The Definitive Guide to Going to College 2014

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Grants & funding


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2014 Leaving Cert Timetable

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The CAO and application form

S T N E T CON 5 Introduction 6 The CAO and application form 8 NFQ and QQI 10 Choosing a course of study 12 The points system 13 Study and revision tips 20 Private colleges 21 Pilot Training 23 Post leaving cert courses and 24 Apprenticeships traineeships 27 Repeating the leaving certificate 28 Royal College of Surgeons 29 Leaving Cert. Answers App 30 The gap year 32 Living away from home 33 A-Z of college essentials 36 Accommodation tips 43 Grants and funding

49 Student budgeting tips 50 Campus cost comparison 52 Clubs and societies 53 Freshers’ week social aspects 54 The of college life 56 Student welfare 57 Health issues 61 The college library 63 Studying abroad 83 Mature students

The Points System Your sub j

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48 The Definitive Guide to Going to College


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

The final year of school is one of the most difficult times in a young person’s life. As well as the pressure to study, there is the added stress of deciding which career path to take, and where in the country to start that path. The Definitive Guide to Going to College can help.


his Guide is an informative and detailed publication relevant to all secondary level students who are deciding on their future, as well as being an invaluable resource to new third level students. The CAO process is explained in full, as is the QQI, the new amalgamation of several state bodies. We also provide many different study methods and tips.

hard-hitting facts in a humorous light. After all, despite all the pressure and stress, this is also one of the most exciting times of your life. We’re here to help you to make the most of it!!

The cost of attending third level has risen dramatically over the past five years. As a result of these increasing costs, we have included full details on eligibility for grants and a cost comparison of commonly purchased items in various campuses throughout the country. However, it’s not all doom and gloom! We present

Follow us on FaceBook and Twitter@collegeguide_ Disclaimer: Whilst every care has been taken to secure names, addresses and particulars of entries, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions. All information is accepted as correct at time of going to press. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying and recording, without the written permission of the copyright holder, application for which should be addressed to the publisher. Such written permission should also be obtained before any part of this publication is stored in a retrieval system of any nature.



Undergraduate Degree Programmes

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St Patrick’s College Maynooth

• BA in Theology & Arts (BATh) CAO code: MU001 The BA in Theology & Arts is a three-year, level 8, honours degree programme comprising Theology and Arts subjects. The Theology modules are taught in the Faculty of Theology in the Pontifical University, while the Arts subjects are taught in the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM). Both universities share the same campus and facilities • BA in Theology (BTh) CAO code: MU002 The BA in Theology is a three-year, level 8, honours degree programme aimed at students who wish to study Theology in depth. Students study First Arts Philosophy in NUIM as part of this degree.

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The above programmes qualify under the Free Fees initiative and the Higher Education Grants Scheme. Mature students are very welcome to apply. The Pontifical University also offers a number of full-time Postgraduate Degree programmes in Theology, as well as one part-time evening programme in Theology. OPEN DAYS: Friday 29th and Saturday 30th November 2013 (same dates and venue as NUI Maynooth) Further information on courses may be obtained from: The Admissions Office, Pontifical University, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, or from our website.

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At the heart of the community

The CAO and application form The CAO (Central Applications Office) is an organisation which was founded in 1976 by the higher education institutions (HEIs) in the Republic of Ireland.


he HEIs have delegated to the CAO the task of processing centrally applications for admission to their first year undergraduate courses. The purpose of the CAO, therefore, is to process applications centrally and to deal with them in an efficient and fair manner. The HEIs retain the function of making decisions on admissions.

General principles Applications for admission in autumn 2014 will be processed in accordance with the regulations, procedures and timetable described in the CAO Handbook 2014 (‘the Handbook’), in the CAO Application Form 2014 (‘the Form’) and in the other documents mentioned in the Handbook.

It is your responsibility to acquaint yourself with these. Other such regulations and procedures in relation to online application, change of mind and acceptance of offers will appear on the CAO web site. The intention is to provide fair and equal treatment for all applicants and to minimise expense for the applicant-body as a whole. The CAO is the agent for the HEIs participating in the Application System. These bodies agree annually the application regulations, procedures and timetable. The CAO has no discretion to set them aside so as either to afford special treatment to any applicant over another or to deprive any applicant of their entitlement in favour of another. The CAO is purely an administrative facility and does not endorse or recommend any course. It is your responsibility to determine the status and the suitability of any course chosen.

Applicant’s responsibility It is the applicant’s own responsibility to ensure that the application is submitted accurately

The Definitive Guide to Going to College

and on time. In any one year, you may not present more than one application (either online or paper).

Application dates and fees Applicants should avoid submitting an application close to the closing date. The closing date cannot be extended.

The CAO form The CAO form in most cases is very straightforward but it is worthwhile giving it focus and attention. There are four pages on the print CAO form and over 30 different spaces to be filled in. Irish schoolleavers only need to complete Part A (pages 1 and 2). Part B (pages 3 and 4) is for those applying with examinations other than FETAC and Leaving Certificate and for mature students presenting with other further education qualifications. The form can also be accessed online. Normal closing date is February 1st but if you apply online before January 20th the cost is €25. After 1st February this will be higher.

All fees are non-refundable.



Normal application (online or paper)


1 February 2014 (17:15)

Online discounted rate


20 January 2014 (17:15)

Late online application


1 May 2014 (17:15)

Late paper application


1 May 2014 (17:15)

Change of mind


1 July 2014 (17:15)

“ It’sthe applicant’s own responsibility to ensure that the application is submitted accurately and on time” The form is standard enough in that you will need to give all your personal details as you do when filling out other application forms. The most important part of the form is the Course Choices section. When choosing your course, the CAO choice system is split into two categories: a Level 6 and level 7 list, where you put your higher certificate and ordinary degree choices, and a Level 8 list, where you put your honours degree options. Each category has 10 spaces for course choices and it is recommended you fill in all 10 spaces on each list. The only information you need is the course code, you don’t need to name the course or the college that is running it. Each third-level course has its own code number which is made up of two letters and three numbers. You can find this code in the back of this guide, in the course listings section of the CAO guide, and in each individual college prospectus and website. Please ensure when you are listing your courses that you put your first choice as the first listing and then put your next preferences down the list in order. The reason there are 10 spaces is that you can afford to aim high, with plenty of space to list other alternative courses, should you not get the required points for your first choice. For most people, this is the end of the form filling. The other two pages (Part B) are for Special Category Applicants. This part is for students taking GCSEs in the UK, mature students and people presenting with other

school leaving exams other than the Leaving Certificate or FETAC. If none of these categories apply to you, write NO in the box at the bottom of Page 2 or click the ‘none of the above’ box on the online form. Special Category Applicants are strongly advised to submit their application by the 15th of December 2013. It is always a good idea to have somebody else check the form, just in case you have missed something. If you apply online, make sure you follow all the directions to the end of the process. You are not finished until you print or save the screen receipt of acceptance of your online application. We would recommend that you keep a copy of your form whether it was sent online or by post. Swift post or registering your post is usually a good option because you have a tracking number should there be any problems. A certificate of postage will be needed in case your application should get lost in the post. Online applicants should keep their printed receipt of acceptance safe. Paper applicants should enclose their stamped-addressed Acknowledgement Card with their initial application and then keep it safe when it’s returned. Remember that you can apply and get a CAO number at any time. With just your name, address and contact number you can apply early and get a CAO number. You can then have the time to pull together your examination results and other relevant information and amend your application later.

Payment Paper applications can be made using the Application Fee Payment Form. The bank will retain Part 3 and will stamp Parts 1 and 2 and return them to you. You keep Part 2 for your own records and send Part 1 with your CAO application. If you are applying online, you can opt to pay by credit card (Visa or MasterCard) or debit card (Laser), or use the Application Fee Payment Form and pay in the bank. When paying online, you are given a Payment Confirmation Code. You need to keep this number, because you must enter it in the appropriate box of the Online Application. The CAO handbook is available online and is a useful tool when filling out your CAO form.

Address: The CAO Application System operates from the CAO premises at: Tower House, Eglinton Street, Galway. Phone: (091) 509800 Fax: (091) 562344 The CAO website is at Application may be made online at this site. Hours of business: 09:30 to 13:00 and 14:00 to 17:15 Monday through Friday.

The Definitive Guide to Going to College

Q F N D N A I Q Q Questions and answers about where your awards fit into the new system of Quality and Qualifications Ireland...


My daughter is filling out her CAO Handbook for third level options this year and there is a reference to ‘Levels’. What do they mean and how do they relate to my daughter’s application?


Since 2004, references to ‘Levels’ have featured in the CAO Handbook. These refer to the 10 Levels of Qualification set out by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). The Irish qualifications system was restructured in 2003 and is now described in terms of awards at 10 levels in the National Framework of Qualifications, also referred to as NFQ, for which the QQI is responsible. The 10 Levels of the NFQ incorporate awards

The Definitive Guide to Going to College

made for all kinds of learning, from basic literacy to doctorate level. School, further education and training and higher education and training (i.e. DIT, Institutes of Technology and the universities) are all included. For instance, the Leaving Certificate is at Level 4 and 5, apprenticeships qualifications are at Level 6, an Ordinary Bachelor Degree is at Level 7 and an Honours Bachelor Degree is at Level 8. The level a qualification is at on the NFQ indicates the standard of knowledge, skill and competence a learner is expected to have on completion of a programme. The higher education qualifications in

QQI is also responsible for the continued development and implementation of the NFQ. It will establish a Code of Practice and International Education Mark for the provision of education to international learners. QQI was established on November 6th, 2012 under the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act of 2012. More information as QQI publishes it is available on the website: http://

Holders of NFQ ons qualificati road ab travelling their can have ons i qualificat ly more easi d understoo the NFQ are from Levels 6 to 10 and can be seen below. As the Handbook only deals with higher education qualifications up to Honours Bachelor Degree Level, it refers to Levels 6, 7 and 8 only.


What are the benefits of the NFQ and QQI to learners?

You can have confidence in the quality of the qualification you are applying for, as a primary function of QQI is to ensure all NFQ qualifications are quality assured and recognised both nationally and internationally. You can make informed choices about the qualifications you choose and plan your education and training path. The NFQ acts as a tool for employers, so they can recognise and understand the level and standard of your qualifications. It is expected that graduates will increasingly find employers referring to Levels when recruiting.

It is important that the qualification you get is portable and recognisable both at home and abroad. The NFQ and QQI are linked to similar developments taking place in other countries, and this means that holders of NFQ qualifications travelling abroad can have their qualifications more easily understood. It also helps the recognition of qualifications held by those travelling to Ireland with qualifications gained outside the State.


How can I find out more about QQI?

For more detailed information about QQI and the NFQ and its implications for you continuing your education after second level, it is recommended to visit the new QQI website at


What is QQI, and what happened to FETAC, HETAC, NQAI and IQUB?


QQI stands for Quality and Qualifications Ireland and is an amalgamation of the four legacy bodies: FETAC, HETAC, NQAI and IQUB. QQI has inherited the functions of all four and is responsible for carrying out a comprehensive range of quality assurance services across education and training.

The Definitive Guide to Going to College

Choosing a y d u t s f o course Given the dramatic economic events of recent years, it is all too easy to listen to the doom-mongers. However, it is hoped and according to some sources, expected, that the economy will be well on the road to recovery by the time 2014 school leavers graduate.


n current times in particular, there is pressure from all sides to pick a course that will guarantee a lucrative career. Economists and journalists have been trying to predict where the jobs will be in two, three and four year’s time. Several periodicals are predicting growth in the following areas: IT services: Gaming, datamining, smart phones and apps continue to grow and develop at a remarkable rate.

