www.qualifax.ie, the national learning database, share a good synopsis on addressing this question, that we share with you below…

 

Selecting the best possible course is a key decision to make and often a challenging one. The stress on Leaving Certificate students is compounded by intense pressure to choose the ‘right’ CAO course before they even step onto a university / IT campus.

For a few people, choosing a course is simple: they have always wanted to be a brain surgeon or a dentist or an engineer. Others tend to choose their third-level options on the basis of the number of points they expect to achieve in the Leaving Certificate, rather than on their particular aptitudes and interests. The result is that a considerable number of students discover that they have started on courses that may be unsuitable to them. For most, however, there is simply a bewildering variety of courses, many of which involve subjects that are not taught in school. So how should you go about choosing a course?

  1. Consider your interests, skills, values and personality

This requires the individual to develop a certain degree of self-awareness. This entails asking yourself: What kind of person am I? This process of self-assessment consists of using several instruments in order to uncover your interests, personality type, work-related values, and skills. It is looking at these things in combination that can help you figure out what courses will be good matches for you and you could learn something that will surprise you. The greater the overlap between an individual’s interests, aptitudes, and personal characteristics and those required by the area of study, the greater the degree of satisfaction when engaged in that area of study. This process will help you decide which course best fits you. If you find the right course at the right college you will be inspired to succeed.

  1. Research the courses and the colleges

Make a list of courses to explore and then research each course. The Internet (websites such as Qualifax and Careers Portal are excellent online resources), college prospectuses, family and friends are your best sources of information and support. Someone who is already studying the course can give you great insight from a student’s perspective. It is important to attend college open days or other career events and make every effort to speak to lecturers, tutors or admissions staff in the colleges you are interested in, as they will facilitate your decision-making. Some 30% of third level students drop out or change course, so something is going wrong with students initial decisions. A lot of heartache can be avoided if you take the time to look at the college websites to find out not just which subjects you will be studying on your course, but also to find out the content of the individual modules of each subject. In this way, you will know exactly what lies ahead of you. Discovering that you have made the wrong choice can be upsetting and expensive.  If you decide to change course and repeat 1st year in college you will pay the full cost for that repeat year – a total of approximately 8,000 euros.

Consider options outside the CAO, such as the further education sector. Many students who do not secure the points they want for a course through the CAO, do very well in a Post-Leaving Certificate course in the discipline they want to study and then go on to secure a place in their preferred CAO course the following year.

 

Explore options in the UK and Northern Ireland at www.ucas.com and in mainland Europe at www.eunicas.ie

 

  • Identify the courses in which you are most interested and some alternatives on which to fall back if you do not get the points for your first choice
  • Give serious thought to how you will prepare to enter your chosen course: for example do you have the right subjects? There are certain subjects that are essential for entry to particular courses and colleges and it is important that you are aware of these. Check online at www.qualifax.ie
  • Make sure you meet the minimum entry requirements, for example do you require higher level Maths or Irish for your course?
  • Check out the duration of the course and additional costs such as accommodation, books and travel
  • Other factors which may need to be taken into consideration include family responsibilities, financial difficulties and disabilities that may interfere with pursuing your goals.

 

  1. Match what you have come to know about yourself (self-assessment) to a course

 

During this phase of the career planning process you will decide which course is the best fit for you based on what you now know about yourself and the courses you have researched. This will entail looking at the jigsaw pieces of your life to date and putting them together. Considering your interests, hobbies, skills, aptitudes and achievements, both academic and personal, and identifying certain personality traits combined with appropriate course exploration will hold the key to a successful course choice.

 

Source: www.qualifax.ie

From using flashcards to cramming with purpose, the 2018 University Challenge Champions share their study tips in this short blog.

This year’s final saw St John’s College, Cambridge win the series trophy after impressing Jeremy Paxman with its knowledge of organic chemistry, Anselm of Canterbury and bird poets. But this isn’t merely a team of endearing nerds. Students sitting exams have much to learn from the work ethic of the St John’s squad. Rosie McKeown, Matt Hazell, John-Clark Levin and James Devine-Stoneman were asked for their revision tips.

