You’re making progress through secondary school, but there’s so much to consider – so much information coming your way, so many options, probably some misgivings and always the sense that the decision you’re about to make is a huge one. It’s vital, therefore, to break it down into manageable bites, writes Sean Larkin, Guidance Counsellor, Sli Nua Careers.
Here are five tips that will help you order your thoughts so that you’re not overwhelmed at this important time.
- Begin with the end in mind. Have you looked at what careers or job opportunities your course offers down the line? Don’t just look at courses; look at career possibilities they will open up for you. Would you like that kind of work? Do the people in this sector interest you? If you had to turn up to do this work next Monday morning, and every Monday morning for the next ten years, would you be excited? Be honest with yourself here.
- Do your homework on the courses you’re considering. What subjects are involved? For example, a common cause for dropouts in third-level education is the fact that students who don’t like, or aren’t strong at, Maths, end up studying Maths almost without realising it was included in their course. Are the subjects on the course ones that you will enjoy studying and will you flourish at them?
- Does the career or course suit your aptitude, interest and personality? All three areas should be considered. And remember just because a friend or sibling did not like a subject or course does not mean you won’t like it either. Every human being is unique. Horses for courses. Think long and hard about whether or not you are a good match for this course / career. Ask trusted friends or family members to give their viewpoints. Remember, you will be the one pursuing this course – it has suit to suit you, not somebody else.
- The points race can be all-consuming, and, for some students and their families, very off-putting. Are there back routes into your course of interest? Have you a plan A, B or C? A circuitous route takes longer but I’ve seen students get to their preferred destination in this way. In fact, it is a great moment for all involved – the student, family, friends and other mentors such as teachers or guidance counsellors – when someone gets to the finishing line via a circuitous route. People recognise the persistence and determination they have shown to get there. If you’re unsure about which route to follow, some fantastic Post Leaving Certificate courses offer an opportunity to up skill and also to research your options in greater detail. Plus, you’ll be a year older and more mature when the time comes to start the course of your choice.
- Still don’t know which way to turn? Breathe and don’t panic! Websites like Careers Portal and Qualifax offer free online career and personality tests. Work experience and summer schools give a great indication on whether you would like a particular career or not. The world doesn’t end the day you do your Leaving Cert: don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself and it should all work out well in the end. Step by step.
Sean Larkin is a Guidance Counsellor with Sli Nua Careers. He works one-to-one with students to explore all aspects of key decisions – career domains that suit their personality types, skills and strengths; suitable courses in those domains; and making subject and other choices that make sense for them. Make a booking HERE