Computer software & hardware: New developments in hardware (the iPad, book reader, sensor-controlled Xbox) and software continue to evolve and hold consumer interest. Accounting and auditing and financial services: Some predict that Ireland will be providing centralised accountancy and administration services for multinationals, having become a services-based economy by 2020. High tech manufacturing (pharmaceutical): We already have several software and

pharmaceutical multinationals with large bases here thanks to the beneficial corporate tax policies, which thankfully were left unchanged by recent budgets, despite strong opposition from other countries in the EU. Green sector jobs: Climate change could be the driver for the creation of massive numbers of jobs here in Ireland in areas such as wind farm design and development, the harnessing of wave energy, development of electric carcharging stations etc. The best advice to take from all predictions is to be aware of the current and ongoing situation, but don’t make choices based on it.

Mar y Sweeney, Admissions Office, NUI Galway provides some thoughts and tips on preparing for the CAO.

The thoughts of filling out the CAO form and choosing from the huge selection of courses available across thir d-level institutions can be daunting. A good approach is to follow your own personal interests so you can spend the next few years studying a sub ject that will keep you engage d and interested. The Arts degrees from NUI Galwa y, for example, allow you to follow an interest you might have in Children’s Stu dies, Creative Writing, Film Studies, Human Rights, Irish Studies, Theatre and Per formance or Women’s Studie s. Remember that the degree is not the end in itself nor does it ‘typecast’ you when you graduate. Many degree s provide a ver y solid founda tion from which ver y different careers can be pur sued. For example a good degree in the Arts, Sciences or Business provides an exc ellent preparation for teachi ng, journalism, business, public and private ser vices, management etc.


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

here are

TEN top tips To help you make your selection for the CAO form


Consider where your interests lie. Ask yourself; what are the Leaving Certificate subjects and activities I most enjoy?


Consult with parents and friends; seek out advice and information from your Guidance Counsellors.


Talk to students already at third level and if you can, participate in Open Days and Career Exhibitions.


Check out the various college websites for detailed information on courses and review the prospectus. If it’s something that would interest you, find out if there is the opportunity of work experience or studying abroad.


List the courses in your order of preference, based on those which interest you and in which you have a realistic chance of getting an offer based on your expected results.


Think through your options and have your mind made up at least one week before the CAO deadline (1st February). This will give you time, having made your decision, to see how that feels. The order of your preferences should really reflect the order of what you want.


Remember – don’t panic – there is still a change of mind option until the 1st July.


If you are considering taking a year out, apply this year and if you get the offer you want, you are free to apply to be considered for deferred entry to a following year. Remember that entry points to the various programmes change from year to year depending on the demand for and supply of places.


Create a shortlist of your top ten courses with a quick note on why you want to do each course in each institution.


Check the minimum entry requirements for your preferred CAO courses.

This article first appeared in the Sunday Independent

The Definitive Guide to Going to College 11

The points

system How are my points calculated? Your best six subjects from one sitting are used to calculate your total points, no matter now many subjects you study. Must I count the results of my required subject(s) when calculating my total points? No. When calculating your points, only your best six subjects are used. As long as you have met your course requirements, it is not needed in calculating points. For example, if your preferred course requires you to achieve a C3 in ordinary level Irish, you don’t have to count this C3 in your best six subjects if you have scored higher elsewhere. If I am repeating, can I use some points from the previous year? No. Your best six subjects from the same sitting will be used to determine your final result. However you can carry a pass from a previous sitting if you need it for a college requirement. For example, if a C3 in higher level maths is a requirement to gain entry to a course you desire and you have already achieved this, you can carry that result through to the following year and use your remaining subjects to calculate your points. Medicine is the only exception to this rule, as you must take your requirements and points from the same sitting. Why do points for courses change every year? Points for courses depend on the demand for places. If a course has particularly high points for entry one year, it is not because This article first appeared in the Sunday Independent


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

the course is more difficult than previous years; it is because a large amount of students have applied for the course that year. For example, the points required for science in UCD rose from 385 points in 2009 to 435 points in 2010. This does not mean that Science in UCD has become more difficult. It means that much more students desired a place in Science in 2010 compared to in 2009. Colleges only have so many places available for students. This can work both ways. There can also be a drop in points for a course from one year to the next. For example, theoretical Physics in UCD dropped form 465 points in 2009 to 405 points in 2010. Why do courses in some colleges have higher points than similar courses in other colleges? Colleges have a limited number of places for each course. The number of places a college has depends on the size of the college. Therefore if a course has higher points in one college compared to the other, it does not necessarily make the course better or more difficult in one college. It means that the demand is higher and the number of available places is lower. For example, in 2010, the points required to study Psychology in UCD are 505 as opposed to Trinity where students needs 545 points. This huge difference in points is due to the 75 places available for psychology in UCD compared to the 31 places available for psychology in TCD. Students from both colleges will finish with the same valid degree.

The points you get for each grade level Grade Higher Ordinary Foundation Level Level Level A1





































Study & revision tips Learning how to study more effectively is probably the best investment of time you could make right now. And it’s not rocket science – all you need is a desire to get organised and the capacity to think smart.

e key Here, we cover some of th : sion aspects of study and revi Setting goals and getting started Now is the time to clarify your goals, be positive, identify the key areas to attack, make out a realistic revision schedule, and get a system working for you. Each individual student profile is different, so take the opportunity to identify your particular strengths and weaknesses and focus on those areas that could make a crucial difference to YOU.

What is good study? To be effective, study must be: ● Active – always work with a pen and paper, look for key points, and test yourself. Never just sit down and read for a set period. Focus on tasks, not time. ● Organised – always ask yourself at the start of a study session: “What do I want to have

completed in this session?” Have a plan for what you want to cover this week and this month. Have an overview of the priority areas in each subject. ● Aimed at understanding – always look to build material into patterns and associations that make sense to you. Link new information with your existing knowledge of a subject. Make use of graphic examples and illustrations. When you understand something, you will have little difficulty in remembering it.

Measurable: Measure your progress towards your goal. Use a revision checklist for each subject and tick off each topic as you study/revise it. In this way, you’ll literally see your progress. Action-related: Break down your study goal into a set of specific tasks, e.g. background reading of research material, draw up essay plan, and complete writing of essay. Base each study session on tasks, not time.

Specific: Don’t have as your target, “Study geography for an hour.”

Realistic: Don’t set goals you are unlikely to achieve. Make realistic demands on yourself, in consultation with teachers and guidance counsellors. Otherwise, you will quickly lose heart and lose interest.

Do have as your target, “Revise physical geography – rivers, and sketch a model answer to the question on last year’s paper.”

Time-based: Avoid panic before a deadline. Always time your study tasks, working back from the deadline. If you have a test in three

Setting smart study goals

The Definitive Guide to Going to College 13

condition your system to make the most of the session.

Weekend schedule ● Getting some productive study done at weekends will make all the difference to your exam prospects! Here, you can get effective revision done, can spend more time on reviewing topics covered during the week in class, can prepare for tests or oral exams, can devote time to an essay or important assignment that needs to be done well. ● The weekend is also the time when you might feel least like studying, when the level of distraction is higher, when you want to take a break from school pressures and relax. The potential for friction at home can increase at weekends. How can you cope with these competing factors?

weeks’ time, set blocks of revision work for each of the three weeks.

Time management Time management = Self-management “You can’t save time, you can only spend it wisely” The starting point is to identify your critical success factors – the things that might be holding you back. Try to answer the following questions honestly as an indicator of your current standing. Are any of these problem areas for you? Is there room for improvement? ● Do you have a routine established for study during the week? ● Do you get some solid revision done at the weekends? ● Do you have a definite time for starting study each day? ● Do you have difficulty starting into tasks? ● Do you get your written work handed in on time? ● Do you find your plans regularly knocked off-schedule? ● Do you find yourself panicking prior to tests?


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

Weekday schedule Establishing a realistic routine, early in the school year, will make a huge difference to the effectiveness of your work. Like most jobs, study is mainly a matter of habit. Once settled in a routine, life becomes much simpler and study becomes more productive. Making out your own schedule, based on your particular circumstances, will act as a helpful structure for your work. ● While quality is ultimately more important than quantity, in your Leaving Cert year you should be aiming to do four hours productive study each day. This includes homework, revision, and any study sessions in school. ● Create a study timetable – construct a weekly schedule for yourself. Start by including your class times, travel, sports and other commitments. Then add designated study periods for the afternoons/ evenings and for the weekend. It is better to start with realistic targets that you can fulfil rather than being over-ambitious at first. ● Have a definite time for starting study each evening. Pick a time that you can stick to. It will reinforce your discipline and

● The answer lies in balance and organisation. It is not possible to do everything (get some rest, play sport, work in a part-time job, go out on two or three nights, spend time with your friends, get the necessary study done) so something has to give and a balance must be arrived at. Settle on a routine that can work for you. Nominate certain blocks of time that you will devote to study at weekends (e.g. Sunday afternoon) and let these periods become firmly associated with productive study in your mind. ● You should be aiming to do up to 8 hours good study over the weekend period (i.e. from Friday evening to Sunday evening). Try getting some homework done on Friday afternoon/evening before 7pm (thus ‘breaking the back’ of the job before the weekend really starts), keep Saturday free for rest and recreation, and use Sunday (when there are less distractions) as the day to get some solid revision done.

Doing it ‘now’ ‘Putting things off’ is probably the biggest time-waster of all! Procrastination means letting the low-priority tasks get in the way of high-priority ones. Students of physics may liken it to the concept of inertia – a mass at rest tends to stay at rest. Here are some steps to spending time more

Study & revision tips productively. But remember, don’t just read them, do them! ● Start thinking positive thoughts. Incorporate self-motivating statements into your speech and thoughts: “There’s no time like the present”, “The sooner I get this done, the sooner I can go out.” ● Plan ahead by working backwards. By using revision checklists in your various subjects, you should know what quantity of material has to be covered over the coming months. Start from the final date (end of May) and divide your revision up week by week, allowing some flexibility for unforeseen delays. Surprise yourself by being ready in time! ● Learn to say NO once your priorities are set. Stick to your weekly schedule as closely as possible – it will become a help to your efforts and a shield against temptation. You’ll still be able to socialise, rest and play, but it will be on your terms, not someone else’s.

● Reward yourself. Selfreinforcement has a powerful effect on developing a ‘do it now” attitude. Take satisfaction in the completion of tasks and give yourself a ‘treat’ with the time saved by taking a break. You’ll have a greater sense of freedom and accomplishment because you’re in control, and you’ll enjoy your ‘free time’ more!

and then go looking for practical solutions. ● Do you find it difficult to motivate yourself to start studying? ● Are you easily distracted during a study session? ● Can you always account for tasks completed in a study period? ● Do you have a suitable, fixed location for regular study?

Concentration and organisation

● Can you quickly find particular notes or written work in your subject folders?

● Achieving the Quality Standard. The quantity of time that you allocate to study over the coming weeks is important – you do need a realistic yet demanding weekly schedule. But ‘putting in the time’ is no guarantee of success – you must ensure that the quality of work is good, that your revision is active, organised and SMART, that it is focussed on the right areas.