Go in with a strategy

The team first prepared for the show by scouring YouTube videos of old episodes to find common topics – and the same approach works with past exam papers, says McKeown. They’ll help you ‘suss’ your weaknesses and the course structure. More so than learning the content of the course, it’s about working out what you need to know and then using your time as efficiently as possible. People approach revision as something separate from the work you’ve been doing all year, which is a mistake. If you look at it as part of the process, then it’s less daunting.”

Repeat to perfection 

Don’t get too complacent about the topics you think you know well, team captain Devine-Stoneman advises. “I try to cover a topic at multiple points in the run-up to the exam. A month or two beforehand, I run through my notes again and again in the days leading up to it. If you don’t have much time, make sure the things you do know, you can ace. It’s usually better to go in with a selection of things you can do very well than a half-hearted knowledge of a range of things.” That way, Hazell adds, you can always try to steer an awkward question back to something you know.

Use flashcards

The team is big on flashcards. Devine-Stoneman uses an app when he gets a free moment in the lab as a PhD student in materials science. McKeown also uses them for both her languages degree and quizzing. “I’ll focus on flashcards in the last steps before the exam,” she says. “I tend to use different colours. Nice stationery is a motivation for me.”

Take breaks with rewards

The team agrees it’s important to have a rewards system in place when studying. McKeown says she always has a puzzle book or novel on the go. “Organise yourself so you don’t have to revise all through the night. It’s good to relax in the evening. There comes a point when you stop absorbing information.”

Cram with purpose

“I’m big on last-minute cramming,” says Hazell. “I’m quite aggressive in setting goals. If there are three days before an exam, with 24 lectures to revise, set daily targets so you can feel like you’re making progress and you’ll have covered everything.” And if you run out of time, “know when to cut your losses”, he says. “If there’s a small area of the syllabus that’s going to take a huge amount of time to revise, I ditch it.” At this point, “it’s about making sure you know what you know in more detail”.

Source: theguardian.com

GoConqr write an interesting piece about study and study skills that I’d like to share with you. Source @ end of blog. They talk about 12 areas that I hope will benefit you as you commence study proper, whether you are in Secondary or Third Level Education.

  1. Set Study Goals
  2. Make a Study Plan
  3. Take Regular Study Breaks
  4. Embrace New Technologies
  5. Test Yourself
  6. Find a Healthy Balance
  7. Be Positive
  8. Collaborate with Study Partners
  9. Turn lessons into stories
  10. Establish a Study Routine
  11. Mark Small Challenges
  12. Consult teachers

Set Study Goals

There is lots of credible research suggesting that goal setting can be used as part of a strategy to help people successfully effect positive changes in their lives, so never underestimate the power of identifying to yourself the things you want to achieve. Just make sure to ask yourself some key questions: Am I setting realistic goals? Will I need to work harder to achieve those goals? If you’re happy with the goals you’ve set then you should aim to develop your study plan for the year ahead with your goals in mind.

Make a Study Plan

Time is precious. Nobody is more aware of this than the poor student who hasn’t studied a thing until the night before an exam. By then, of course, it’s too late. The key to breaking the cycle of cramming for tests is to think ahead and make a study plan. Not only will this help you get organised and make the most of your time, it’ll also put your mind at ease and eliminate that nasty feeling you get when you walk into an exam knowing that you’re not at all prepared.

Take Regular Study Breaks

It’s important to realize that you can’t maintain an optimum level of concentration without giving yourself some time to recover from the work you’ve put in. This can take the form of a ten-minute walk, a trip to the gym, having a chat with a friend or simply fixing yourself a hot drink. If it feels like procrastination, then rest assured that it’s not: taking regular short breaks not only help improve your focus, they can boost your productivity too.

Embrace New Technologies

Studying no longer means jotting things down with a pen on a scrap of paper. The old handwritten method still has its place of course, it’s just that now there are more options for personalising study that ever before. Whether it’s through online tools, social media, blogs, videos or mobile apps, learning has become more fluid and user-centred.

