find what it is about a job that they don’t like, it may bring them closer to what they do. People will often want to do courses based on what their interests are and what they are good at – and, often, their interests and likes are interchangeable.”

Deciding what you don’t want to do can spur the process of elimination and this is useful, says Bernadette Walsh, Guidance Counsellor with and  These websites provide profiles of 33 prominent industry sectors with viewpoints from various sector experts, with the aim of helping students to pick further or higher education courses as well as apprenticeships.

“We always encourage students to start broad and not to overlook the level six and seven options on the CAO form. These are valuable in their own right but also have links into many of the level eight programmes.”

Students who struggle with maths may also struggle with the content of some courses, including engineering and physics. “They do require some aptitude, so students who are not comfortable with maths should do their research and see how much is involved,” Walsh advises. “That said, there will always be a module that the student may not fully enjoy but they will get through it. Each year there will be a number of different modules, overall the student should like at least 80 per cent of them. highlights the 10 tasks associated with every job we profile; if, for instance, you don’t like four of thesetasks, is it the job for you?”

Source: Irish Times Article December 2017: click here

The importance of Subject Choice

Choosing which subjects to study occurs in both Junior Cycle and Senior Cycle. The choices made should reflect the interests and ability of the students, and take consideration of the possible career aspirations he/she may have.

In general, the Irish education system is not geared towards specific occupations or career pathways (the exception being the Leaving Cert Applied) – its aims are to provide a more fuller, rounded education. Therefore, for the most part, students can choose anything from the curriculum in order to gain a respectable and internationally recognised qualification.

The following are some general tips and factors to consider when choosing subjects:
  • Ability & Aptitudes: All students have different strengths so consider their abilities in different subjects and choose subjects in which the student is likely to get good grades.
  • Interest: Choosing subjects in which the student has a genuine interest in means they are much more likely to study them and do well.
  • Career: There are some subjects that are essential for some college courses and careers. It is important to check out these subject or entry requirements with a Guidance Counsellor or the course provider.



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