Applying the principles of learning ● Learning depends largely on your desire to learn. ● Within each study period, have a specific goal to achieve or tasks to complete. ● Concentration and efficiency decrease over a certain period of time.

To help you identify areas for personal improvement, answer the following questions honestly

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The Definitive Guide to Going to College 15

for times when you are more mentally alert. While different ‘body clocks’ will apply, most people find their ability to focus deteriorates towards the end of the day. Getting homework and revision done earlier in the day aids efficiency and also offers the reward of having time to relax after the work is done.

● When studying for a prolonged period, reward yourself with a short break when a particular task is finished, leave your desk, but don’t go near the phone or TV! ● Learning is improved by repetition. ● Regular revision of topics on a daily basis (material covered in class), weekly basis (areas covered over the week) and monthly basis (working backwards from June with your revision planners) will reinforce learning and build your confidence. ● Spaced learning is more effective than massed learning. While we often end up ‘cramming’ towards the end of the year, the most effective way to improve performance is by tackling a subject or topic in smaller chunks on a more regular basis, thus reinforcing understanding and retention. ● The learning of one thing may help or interfere with the learning of another. Be smart in how you organise the sequence of subjects in a study session. An hour of English followed by revision of History or Classical Studies will probably prove productive, but the study of Irish grammar in close proximity to French verbs might lead to confusion.


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

Questions of concentration Where? Find a fixed place to study (a particular desk/room at home, a spot in the library etc.) that becomes firmly associated in your mind with productive work. You are trying to build a habit, to make life easier for yourself by being in productive mode when you start a session. All the equipment and materials you need should be within reach, and the room well lit and ventilated, but not too comfortable! What? Remember that it’s all about being active and focused on tasks, not time! Know at the start of a session what you want to have completed by the end of the period. Make the tasks specific and realistic, not vague and large. Don’t say, “I’m going to study Geography for an hour”, or, “I’m going to spend all day Saturday studying Geography”. Decide to “Revise Chapter 7 of Regional Geography of Europe and write an outline answer to a regional geography question on last year’s exam paper”. How? Always work with a pen and paper at the ready. Getting started is often the most difficult bit, so start by “doing”. Tackle a homework question or the writing up of class notes at the start of a session. It usually helps to begin with a subject you like, move on to other less favoured areas, and then finish up with a favoured topic to maintain the interest. When? Try to schedule your study

Why? Understanding is central to the learning process so always seek to test your progress at the end of a study session. Ask yourself, “What have I just learned?” Review the material covered in school that day, even briefly, as it will aid retention and make the next day’s classes more productive. Merely recognising material isn’t enough – you must be able to reproduce it without the aid of the book or notes. The final 5-10 minutes of any session should be used for this recall.

Reading, note-taking, and memory skills Become a better processor! The process of learning involves taking in information, processing it, and storing it effectively for re-use. It is similar in many ways to the use of files and folders on your computer. However, even the most powerful computer will be of no use to you if the information and material is entered in a disorganised and chaotic manner. As the old programmers’ motto says, “garbage in = garbage out”! To help you identify areas for personal improvement, answer the following questions and then go looking for practical solutions. ● Do you often forget material that you have recently read? ● Does your mind wander during reading, causing you to re-read sections? ● Do you have a system for remembering lists of items? ● Are your notes well laid-out and easy to follow? ● Can you quickly find a particular topic in your subject folders? ● Do you find your plans regularly knocked off-schedule?

Study & revision tips ● Do you find yourself panicking prior to tests?

Reading better and faster Most students, when faced with a textbook or chapter to study, will ‘start at the beginning, read through at the same pace until the end, then stop and put the book away’. This passive approach is a most inefficient way to learn, as it can take longer and leave you bogged down in detail, with no overall grasp of the subject matter. By adopting a more active approach to reading, you can begin to read better and faster within a very short space of time. The PQ2R method has proven to be most successful in this regard. Try it for the remaining weeks of term and see the benefits. P = Preview: Begin your reading task with a quick skim (2-3 minutes) of the text, trying to get an overview of the chapter or text. Look for section headings,

p o T E FIV


nt o i s i ev



Know what you have to do. Relate all your revision tasks to the structure and format of the exam papers you will face. Make use of revision checklists and exam guides plus information on the marking schemes available in all your subjects to match the main syllabus sections and exam topics to the time available for revision. Plan to get a certain number of sections covered each week. Devote more time to the more important sections of each course.

illustrative charts and diagrams, signposts or key words. Don’t start highlighting text at this point. Q = Question: This is the key to active learning. Look for answers to the basic questions of Who? What? Where? Why? When? Identify the main theme or learning point of the particular text. R = Read: Now read the chapter carefully, with these questions in mind. Your mind will be actively looking for answers as you read. Work with a pen and paper, make brief summary notes, look for ‘topic sentences’ that summarise the most important point in a paragraph or section and highlight them, if necessary. Vary your reading speed – move quickly over lighter, less important material and slow down when you come to a difficult section.

initial questions. Summarise your findings from this study session.

Making your notes useful

R = Review: Always check your understanding of the material by reviewing and testing your recall before putting the text away. Look at the notes you have taken and check that they answer your

The purpose of making summary notes on a topic or section is to aid your overall understanding of material, to help you distinguish between what is really important information (depth) and what





Revise in ‘chunks’. Break up items into manageable ‘chunks’ that can be reviewed regularly. This makes it easier to tackle your least favourite areas and helps morale because you feel you are getting more done. Write specific material on ‘flash cards’ (small cards which can be kept in your pocket for quick review) e.g. verbs, vocabulary, formulae or definitions. These can be very useful towards the end of the year. Prepare by doing. As effective study must be active, all your revision should be based around testing your recall and practising your output. Merely recognising material in your notes and textbooks is no guarantee of successful revision – you must be able to recall it without the aid of notes. Work with a pen and paper, write down points, sketch model answers to exam questions, and then check your results!

Revise from the top down. It is easier to understand and retain material that is well organised. Start with a good grasp of the main ideas or concepts, then follow with the sub-topics and supporting details. Try to retain an overview of the subject at all times during revision – how does this particular topic relate to the main syllabus sections and the likely exam questions? In this way, you will avoid getting bogged down in insignificant detail. Beware of new material in the final weeks of term. Towards the end of the year, you should be aiming to consolidate existing knowledge and build on this foundation rather than trying to learn new material. Once the course has been covered to your satisfaction and you have a reasonable choice of questions in the exam, you are best advised to consolidate your main choices rather than chasing after new material for options which you are unlikely to take in the exam.

The Definitive Guide to Going to College 17

If the goal is to improve your long term memory, then the key to success is based on the efficiency of input (the ‘mental filing system’ we employ). Reducing the burden on the limited short term memory, and channelling information into long term storage, is based on the creation of patterns and the avoidance of randomness.

is merely supporting detail. Reference to the main syllabus topics will help the process of discernment within each subject. In addition, good summary notes make retrieval of information quicker and easier.

Sort out your filing system If you haven’t already done so, get your subject folders and notes organised immediately. Invest in some ring-binders, dividers, plastic pockets, etc. Have a separate folder for each subject (a permanent reference point) and then keep a ‘current folder’ for managing notes in progress.

‘Less is always more’ When writing notes, remember they should be a summary, not an extensive repetition of what is in the textbook. Don’t crowd the page. Stick to main headings and sub-headings. Use abbreviations where appropriate. Try to reduce what you need to know on the topic down to one A4 sheet. Once you have an overview, it is easier to fill out the detail.

Make your notes visual Ensure your notes have a memorable appearance so that you can recall them easily. Use illustrations, diagrams, graphs, colours, and boxes (‘a picture is worth a thousand words’). Arrange the material in a logical hierarchy (title, sub-point, explanation, example). Ideally, you should be able to close your eyes in


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

an exam and visualise a particular page of notes.

Beware of transcribing and highlighting! Merely re-writing the text from the book into your notes does not ensure retention. Try to put things in your own words and devise your own examples – this will make the material more meaningful. Only use the highlighter pen AFTER you have previewed and questioned a text, thus ensuring you identify the most important material and you avoid the creation of a fluorescent textbook!

‘Save’ your notes carefully Practice following the logic of your computer files, when storing information. Think - where does this material best fit (subject, section, topic, sub-topic, etc.)? In this way, you will ensure that it is efficiently processed and easily retrieved both physically (during revision) and mentally (when you need it in an exam).

Improving memory We often blame our memory for poor academic performance (“I’m no good at remembering names/dates/rules/verbs/ characteristics”) when really we should be addressing our faulty input and storage system. There is a big difference between short term and long term memory. If you study a topic one night and can recall most of it the next morning, don’t be fooled into thinking that you will be able to remember it accurately in two months time.

‘Chunking’: as the average person can only hold seven ‘items’ in short term memory, grouping items together into ‘chunks’ can increase capacity. This is generally used for remembering numbers (think of how you remember phone numbers by grouping the seven digits into two or three chunks) but can be applied to other listings in various subjects. Repetition: Studies indicate that 66% of material is forgotten within seven days if it is not reviewed or recited again by the student, and 88% is gone after six weeks. Don’t make life harder for yourself – build in a brief daily and weekly review of material covered. It will save you having to re-learn material from scratch! Application and association: The best way to channel material to long term memory is to organise it into meaningful associations. Link it to existing information and topics and create vivid personal examples which act as ‘mental hooks’ or ‘cues’ for recalling material in the future. Thus, new items are put in context. If you learn a new formula/verb/rule, try to put it into practice immediately with a relevant example. Use of mnemonics: these are various word games which can act as memory aids and which allow personalisation and creativity. Think of stalactites (come down from the ceiling) and stalagmites (go up from the ground); the colours of the rainbow (‘Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain’ to remember red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet); the seven characteristics of living organisms – Mr. Grief (Movement, Reproduction, Growth, Respiration, Irritability, Excretion, Feeding). You can devise many more of these to aid your personalised recall of items in your subjects.

Study & revision tips Revision and exam preparation Practising output: To prepare for an exam, you must practice doing what the exam requires you to do giving out information, not taking it in! This applies to regular class tests as well as the final exams. Prior to June, you will probably have had the benefit of many class tests and a ‘mock exam’ where the Leaving Cert conditions are simulated for your benefit – you can learn a lot by reflecting honestly on your performance in these tests. You also have the benefit of a wealth of freely-available information about the exams. Past exam papers, marking schemes, study guides, even Chief Examiners Reports on some subjects are all there to be used. Make use of past papers: These should be your constant companion in all revision tasks. For each topic you revise, consult

the past questions on this subject and then attempt answers to them. Check your answers, fill in the ‘knowledge gaps’ where necessary, and file away the correct ‘model answer’ in your notes for future reference. You will also start to notice any trends in the questions asked. Follow the marks: It is only in recent years that the Department have published the marking schemes for all subjects and these are an invaluable aid to exam preparation (2000 – 2002 papers available on the Department of Education and Science website, ie; 2003 papers available on www. You can see how the marks were allocated for each question on last year’s paper, what the subdivision was between statement of point, explanation, example etc., and what quantity of answer was required in each case. This

knowledge will greatly inform your revision work and helps to remove the mystique of the exam. Try a dress rehearsal: Each exam paper contains its own particular structure and challenge, with varying emphasis on answering style and depth. While much of your ongoing revision will be based on individual topics and questions, it is a very useful exercise to tackle an exam paper in its totality (at least once before June). It forces you to consider your strategy – the questions you will want to attempt or avoid, the issues of timing, the number of points you will need to make in each part of a question. Having performed this exercise a couple of times, your confidence levels rise as you fix on your strategy for the exam and realise that there can’t be any major surprises for you in June. Article contributed by

Get free access to expert Leaving and Junior Cert online tutorials with eircom StudyHub and take the exams in your stride! Thousands of students use eircom StudyHub every year to help them prepare for their exams. With over 500 study packs available, free to eircom broadband customers, it’s simple to see why. Every pack has a video lesson, notes and an audio guide all prepared by expert teachers and a great range of subjects including Project Maths, Biology and Irish.