Test Yourself

It’s a strange thing, but sometimes simply entering an exam environment is enough to make you forget some of the things you’ve learned. The solution is to mentally prepare for the pressure of having to remember key dates, facts, names, formulas and so on. Testing yourself with regular quizzes is a great way of doing this. And don’t worry of you don’t perform brilliantly at first – the more you practice, the better you’ll become.

Find a Healthy Balance

Take this opportunity to evaluate yourself both physically and mentally. Is your engine running on low? Instead of  complaining “I never get enough sleep” or “I’m eating too much convenience food” take control and do something about it! Make the change and see how it positively affects your attitude and study routine. This should motivate you to maintain a healthy balance in the future.

Be Positive

Your attitude has a big impact on the level of study that you get done and the effectiveness of your learning process. If you keep saying that you can’t do it and won’t commit to the idea of learning, attempting to study is only likely to become more difficult. Instead, focus your mind on positive outcomes and on how you can use your own individual strengths to achieve them. When you think positively, the reward centers in your brain show greater activity, thereby making you feel less anxious and more open to new study tips.

Collaborate with Study Partners

At this stage of the school year, you should know your classmates pretty well. This is a good point in time to select a couple of study partners who you know you work well with and are motivated to achieve good grades also. Don’t worry if you can’t meet up too often, you can use online tools to communicate and share study notes with one another.

Turn lessons into stories

Everybody likes to read or listen to a good story, and with good reason – not only do stories entertain us, but they also help us to understand and memorize key details too. You can apply this to your studies by weaving important details or facts into a story – the more outlandish and ridiculous you can make it, the better.

Establish a Study Routine

Your study routine is comprised of more than planning what to learn and when. One of the main concerns is your study environment. Find a place to study that is quiet and with few distractions. Alternatively, you could also try switching it up by sitting in a different place in your school library every day and seeing how this works for you.

Mark Small Challenges

When you have to face very long and dense subjects, you can set small challenges to keep your spirits high; a good way to focus on the day-to-day and find motivations while you study. According to scientific analysis, the more motivated and excited we are, the better our brain performs.

Consult teachers

Any questions you have about the exam, the best you can do is go to the Teacher / Lecturer of the subject and expose your doubts. Not only is the person best suited to solve your questions, but your initiative will be well received and you’ll show good attitude by demonstrating that you’re interested in his subject.

There really aren’t any hard and fast rules to play by when it comes to the best times for studying or how long you should work for.

Everybody is different, so the best way to establish a routine is to try different things and see what works best for you, then modify your routine for maximum learning effectiveness.

Source: goconqr.com

Whether you have had to sit major state examinations or third level examinations, the 1st June or the 1st July mark the official start of the summer holiday period for most if not all students. Two – three months i.e. eight to twelve weeks are available to you to source employment, get ‘world of work experience’ and I guess more importantly, make some pocket money for those summer weekends or for school / college next term. With Ireland experiencing its lowest employment rate for many years, sourcing employment shouldn’t be overly difficult. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Consider the following ideas:

• Who do you, your family members, relations and / or friends know in business that have direct or indirect business contacts to decisionmakers
• Do an EYK List i.re. Everyone You Know List
• Take a walk / drive around your area of residence, your town and / or nearest city, who are the major (indeed minor employers), what do they do, where do the need help, could you help them, do they employ young people like you
• Read your local newspaper’s business pages to see who’s recruiting
• Develop a CV that sells you to prospective employers, tailoring it accordingly around their business and how you can help them, outlining your relevant talents, skills and abilities

Working during your summer holidays and between school / college breaks has so many benefits that you may not see or realize now, but in the medium to long term, you will.

Some of these benefits include:

• Enhancing your time management skills
• Reporting to a manager or supervisor on what you are doing / have done
• Developing people skills
• Developing customer care and customer service skills
• Handling cash and financial transactions
• Work experience for your CV’s of the future
• Experiencing making and saving your own money
• Making new friends

So, don’t waste this summer, get out there and get a job…