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The Definitive Guide to Going to College 19

: Private colleges

A world of opportunities

Before you even realise it, the time to decide your career future has arrived! Everything seems to happen at once – studying for exams, deciding which college or university you would like to join and choosing which career to take.


or every student, these choices present a significant challenge and at first glance your options can look limited. Going to University may be your only thought now, but there is a wider world of educational opportunities to be explored and private education is just one of them. Private Education has been considered by students as another educational choice for many years and it is regarded as offering flexibility and real opportunities for future careers. Classes tend to be smaller, lectures more personal and lecturer support more attainable. Applications to Private Colleges can be submitted either through the CAO or directly to the College in question and the Leaving Certificate requirements tend to be more achievable than those for the Institutes of Technology or Universities. Private Colleges offer undergraduate degrees at Level 7 and 8, Higher Certificates at Level 6 and a range of diplomas and short-term or part time courses. If you want to progress after achieving a degree, postgraduate education is on offer too. Private tuition is externally validated so you can be satisfied that your qualification appears on the National Qualifications Framework (NFQ) and is recognised both


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

nationally and internationally. Check with individual providers for more details. A common assumption made about private education is that it is expensive but this is not necessarily true. Private education incurs tuition fees but students can generally claim tax relief and providers offer other incentives for example in Law where the core books and manuals are included in the cost. Remember too, that students must pay a registration fee in all state colleges which is generally included

in the tuition fees of the private educational provider. Deciding your future career can prove to be a challenge and considering all of your options is crucial. There are a number of Private Colleges to choose from so start your search immediately by visiting one of their many Open Days throughout the year or call any provider directly to arrange an individual appointment.

Focus On…

Pilot Training Atlantic Flight Training Academy founded in 1995 is Ireland’s largest and one of Europe’s leading Independednt Flight Training Organisations. Why become a pilot If you enjoy the challenge of working in a dynamic environment, a pilot career may be for you. As a pilot you will have to use your decision making skills, technical knowledge and hand eye coordination in order to complete a safe, successful flight. You won’t be stuck in an office building. Your office will be mobile and come with a spectacular view! As a pilot, you get paid to travel. Flying jobs are not 9-5, Monday through Friday. You will fly a variety of schedules and as you become more senior, you will be able to dictate what type of schedule you fly. Pilots generally have more days off than those with traditional jobs. Flying for an airline, you can expect to have 10-15 days off a month. As for pay, the entry level flying jobs are First officers and can expect to make between €35,000 and €45,000 a year. Regional airlines will pay less than major airlines. A captain flying for a major airline can expect to earn an average of €140,000 per year.

First Steps to Becoming a Pilot

as an EASA Certified Pilot. You can accomplish these steps at an Approved Flight Training Organisation (ATO), at your own pace, or through a full-time program. • Do your research of courses available. In Ireland, the largest Independent Flight Training organisation is Atlantic Flight Training Academy(AFTA). You can download their brochure at www. • Speak to pilots, or students who are training to be pilots. Make an appointment to talk with one of AFTA’s Training Advisors. They are trained to answer all your questions regarding training, finance and career prospects. This service is free. • A visit to a facility such as Atlantic Flight Training Academy is an absolute must. See the training facilities, buildings, fleet and talk to the instructors. • Which Medical, Class 1 or 2? A Class 1 medical is a must if you want to become a professional pilot and fly for a career. This medical can only be taken at an Aeromedical Centre. It is best to

complete this medical before any training begins. A Class 2 medical is normally sufficient if you only intend to do a Private Pilot’s Licence and have no intention of becoming a professional pilot. This medical can be completed by a specially appointed Aeromedical Examiner (AME) and details of an AME in your area can be had from the Mater Hospital. • Which Course, Integrated or Modular? The Integrated Course is a highly structured and focused course where a student goes from zero flying experience to completion (Frozen ATPL) in just 14 months. To be eligible for this course the candidate must first pass an assessment to ensure that he/she is capable of completing in such a short period of time. Then he/she must be able to commit to training every day, 5 days per week, and adhere to a strict training regime. This course is not always suitable for everyone. The Modular Course is designed for individuals who do not wish to undertake a full time course

Pilot Training requires a series of steps before you are employable

The Definitive Guide to Going to College 21

of study or who wish to “stagger” their training. The course can be completed in seven modules over a period of time which is more suited to the trainee. People who have other commitments and cannot train 5 days every week find this method ideal

What is my Career Outlook? According to Boeing The Boeing outlook indicates that by 2032 the world will require: • 498,000 new commercial airline pilots “The urgent demand for competent aviation personnel is a global issue that is here now and is very real,” said Sherry Carbary, vice president of Boeing Flight Services. “The key to closing the pilot gap in our industry is enhancing our training with the latest, cutting-edge technologies to attract and retain young people interested in careers in aviation.” The 2013 outlook projects significant increases in pilot demand -- compared to previous forecasts -- in all regions except Europe, which declined slightly over last year’s outlook. Overall, the demand is driven by steadily increasing airplane deliveries, particularly single-aisle airplanes, and represents a global requirement for about 25,000 new pilots annually.


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

Projected demand for new pilots and technicians by global region: • Asia Pacific – 192,300 pilots • Europe – 99,700 pilots • North America – 85,700 pilots • Latin America – 48,600 pilots • Middle East – 40,000 pilots • Africa – 16,500 pilots • Russia and CIS – 15,200 pilots “This is a global issue that can only be addressed by industrywide innovation and solutions,” said Carbary. “We need to attract more young people to careers in aviation by continually looking at innovative ways to train pilots and technicians, moving away from paper and chalkboard-based learning to incorporate tablets, eBooks, gaming technology and three-dimensional models. Aviation is a great field to be in—we have a responsibility to make sure it’s a viable career option for the world’s youth.”

According to Airbus As aviation becomes increasingly accessible in all parts of the world, future Journeys will increasingly be made by air particularly to and from emerging markets. According to Airbus’ latest Global Market Forecast (GMF) in the next 20 years (2013-

2032), air traffic will grow at 4.7 per cent annually requiring over 29,220 new passenger and freighter aircraft valued at nearly US$4.4 trillion. Some 28,350 of these are passenger aircraft valued at US$4.1 trillion. Of these, some 10,400 will replace existing aircraft with more efficient ones. With today’s fleet of 17,740 aircraft, it means that by 2032, the worldwide fleet will double to nearly 36,560 aircraft.


Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses in the Further Education (FE) sector offer another alternative to the university route. PLCs should be considered for many reasons‌


LCs tend to emphasize the practical aspects of learning, with less focus on academic study than other traditional courses. Students are encouraged to be active participants in class. As well as teaching vocational skills necessary for a particular job, each programme incorporates communications and technology. Class sizes in PLCs tend to be smaller than in Universities and ITs, and lecturers are generally available and accessible. More often than not, there is no need to relocate, as courses are available in about 200 schools and colleges nationwide, mainly offered by vocational education committees (VECs). Courses are flexible and have the ability to change various aspects in order to respond to the needs of industry and the job market. Many PLCs focus largely on providing training that will lead directly to specific jobs, with several courses including work placements.

Increasingly, they are being used as a pre-third level course, with progression routes from the PLC into degree programmes in either a university or an institute of technology. This allows students who failed to achieve the necessary points to enter a specific university course to get a place on the same course a year or two later. There are direct links for example, between several PLC business courses and degree courses at Dublin City University, University College Dublin and the Dublin Institute of Technology. In 2009, there was a 26% increase in the number of CAO candidates using a FETAC award to apply for a place in third-level. For many PLC students however, there is no need for further third level study, as qualifications from several PLCs are internationally recognised. For instance, some colleges offer qualifications from the Institute of Certified Public

Accountants and City and Guilds. Most offer FETAC qualifications that are now widely recognised and in some cases, such as childcare, are job requirements. PLC courses are in high demand. In 2009 there were almost twice as many applicants as there were places. Given that there are almost 32,000 places, it becomes obvious that it is not just school leavers who are seeking places, but also mature students, in everincreasing numbers. Unemployed people who find that their work skills need to be updated are also flocking to PLCs. Entry to PLCs is based more on interview than on academic results. Unlike the CAO, each individual college handles their own applications. Again, unlike the CAO, there is no universal deadline or ‘change-of-mind’ date. These courses start filling as early as Easter, so they are worth researching early on.

The Definitive Guide to Going to College 23


s and


An apprenticeship allows you to develop a particular skill or train for a specific career.


n Ireland, apprenticeship programmes have been designated by SOLAS and come within the scope of the Statutory Apprenticeship system. If you feel that academic life is not for you and that you would like to do something more ‘hands on’, then an apprenticeship is worth considering.

Benefits ● Apprenticeship training is an excellent opportunity to acquire the necessary skills, knowledge, competencies, experience and qualifications to build a successful career; ● Apprenticeships are demanddriven, according to the needs of the job market; ● Apprenticeship training is relevant and tailored to the needs of industry; ● Apprentices are paid as they progress through their apprenticeships; ● On completion of an apprenticeship, apprentices will become a craftsperson in the chosen occupation and hold a FETAC Advanced Certificate, which is a national and internationally recognised qualification; ● On successful completion of an apprenticeship an apprentice is eligible for consideration for entry into related degree programmes provided by the


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

Institutes of Technology providing he/she also meets other special entry requirements. Details of the higher education institutes offering progression from FETAC Advanced Certificate – Craft to levels 7 and 8 are available on the FETAC website http://www.fetac. ie/fetac/documents/Progression_ from_FETAC_Adv_Cert-Craft_to_ HE_Courses.pdf

institute of technology or other approved training provider.

Apprenticeship listings SOLAS Apprenticeship applies to the following crafts: ● Agricultural Mechanics* ● Aircraft Mechanics* ● Brick and Stone laying

Course Structure

● Carpentry & Joinery

Apprenticeship is Standard Based. During your apprenticeship, you will be required to follow a specific course of training and undergo a series of assessments to confirm that you have reached the required standard.

● Construction Plant Fitting*

Apprenticeship generally comprises of seven phases; three off-the-job training and development phases and four on-the-job practice and work experience phases. The only exceptions to the above are the Floor/wall tiler and print media apprenticeships which have five phases; three on-the-job and two off-the-job training phases.

● Heavy Vehicle Mechanics*

Employers have responsibility for providing on-the-job training. SOLAS and the Department of Education & Science have the responsibility for providing off-thejob training.

● Print Media*

The off-the-job phases are delivered by a FÁS Training Centre,

● Electrical* ● Electrical Instrumentation* ● Electronic Security Systems* ● Farriery ● Floor & Wall Tiling* ● Industrial Insulation* ● Instrumentation* ● MAMF ● Metal Fabrication ● Motor Mechanics* ● Painting & Decorating* ● Plastering ● Plumbing ● Refrigeration & Air Conditioning* ● Sheet Metalworking ● Tool making ● Vehicle Body Repairs* *A person wishing to become an apprentice in one of the trades marked * must pass a colour vision test approved by SOLAS.

How to become an apprentice Before seeking an apprenticeship it is advisable to fully understand what is involved. You should observe the type of work being done in your intended apprenticeship. You should ask employers, qualified crafts people or apprentices about your intended craft and potential career opportunities. You can also consult with career guidance counsellors and your local FÁS Employment Office for advice. You need to inform your local SOLAS office of your interest in apprenticeship so that your details can be made available on request to employers.

Assessments Apprentices are assessed on a structured ongoing basis throughout their apprenticeship. Modular assessments are carried out during the off-thejob training phases. These assessments incorporate course work, standardised practical assessments and theoretical assessments. During the on-the-job training phases of apprenticeship the apprentice’s competence is assessed to a pre-specified standard by the employer.

Course duration At present the general duration of apprenticeship is a minimum of four years provided that the following is complied with:

FETAC Advanced Certificate. This Level 6 certificate has national and international recognition and is a compulsory requirement for craftsperson status.

Requirements to becoming an apprentice: ● You must obtain a job as an apprentice in your chosen occupation. ● Your employer must be approved by SOLAS and must register you as an apprentice within two weeks of recruitment. ● You must meet the Educational Requirements (below)

Entry requirements ● The minimum age at which the employment of an apprentice may commence is 16 years of age. The minimum educational requirements are: ● Grade D in five subjects in the Junior Certificate or an approved equivalent ● Where individuals do not meet the minimum requirements they may be registered as an apprentice by an employer if: ● They successfully complete an approved preparatory course and interview. or ● They are over 18 years of age with at least three years work experience approved by SOLAS and successfully complete an assessment interview.

● Attend all off-the-job training when scheduled with SOLAS ● Pass all off-the-job modular assessment tests on the first attempt ● Pass all on-the-job assessments and ensure results are returned to SOLAS on time

Advanced Certificate Successful completion of an apprenticeship is a compulsory requirement for the award of the

The Definitive Guide to Going to College 25

Approved Qualification Equivalence FÁS recognises people may seek to commence apprenticeship holding qualifications other than those outlined. In such instances people should contact their local FÁS Services to Business Office for advice on qualification equivalence.

Funding arrangements All apprentices are paid a training allowance by FÁS while attending off-the-job training.

What wages are apprentices paid? During your apprenticeship you will be paid an apprentice rate. The actual rate may vary depending on the occupation and employer. Generally, the rate will increase in a number of steps during the apprenticeship. You should seek details of rates of pay for apprentices with your prospective employer.

What are the duties and responsibilities of apprentices? Like other employees, apprentices must work for their employer with care and skill and must follow the employer’s instructions, provided they are reasonable and lawful. You must be diligent and honest and must not wilfully disrupt the employer’s business nor disclose any confidential information. You also have a duty to take care of your own health and safety and that of other people in the workplace who might be affected by your acts or omissions.


apprenticeships in that they offer formal training with SOLAS and onthe-job training with an employer as well as a training allowance from SOLAS for the duration of the course. Another feature of the traineeship is that the employer nominates an experienced member of staff to act as a skills coach to provide training in the workplace to enable the programme participant build on the skills and knowledge learned in the training centre. This member of staff will also supervise the agreed workplace training plan for the programme participant. Traineeships are between 15 and 59 weeks in length, so are of a shorter duration than an apprenticeship course. Upon successful completion of a traineeship course, a FETAC qualification is achieved, at either Certificate or Advanced Certificate level. As mentioned above, this is a national and internationally recognised qualification. The basic requirements for applicants are that you are over the age of 16, living in Ireland and registered with your local FÁS office.

Agri-business ● Thatcher Information technology ● Software developer ● IT support specialist Sales ● Pharmacy sales assistant ● Sales & marketing assistant

Traineeships are available in the following:

Leisure and sport

Technical and operative

● Equestrian International Instructor Level 1 (BHSAI)

● Jewellery manufacturing operative ● Business systems service technician ● Private security personnel Personal service occupations

Apprentices must apply themselves diligently to learning all aspects of their chosen occupation and must complete all phases of training and assessments as required by the particular apprenticeship.

● Beauty therapist


● Financial advisors assistant

SOLAS also offers traineeships, which are similar to

● Supply chain logistics administrator

The Definitive Guide to Going to College

● Freight forwarding clerk

● Childcare practitioner ● Healthcare assistant

● Trainee jockey

● Outdoor activity instructor ● Racing groom All SOLAS Traineeship courses are scheduled based on demand in each SOLAS location. To find out what Traineeships are scheduled in your area please contact your local SOLAS employment services office.

Administration and business ● Office administrator

Further Information

● Legal secretary

To receive further information about training and qualifying as an apprentice, please contact your local SOLAS Office of log onto www.fá

Repeating your

Leaving Certificate

Deciding to take the Leaving Certificate exams a second time is not an easy thing to do...


here are a number of issues that need to be addressed before making a decision and questions that students should ask themselves include: ● Did I perform below my ability the first time around, and if so, why? ● Am I likely to improve? ● Was my study strategy effective? ● How was my study discipline? ● Could it be improved? Mary Dorgan, a guidance counsellor at the Institute of Education in Dublin, says “I often advise students that they want to repeat their exams, not the bad habits of last year.” There are many reasons why students feel the need to consider repeating. Illness or the death of a friend or family member may have overshadowed the Leaving Certificate year or even disturbed the exams themselves. Perhaps you didn’t have a clear goal the first time around and now know exactly what course you wish to aim for. Or, in many unfortunate cases, you may have missed out on your dream course by a few points. Ask yourself what you’re aiming for. Focus helps, according to Neal Martin, assistant director of the seventh year programme in St. Laurence College, Loughlinstown. “Students who have a clear vision of what they want tend to be very motivated and make for successful repeat students,” Martin says. If you have no idea what you want,

that is likely to be part of the problem. There are interest and aptitude tests that you can take – talk to your guidance counsellor – and they can be helpful in narrowing things down. Many students only realise what they want to do midway through sixth year, by which point it can be too late, especially if high points are needed. These students tend to be successful second time around, according to Dorgan. Repeating immediately isn’t the best option for everyone either. “We get a lot of students who are two or three years out of school,” explains Dorgan. “Sometimes they’ve been studying something in college and come to the realisation that they want something else. They make really excellent repeat students.” You should consider all of your options before making a decision. Ultimately, you should be aiming to improve your performance. The students for whom repeating doesn’t work are those who repeat because they think there’s nothing else out there for them, according to teachers. “You need to make sure that a student isn’t repeating simply because their parents want them to,” Martin explains. “They have to want to do it for themselves.” Dorgan agrees. “The motivation to repeat can’t be coming from your parents, it has to come from you. If it doesn’t, there’s no point,” she says.

If you feel that improvement is unlikely, perhaps an apprenticeship or Post-Leaving Certificate course would be more suitable (see our section on PLC’s and Apprenticeships elsewhere in this guide). However, if you earned high points but missed out on your ideal course by a slim margin, or in random selection, repeating is an option very worthy of considering. One important advantage that repeat students have is that points can only be taken from a single sitting of the exams. Once you meet the matriculation requirements for college, which are English, Irish, maths and foreign language; you do not have to repeat those subjects. Instead, you can focus on the subjects where you feel you will earn higher points.

Where to repeat There are a number of options for the student considering repeating the Leaving Cert. Many students opt to return to their own school, as a number of schools offer a ‘seventh year’, consisting of dedicated repeat classes. You can also opt to repeat in many VECs. Alternatively, several private institutions offer devoted repeat classes, such as the Institute of Education and The Education Centre, both in Dublin; Yeats College in Galway and Waterford; and Bruce College in Cork.

The Definitive Guide to Going to College 27


ns in Irelan eo rg u S of e g le ol C al The Roy

The RCSI Aim High Medicine Scholarship R CSI’s primary purpose is the education and training of healthcare professionals and health sciences research. More than 2,000 undergraduate students representing 50 nations are currently enrolled in its Medicine (1,800), Pharmacy (200) and Physiotherapy (100) healthcare degree programmes. There are 17,000 RCSI Alumni working as medical doctors or in allied disciplines around the world. Students with disabilities, members of the Traveller community and socio-economically disadvantaged School Leavers continue to experience a variety of barriers to reaching their full educational potential. With this aim in mind RCSI sets aside places for School Leavers applying through the CAO. Courses included under RCSI’s Access & Disability programmes are Medicine (RC001), Physiotherapy (RC004) and Pharmacy (RC005). School Leavers applying through the CAO who provide the necessary evidence relating to their socioeconomic circumstances and/ or disability and who satisfy matriculation, minimum entry and subject requirements are eligible to compete for a quota of places allocated on reduced points. The RCSI Aim High Medicine Scholarship, established in 2013 is generously provided by an RCSI Graduate who wishes to remain anonymous. The RCSI Aim High Medicine Scholarship is awarded to a school leaver who excels academically, is passionate about medicine as their career choice and who would


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

otherwise be unable to attend Examination and meet all other third level education due to social national entry criteria (HPAT). disadvantage or financial constraints. The Trustees can take additional criteria into consideration when RCSI relies on the HEAR eligibility determining the suitability of a criteria and the applicants’ candidate for award of the RCSI school references in determining Aim High Medicine Scholarship. eligibility for the Aim High Medicine Scholarship. RCSI Aim High Medicine Scholarship applicants must: ● Have a CAO application with RC001 listed as a course choice. ● Meet HEAR eligibility requirements ● Present a minimum of 6 subjects in the Irish Leaving Certificate Examination which must include English, Mathematics, a 3rd language and a science subject from the group, Physics, Chemistry, Physics/Chemistry and Biology.

CAO Course Codes RC001 Medicine School Leavers 5 or 6 year programme – 39 places RC001 Medicine Mature Entry 5 or 6 year programme – 15 places RC101 Medicine Graduate Entry 4 year programme – 30 places RC004 Physiotherapy (BSc) 4 year programme – 13 places Graduate Entry (3yrs) – 13 places RC005 Pharmacy (MPharm) 5 year programme. School Leavers – 30 places. Graduates – 16 places

● Have resided in Ireland for at least 3 of the past 5 years and immediately preceding the year of application.


● Achieve a minimum of 480 points in the Irish Leaving Certificate



Leaving Cert Answers App Merging education with technology, this App enables Leaving Cert. students to access high-quality sample answers anytime, anywhere.


he Educational Company of Ireland (Edco) continues its position as a leading innovator in educational technology with the introduction of an educational App for the iPhone and which can be viewed on an iPad. Using the Leaving Cert Answers App, which is the only one of its kind on the market, students can conveniently access valuable, expertly-answered sample answers, hints and tips for the exams. The App aims to prepare students for their exams, wherever they are, maximising their chances of Leaving Cert success. ‘We know that Leaving Cert students want easy access to expert answers and advice. Our new and innovative Leaving Cert Answers App contains valuable

revision content, accessible anytime, anywhere,’ says Julie Glennon, Sales & Marketing Manager with Edco. The app contains over 1,000 sample answers, hints and tips for six Leaving Cert. subjects, including English (H), Biology (H), French (H), Geography (H), Irish (O) and Business (H). Students can search for content by topic: a new and unique function which, along with quick-link tabs, facilitates ease of use. The App can be used both onand offline. Free to download, the App offers one year free for all six subjects. Students can avail of in-app purchasing if required, with the full series available for just €4.49. Subjects can also be purchased individually for just €1.79 and €3.59 for three subjects.

The Leaving Cert Answers App is available from the App Store today. For more information, visit the website at The Educational Company of Ireland, Ballymount Road, Walkinstown, Dublin 12. Twitter: Facebook: EdcoStudents

Taking a year out

the gap year More and more Irish students are now opting to take a year out before they take up their place in college.


he most important aspect of this decision is to ensure that it’s a year of experience and worthwhile opportunities. It shouldn’t be wasted. Some students spend the time travelling while others spend their gap year working. The ‘working holiday’ combines both and is a very popular option for gap year students, also known as ‘gappers’, who get to experience the culture and work ethic of the country they visit. Some people opt to work for charitable organisations, while others earn money while overseas by working cash in hand, often in the hospitality industry. Another growing trend for gappers is to enrol in global education programs that combine language study, home stays, cultural immersion, community service, and independent study. Such experiential opportunities exist in countries from India to Vietnam and Namibia to Chile.

Conservation volunteering A big issue of recent times, conservation volunteering projects


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

are the best way to protect the planet from becoming less and less green. As a conservation volunteer, you get to visit some of the most beautiful places on earth and do your bit to help the environment. Some conservation volunteering opportunities available could see you monitoring sharks off the coast of Australia; recording orangutan population growth in the jungles of Borneo; assisting in marine conservation in the Caribbean or rescuing penguins in South Africa. There is usually a fee involved in conservation volunteering, which may or may not cover flights, but will offer insurance cover for the duration of your stay, as well as room and board and any travel once you reach your chosen country.

Community volunteering Community volunteering lets you see the world and meet lots of new people in it! By participating in community volunteering

programmes you experience the true culture of the country you visit. You can help within the community through education, conservation, caring for children and community development work. As a community volunteer you could find yourself building a school in Ethiopia; helping out in an orphanage in India; working with hill-tribes in Northern Vietnam or assisting the blind of Brazil.

Working holiday Ireland has reciprocal arrangements with several countries worldwide, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan and New Zealand. These Working Holiday schemes allow you to travel to and work casually in whichever country you choose in order to fund your stay. There are age limits on all working holiday schemes and also a time limit (usually a year) on your stay. As Ireland is a member of the EU, Irish gappers do not need to apply for any special visa in order to

work in any other EU member state. So whether you want to go grape-picking in France, flowerpicking in Holland, or teaching English in such exotic places as Dubai or Japan, there is any number of resources online to assist your adventure! There are a number of organisations that can help with finding work abroad. One such organisation close to home is the European Voluntary Service (EVS). This allows young people between 18 and 25 to work as volunteers in other European countries. EVS is funded by the European Union and students can work on projects involving issues such as healthcare or unemployment.

Some of the benefits of becoming an EVS volunteer are: ● The return airfare from Ireland is provided; ● Accommodation and food is provided; ● Training in the language and cultural awareness is provided before commencing voluntary service; ● A pocket money allowance of €38 per week is given; ● EVS offer local support and guidance. Back home in Ireland there are also organisations who are looking for young people

to help with many projects such as sports and recreation, fundraising, administration etc. A quick and simple search on the web will provide lists of these organisations. Getting a job for a year is another option for your gap year. This can be an excellent way of getting a bit of money together to fund your college career. Just make sure that it’s something you enjoy. It would be even more beneficial if the job provided relevant experience to your future studies. Foreign travel can be done in two ways. One way is to use your gap year to travel and experience other cultures and countries, without being dependent on getting work to finance the trip. In this case it is advisable to have plenty of money before you go. The other option is to travel but work along the way, gaining experience and learning to live on a budget which will come in very handy when you start college! Wherever you go, be sure to check out what visas and/or vaccinations you will need before you go. Whatever you decide to do for your gap year, enjoy it, for it is a unique opportunity that few people get.

Information You can get more information on the programme from the Irish office of the Experiment in Intercultural Learning (EIL). You can contact them on: 021 455 1535 or email

The Definitive Guide to Going to College 31

Living away

from home

For many, the move to third level education is the first time you will be living away from home...


hether you anticipate the move with dread or with delight, it is a major landmark in life. For some, the move will mean moving in with friends from school who are moving to the same town or institution, but for most, it will mean moving to a new town where you don’t know many, if any, people. There is plenty that you can do before you move, and in the first few days, to make the transition go as smoothly as possible for you, and of course to make it an experience you enjoy rather than fear.

Before you move Get your hands on as much information about your chosen college as you can, as well as the area in which it is situated. If you can, visit the campus before term starts in order to familiarise yourself with your future surroundings. Get a feel for where you would like to live in relation to the college. Read the information under the ‘Accommodation’ section later in this guide. Walk around the local area and collect any maps or information leaflets that are available. Find out about the public transport links and get copies of the relevant timetables. Also get a copy of the bus or train timetable so that you know how to get home on the weekends or holidays. Try to have your college fees and any grants organised well in advance. You don’t want the added stress of trying to complete paperwork and application forms while freshers’ week is going on


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

around you and everyone else is out getting to know each other. By having as much done as possible beforehand, you will be giving yourself the best opportunity to use your first few days away from home to the best advantage.

The first few days If you are worried about your first few days in your new surroundings, take comfort in the fact that everyone around you is feeling the same, no matter how much bravado they show. If your third level institution offers an orientation week before classes or lectures start, it is a good idea to take part in this. It offers the opportunity to get to know the campus – quite a lot of time may be spent trying to find where the various lectures and classes are held! Larger campuses have canteens, cafes, shops and even bars that are there to be explored. Orientation week is also a good time to introduce yourself to your tutors and find out if they have any book lists that you need. You may find yourself bumping into other future classmates who are doing the same thing. Make sure to get your official college ID also, as you will need this for pretty much everything, from borrowing books from the college library, to registering for clubs and societies. It’s also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the Students’ Union. Many students’ unions distribute a ‘freshers’ pack’ that will contain

things like information on college clubs and societies, timetables, year planners and sometimes even some free edible goodies!

Homesickness Despite the madness going on around you, you are bound to feel homesick on occasion during your early days. Keep in touch with friends from home. Some of them may be in other parts of the country or abroad, in their own new college, feeling exactly the same. Try to keep enough money with you to have credit on your mobile phone. A text home during those tough moments can help lift the spirits. Avail of invitations to coffee or for a sociable pint. Even if you don’t feel like you have much in common with the person issuing the invitation, you are sure to meet ‘friends of friends’ with whom you may strike up lasting friendships. Don’t forget that your college will probably have a welfare or student officer who is there to help. They are used to people feeling disorientated during their first few days away from home and will be able to offer some words of comfort and advice.


of College essentials

Is your Facebook profile the one you want to carry you through to third level? Can you cook yourself a decent dinner? This idiot-proof guide will set you up for your first days in college Attendance: Nobody will notice if you don’t show up. This starts as a novelty, fast becomes a habit and eventually turns into a necessity when you’re too scared to show your lesser-spotted face. College offers so many opportunities that it’s easy to forget why you’re actually there. Your degree matters at the end of the day and absenteeism just creates a spiral of anxiety best avoided by early and frequent attendance. Budget 2014: The student contribution charge for third-level institutions will increase by €250 to €2,750 for 2014. Education Minister Ruairi Quinn announced the charge would increase by €250 until it reaches €3,000 in 2015. Coupons: Retain coupon books. You’ll gather a good few during Freshers Week and probably leave them in the bar. However, the day will come when you only have €2 to feed yourself until the end of the week and one of those coupons might just save your life, or at least save you the indignity of going to your parents for money again. Cut out, keep and watch out for those expiration dates. While you’re at it, join a couple of the ‘deal of the day’ websites. You’ll pick up surprising bargains for not much money at all.

Derring-do: Aka chutzpah, audacity, cheek. In your first few days of college you need to make new friends and this requires a bit of neck. Everyone feels the same way. People just react differently. Be one of the proactive ones. Don’t cower in the corner hoping someone will approach. Smile, make eye contact and introduce yourself to somebody. Believe it or not, they’re scared too. Empathy: You have been that soldier who missed the lecture when all the information about assignments was given out. On that serendipitous day that you happen to be the one who turned up, share the love. Seek out the empty seaters. It’s good karma.

development, 12 years in the planning. No longer will DIT students be a disjointed mismatched bunch. Have you seen the plans? It’ll be the envy of the third level scene. There will be modern facilities for over 17,000 students, accommodation, research labs, student services, the works. It will of course mean that the students are no longer in their city centre campuses. Dublin city pubs are in mourning. Hollister: Ridiculously attractive shop assistants, darkened stores, spotlit clothes so there’s a certain attraction there. But you don’t have to, you know. I am sorry: If you are going to share a house or apartment with others and want to get away with living your life your way, be ready to say this as often as necessary. It is the only way to do things your way while managing to keep the peace. Practice in the mirror. Go-on. “Sorry I got fake tan on the dress I didn’t tell you I was borrowing.” “Sorry I woke you at 4am falling in the door with the Rag ball DJ.” “Sorry I told your new fella that you use athlete’s foot powder.” Job: If you have to get one, make sure it’s a job that lets you double job, as it were. You can read Voltaire while working as a security guard, but it’s not so easy if your job involves onions or sharp knives.

Facebook: What does your page say about you? Look at it critically, with the eye of a stranger. If you want to present a certain image to your college mates, make sure your social networking profiles match the persona. If you don’t want people to know that you spend all your free time playing fantasy games and that you “like” Justin Bieber’s fan page then get cracking and change that timeline before it’s too late. Make sure your Facebook identity doesn’t scupper your chances of making friends. Grangegorman: DIT is finally getting the all-in-one campus it wanted. This is a major

The Definitive Guide to Going to College 33

Kierkegaard: Also Foucault, Bourdieu, Kant, Benjamin; all names that you can freely drop in the pub for the duration of your tenure at college. In fact you should make a conscious effort to do so while you’re a student because while it’s okay, even encouraged in the college bar, you can never, never discuss such things after you graduate. Launderettes: You don’t have to bring your washing home to mother do you? Really? Launderettes aren’t that bad and offer an opportunity to meet some of the more domesticated types of the opposite sex. Seriously though, dragging that black sack of manky clothing to your Friday morning lecture is powerfully uncool. Mornings after: Sometimes after cramming, mostly after partying. How well can you fake that swagger across campus, trying to look like you’re on your way to your first lecture when in fact you’re still up from last night? Double espresso and toothpaste will be your friends. No: Know how you feel and trust your gut. It’s college. Lots of young adults drunk on freedom and high on life – it’s a potent mixture and you’re bound to be exposed to various dodgy situations and substances. Peer pressure is a secondary school game. Try and keep your head and forget what your mates are doing if you’re not comfortable. Being able to say no is actually pretty awesome. Orientation: It could be argued that this is the realm of the nerd, the swot and the over-earnest class rep candidate. However, it’s not at all a bad idea to partake in some of the how-to talks and tours in Freshers Week. There are lots of them and they are surprisingly well attended. You may reckon you’ll get by without bothering, but come November you’ll feel a lot less idiotic if you know how to order a book when you eventually darken the door of the library as your first assignment is due. Penniless: No summer jobs going


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

this year, student charges going up – what can we say? Student poverty is unfortunately hot right now. You can become really good at being poor though. Living on Tesco value beans on toast isn’t actually that bad. If you pop an egg on there you’ve actually got a massively nutritious meal. You’ll find there’s a curious satisfaction in managing to have a night out on a fiver or less. Be smart, shop around and see the advice on discount websites and use your coupons. Listen to your fellow students. Who’d shop in Dunnes when you’ve the Moore Street traders down the road? It’s entirely possible to exist on practically nothing and if you’re smart, you might be able to live a little too. One thing is certain, you’ll be broke for a long time. May as well get used to it. Quick eats: Get some recipes and learn how to cook. It’s cheaper, tastier and healthier than eating out. The key to quick eats is to forget the potato. Rice, pasta and noodles are what you want. Forget Jamie’s 30 minute meals. Most students worth their salt can whip up a bowl of pesto pasta with cheese in a third of that time. There’s a tonne of info online and is a good start. Also check out the BBC Good Food website. It’s always a winner. Results: We’ll say it again, it’s shockingly easy to forget why you’re in college. There is so much stuff to do and you really can start to

think that your membership of the Lit and Deb society is the be all and end all. Let’s be clear here. Results matter. Your degree matters. Believe it or not, your chances of getting first class honours can vary a lot between institutions. Eighteen per cent of DCU’s graduating students were awarded firsts between 2005 and 2010; 13 percent of NUIG’s students graduated with the same results; 54 percent of TCD students got a 2.1 compared with 34 percent of UL students. NUIM had the highest failure rate at almost five percent. That’s food for thought right there. Of course, it doesn’t really matter what college you go to if you’re willing to put in the work. Remembering that is the key. Scholarships: Do you eat, sleep and breathe a particular sport? Or are you just a brainbox who expects to get 10 zillion points? Well you could be in for a bit of cash. All colleges offer sports scholarships to talented athletes and players. If you haven’t checked out the possibilities, you should. They require a high standard. Generally you will need to have represented Ireland at international level. If you fit the bill, Google it and you’ll see what’s out there for you. If you’re a brainbox who got great results in the Leaving Cert, you too could be in for a windfall. More and more colleges are trying to attract high achievers with entrance scholarships. NUIG, for example, is offering Excellence Scholarships

worth €2,000 to students who get 560 points or more in the Leaving. They offer separate bursaries to high achieving medical students. UL has 40 scholarships, also worth €2,000 to offer to high achievers. DCU has €1,000 for students who get more than 500 points. These are just a taster of what’s out there. Check out your college of choice to see what’s on offer. Travel: So many opportunities between student summer work visas and study exchange programmes. You will never find it easier to work in the US than with a J1 visa, but don’t stop there. Look at the student run NGO Suas (, which sends students out to developing countries to work for the summer. There are teaching opportunities in China, Korea and Japan for graduates and USIT offers amazing volunteering placements too. Honestly, it will never be this easy again. Grab the opportunities. Live bravely. You won’t regret it. Underage: If you’re still 17 at the beginning of the college year, those months before the big 1-8 can really drag. Then, you finally reach that milestone and everyone suddenly decides that they want to go to the bar that’s over 21s. Girls have it easier than guys when it comes to bouncers. The key for women is to tone it down a little. Don’t try to look older. Women who really are overage don’t need to plaster on the make-up and generally avoid the four inch heels when popping in for a quick pint. Guys, just don’t give bouncers any reason to turn you away like wearing the wrong shoes or something like that. If they turn you away, don’t argue, they don’t deserve your business anyway. You’re better off not picking any fights. The one bouncer who takes a dislike to you is bound to be the one who’s on that door for the next 10 years. Walk with the confidence of a 23 year-old and you never know, they might just let you away with it. Vintage: Posh word for second hand but the vintage and charity shops can turn up some veritable

gems for the skint fashion fan. You have to be patient and willing to rummage. Under no circumstances should you attempt this manner of shopping with somebody who isn’t really into it. Nothing will ruin your chances of finding something special than a dear mate who drags you off for a mid-afternoon coffee or pint because they don’t understand. Stick with it and who knows what you might find? Welfare: Let’s face it, college life isn’t always a bed of roses. Things go wrong and if you’re away from home, exam stress and money troubles can all become too much. It happens to loads of people which is why all of the universities and IOTs have great student support services. If you don’t know where to go, call into your SU and they’ll direct you to the right person. A recent survey found that 34 per cent of students have considered dropping out due to stress and more than half, 54 per cent, have felt depressed due to the pressure of college. Student life is brilliant but it’s definitely not easy. If you find that it gets on top of you, seek out some support. The people you meet have seen it all before. Don’t be alone when you’re having a hard time. X-ams: Oh come on, nothing begins with ‘x’ and we can’t go without mentioning exams. As much as college life is massively important,

your degree is the reason you’re there. The good news is, nothing college can throw at you comes close to the drudgery that was the two Leaving Cert weeks. The bad news is that with nobody looking over your shoulder, the opportunities to procrastinate on the study front are many and frequent. Don’t be an idiot. Repeats ruin a summer. Loads of people end up cancelling or curtailing an amazing summer abroad because they have to go and re-sit exams. It’s completely not worth that. Remember that if you fail the re-sits, repeating a year is massively inconvenient and ridiculously expensive. Do yourself a favour and just pass the damn things first time round. Yes! Your response when new experiences and opportunities present themselves. (Apart from certain circumstances – see N) You are far more likely to regret the things you don’t do than the things you do. Go for it. Zoology: Because nothing else begins with z. UCD, TCD, NUIG, and UCC offer it as an option through science. You can study it at postgrad level as well. Science plus cute and fluffies has to be a winner right? By Gráinne Faller and Louise Holden This article first appeared in the Irish Times

The Definitive Guide to Going to College 35



Getting that place in college is a dream come true for you. Life is full of promise, learning, adventure and excitement, but where to begin?


efore fast forwarding to those lecture halls or great nights out with your fellow students, it is important to take care of the practical side of things and what’s more practical than making sure you have somewhere to eat, sleep and study?

Never book accommodation without thoroughly inspecting it. Here are some things you should bear in mind before finally making a decision:

Finding accommodation before you begin college is an exercise for which you will need all your wits and wiles. The race for that house, flat or digs starts around the middle of July but will be in full swing from the beginning of August.

● Are you looking for a bedsit, flat or house?

Deciding on the right type of accommodation for you is a good starting point. You could rent a flat or apartment or share a house. If you want meals provided or if you intend going home at weekends, you might consider digs or lodging with a family.


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

Bear the following in mind when checking out a new place:

● Will you be sharing? Sharing can be cheap, but make sure you’ll like living with your flatmates. ● Is it convenient in relation to College? If not, consider the cost of travel (check out bus routes, Dart lines, taxis and so on). ● Is there a late-night shop nearby? Where’s the nearest place to go when you have that midnight craving for cigarettes/chocolate/ beer?

● Is it in a reasonably safe area? Is there a safe place to put your bike or park your car? ● Check all electrical appliances are working (cooker, fridge, etc.) If any repairs need to be made, point this out to the landlord before you move in (otherwise, he’ll probably blame you, and take it out of your deposit). ● Are there enough electrical sockets? Do they work? ● Are fire extinguishers and fire escape routes adequate? ● Check ventilation, especially in the bathroom and kitchen. Do the windows open? ● What are the arrangements for rubbish disposal? ● Is there cable TV? Will you be charged for it if you don’t have a TV? ● Is there access to a garden? Do you really care? ● What are the arrangements for cleaning common areas e.g. halls? ● Are there any signs of dampness or mould? Check cupboards, walls, beds etc. ● Will it be easy to heat? It may seem warm now but what will it be like in December? ● How do you pay for electricity, gas, telephone etc.? Check the setting on the meters. The arrangements of how and when these payments are to be made must be set out in your rent-book. In some areas the ESB will not put the account in your name unless you have a one-year lease.

Before you move in, there are a few formalities to sort out. They’re here to make sure your landlord can’t kick you out on a whim, leaving you back where you started. READ CAREFULLY. They could save you from a night on the streets. The lease: Any tenancy agreement you make with your landlord is valid in law whether it is made verbally or in writing. Written agreements are of benefit to both sides. Always read the lease carefully. Never sign a 12-month lease if you only intend staying for the College year. If you break the lease you may be liable for damages as well as risk losing your deposit (unless you can find someone to take over the flat for you and the landlord agrees to that person). Legally, the tenant is entitled to the original copy of the lease and the landlord holds a copy so make sure this is the case. It is important that you understand exactly what is being agreed at the time of letting. You should be aware of what (if anything) is being included in the rent, for example, electricity, heating, cable/satellite TV etc. You should also be aware of the various conditions laid down which can cover many things (having parties, putting posters on walls etc.). Once you agree to take the house/flat under these conditions, you are bound by them. Do not sign a lease if you do not agree with the terms or if you do

not understand all of the terms. For more detailed information on tenancy rights you can consult the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 which is available at http://www. pub/0027/index.html RENT BOOK: Every tenant, paying for a house which includes an apartment, flat etc. is legally entitled to have a rent book supplied by the landlord. This applies to houses rented by private landlords as well as voluntary bodies, local authorities or employers, if a rent is payable. Basically, a rent book is a record of rent and other payments made to the landlord. However by law, a rent book must also contain other information related to the tenancy. This information must include: ● The name and address of the rented dwelling ● The name and address of the landlord and his agent if any ● The name of the tenant ● The terms of tenancy, whether it be six, nine or 12 months or whatever. ● The amount of rent and when and how it is to be paid ● The particulars of any other payments to be made to the landlord for services e.g. heating

● Is there a written lease? If so, get someone knowledgeable to read it before you sign it and request a copy once the landlord has signed it. ● How much is the deposit? ● Always get contact address/ phone no. for the landlord.

So you’ve found your new home...

The Definitive Guide to Going to College 37

or piped TV ● The amount and purpose of any deposit paid and the conditions under which it will be refunded ● An inventory of contents ● A statement of information which informs the tenant of their rights ● The date of commencement of tenancy Your landlord must enter the details of tenancy in the rent book. Any changes to this agreement must be entered into the rent book within one month of the change (e.g. a direct increase) If you pay your rent money directly to your landlord (or his agent) your landlord must then either: a) record the payment and sign for it in your rent book or b) give you a signed receipt which contains full details of the payments. If you pay by standing order or by bank giro, then your landlord must, within three months either: a) Record and sign for the payment in the rent book or b) give you a written statement of the payment.

Deposits: A deposit is usually paid to the landlord when agreement has been reached between the landlord and tenant. There is no set amount but it is usually equivalent one month’s rent. It is important that you, the tenant, realise that this deposit does not cover rent when you have given notice to the landlord or have been served notice to quit by the landlord. The landlord should refund the deposit when:

to Dos and don’ts when it comes n looking for college accommodatio ● Do try and bring a parent with you.

● Bring a good map including bus numbers with you.

● Do have a rent book, call into your Welfare Officer to get a free one.

● Don’t admit to being a student if possible.

● Do borrow a mobile if you don’t already have one: it will be invaluable. ● Do get a receipt for any money exchanged. Make absolutely sure you get this! ● Do read your rights as outlined below before dealing with a landlord.


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

● Don’t agree to pay out more than you know you will be able to continue to pay for the rest of the year, it will cripple you later. ● Don’t get too freaked out by all the accommodation crisis reports. Yes there is a shortage of places out there but no that does not mean you should settle for a hamster cage. No matter how frustrated you get don’t be

● Proper notice has been given (not less than four weeks in writing in the case of a ‘Periodic Tenancy’….one for which there is not an agreed finishing date); ● The keys have been returned; ● The property has been checked by the landlord regarding damages beyond the usual wear and tear; ● When all bills have been paid (all deductions should be supported by receipts).

disheartened: you will not end up sleeping on the streets. When you have found a place you are interested in, remember: the early bird catches the worm. Landlords work on a first come first served basis and generally have no loyalty to anyone except themselves. Few things will annoy you more than to see a nice apartment with YOU written all over it go to someone who arrived five minutes earlier. When you do view a place, keep a number of things in mind when giving it the once-over. Even though you might be desperate for a place to live, don’t take the first place you can get if it is not suitable. Moving house is a pain so try and get things right the first time.

Information Other sources of useful information on student accommodation in Ireland are available on the following websites: (from which some of the above material was sourced) www.accommodationforstudents. com/ireland Likewise, you will lose your deposit if any of the following happens: ● You don’t give proper notice or if you leave before the end of your lease tenancy agreement;

● You cause damage to the property over and above normal wear and tear; ● If you leave rent or bills unpaid. If you do not get your full deposit back because of repairs or replacement of items, ask to see all the relevant receipts. Rent increase: Rent increase is a confusing subject. If you’re living under a periodic tenancy agreement, your landlord can up the rent as long as he/she gives you four week’s rent. But if you have a written lease, your rent cannot be increased unless there’s provision in the agreement for it. If your landlord tries it, tell him that he’s breaking the law unless your contract allows it! Insurance: It is up to you to insure your own belongings. However, this can be very expensive and it pays to shop around.

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Privacy: Basically, this means you have the right not to be disturbed; your landlord is only allowed to enter with your permission. If the landlord needs to carry out repairs or to inspect the premises, it should be by prior arrangement. You are entitled to have overnight guests, unless specifically forbidden in the lease. (However this does not extend to another person moving in!) Standards: Since 1994 landlords have had a statutory duty to

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The Definitive Guide to Going to College 39

breakage in windows in any part of the building of which a tenant has exclusive use.

Fire Safety in flats and apartments The golden rules ● Fit smoke alarms and test them regularly ● Make a fire escape plan and practise it often ● Check for fire dangers in your home and correct them ● Carry out a ‘last thing at night’ routine Every night ● unplug all electrical appliances (except fridge and freezer) ● turn off all gas appliances ● put out candles and naked flames ● place a spark guard in front of open fires ● empty all ashtrays ● keep your way out completely clear ensure that the accommodation that they rent complies with certain minimum physical standards. These standards are set out in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 1993. In summary, they require a landlord to: ● ensure that the house is in a proper state of structural repair. ● provide a sink with hot and coldwater facilities in each dwelling. ● provide toilet and bath or shower facilities in each dwelling. ● provide toilet, bath or shower facilities, either in the flat itself or in a flat not more than one floor above or below the rented dwelling. Usually, there should be no more than two flats to each shower and toilet, but up to four flats may share one toilet or bath/


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

shower if each flat has only one tenant.

● close all doors

● provide adequate means for heating, for installing cooking equipment and for storing food.


● maintain installations for the supply of electricity or gas in good repair and safe working order. ● provide proper ventilation and lighting to each room. ● maintain common facilities for cooking, food storage, lighting and heating in good repair and safe working order. ● maintain common sinks, toilets, baths and showers and other common areas in good repair and a clean condition.

Prevent fire: ● smoke when you are in bed, tired, have consumed alcohol or on medication ● Leave the room when there are candles burning ● Leave the room when a chip or frying pan is on ● Overload electrical sockets – one socket, one plug ● Use electrical appliances that don’t work properly ● Run electrical appliances from a light socket

● provide a secure handrail for any common staircase.

● Use a heater or the cooker to dry clothes

The landlord is not responsible for anything the tenant is entitled to remove, or for repairing glass

● Stand too close to fires or heaters

Be careful when using portable electric, gas or oil heaters ● Don’t use heaters near furniture, curtains or beds. ● Don’t leave heaters on when you go to bed. ● Take care if pets are near heaters. ● Don’t use heaters to dry clothes.

Detect fire Smoke alarms give you an early warning of a fire. 82% of fires that kill people are in homes with no working smoke alarm. ● Your building should have a fire detection and alarm system. If there are no smoke alarms, ask your landlord to get some. It is essential that smoke alarms are fitted in the hall and landing of every home. However, it is preferable that a smoke alarm be

fitted in every room, and a heat alarm in the kitchen. ● Test your smoke alarms once a week. ● Change the batteries at least once a year, and immediately when you hear the warning beep. ● Every six months, vacuum and

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brush the casing to get rid of dust. A smoke alarm gives you an early warning of fire. If you hear the alarm, know what to do. Make sure to: ● Plan an evacuation drill with everyone living in your flat, house or apartment and practice it regularly.

● When practising your evacuation drill have an alternative exit in case your primary exit is blocked by fire. ● Have a meeting point in a safe place outside the accommodation ● All escape routes should be kept clear day and night ● Keep keys to doors and windows easily available.

Getting kicked out Unless you have security of tenure or a tenancy agreement that says otherwise a landlord can give you notice to leave at any time. However, this notice must be in writing and must be served at least four weeks in advance. Once notice to quit has expired your tenancy is legally over. If you don’t have an appointed day and have not reached an agreement with your landlord then the landlord may go to court for an eviction order, which, if granted will be carried out

by the sheriff. This could prove to be expensive for the tenant, as he/she might be liable for the landlord’s legal costs. An eviction by the landlord without a court order would however be unlawful and you should seek advice from the Students’ Union. A landlord is prohibited from seizing a tenant’s goods as a means of enforcing payment of rent due on a premises let solely as a dwelling (Section 19 of the Housing [Miscellaneous Provisions] Act, 1992). In other words, a landlord cannot keep your stuff and sell it off if you owe them money. If you discover that your landlord had taken something it is theft, not payment in kind.

Last resort If your landlord is not fulfilling his/ her legal obligations with regards to minimum standards and a rent book, they can be prosecuted

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and fined up to one €1000 plus an additional €100 penalty for every day of a continuing offence. The local authority is responsible for enforcing these legal requirements, so if you think that your landlord is breaking the law do get in touch with your local authority, the SU, or both.

College accommodation If you are reading this in October, which you probably are, it is too late to apply for accommodation in College. Normally the closing date for applications is sometime in early March. Don’t worry about missing the date – there will be notices up around College or alternatively you could drop into the Accommodations Office and get the information you need there. Contributed by Brenda Tallon and Trinity College Dublin

Are you a Student with a Disability? If you have questions about accessing disability supports and funding, disclosing your disability, information on your legal entitlements or how we can help you when you graduate contact us at | 01 7164396 | or follow us on: We also have a range of publications which may be of assistance to you.

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The Definitive Guide to Going to College

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g n i d n u f & s t n Gra Increased registration fees are an extra burden on students and their families looking to attend college in 2014


nce called the Student Service Charge, the newlynamed Student Contribution was increased to €2,750 in the 2014 Budget. The good news is that this amount is payable for one child per family. It must be paid in full before a tax rebate can be applied for. The net effect of the tax relief is that the student contribution is €1,600 for second and subsequent children in full time third-level education. In most colleges, the Student Contribution can be paid in installments. With other living expenses added, particularly for those students living away from home, the costs of being a third level student can soar. However, there is help available... In most colleges, the Student Contribution can be paid in instalments. With other living expenses added, particularly for those students living away from home, the costs of being a third level student can soar. However, there is help available…





Social life & miscellaneous


Monthly total


This total is a bit less if you’re still staying with the folks but if you haven’t already done so, now is a good time to sit down with your parents and talk about money. Many students work part-time jobs but this can have extremely negative results for your studies (not to mention your social life). Also, part-time jobs have become scarcer over the last few years and you should not count on the certainty of getting one. You may also be entitled to (a) grant or (b) financial assistance

Student Grant

is detailed information on the range of grants and funds for students in further and higher education on the website This website has details of the Fund for Students with Disabilities, the Student Assistance Fund and some third-level scholarships. Student grants are divided into two classes – maintenance grants and fee grants.

Maintenance grants A maintenance grant is a contribution towards the student’s living costs. Students who started or are starting courses from the academic year 2013/2014 onward do not qualify for a maintenance grant if they are on a Back to Education Allowance or VTOS allowance.

If you’re really stuck for cash you can see if you qualify for a grant from your local authority. There

A conservative monthly estimate of what you will need to live away from home looks something like this. Rent €300 (this may be higher in Dublin) Groceries & food




Books & course materials


The Definitive Guide to Going to College 43

Maintenance grants are available for approved courses below graduate level in Ireland and other EU states and for approved postgraduate courses in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Fee grants A fee grant can cover any of the following three elements: ● All or part of the student contribution

How student grants are administered Under the new Student Grant Scheme, local authorities will continue to deal with student grants in respect of: ● Universities ● Prescribed educational institutions in Ireland (such as colleges of education)

● Approved undergraduate courses in approved educational institutions in the EU ● Approved postgraduate courses in approved educational institutions in Northern Ireland These grants were previously handled under the Higher Education Grants Scheme. Vocational Education Committees (VECs) will continue to deal with

● Costs of essential field trips ● All or part of a student’s tuition fees (but not if covered by the Free Fees Scheme) In general, if you qualify for a maintenance grant you will qualify for all elements of the fee grant. However, you will not get the tuition element of a fee grant if you already qualify for free tuition under the Free Fees Schemes. You may qualify for a fee grant, but not a maintenance grant, if you are what is called a ‘tuition student’ under the Student Grant Scheme. A tuition student is someone who fulfils all the conditions for a student grant except for residence in the State, but who has been resident in an EEA state or Switzerland for three of the last five years. The members of the EEA (the European Economic Area) are the 27 members of the EU, along with Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Students doing Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses do not get fee grants, but if you qualify for a maintenance grant you will be exempt from the PLC participant contribution. Fee grants are available for approved courses below graduate level in Ireland and for approved postgraduate courses in Ireland and Northern Ireland. However, there are no fee grants for courses in other EU states. See ‘Approved courses and institutions’ for further detail.


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

Income limits for maintenance grant and full fee grant The family income limits for eligibility for a maintenance grant in 2013/2014 are set out below. These limits also qualify you in respect of the fee grant (if you are otherwise eligible). Number of Full dependent maintenance children

Part maintenance (75%)

Part Part maintenance maintenance (50%) (25%)

Fewer than 4





4 to 7





8 or more





Income limits for partial fee grant The family income limits for eligibility for a partial fee grant in 2013/2014 are set out below. Number of dependent children

50% tuition fees and 100% student contribution

50% student contribution only

Fewer than 4



4 to 7



8 or more



Other family members in college The reckonable income limits may be increased as follows for each additional family member who is pursuing a full-time course of at least one year’s duration: ● In full maintenance and partial fee grant categories by €4,980 where there are 2 such family members, €9,960 where there are 3 such family members and so on, by increments of €4,980. ● In part maintenance 75%, 50% and 25% categories by €4,815 where there are 2 such family members, €9,630 where there are 3 such family members and so on, by increments of €4,815. If you are an independent applicant, the family member taken into account is your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. If you are dependent on your parents, the family members taken into account are your parent(s) and their other dependent children.

grants for approved course in the following institutions: ● Approved Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) centres ● Institutes of Technology ● Qualifying for a student grant ● Maintenance grant To qualify for a maintenance grant, you must fulfil the conditions of the scheme as regards: ● Nationality and immigration status ● Residence ● Means You must also be attending an approved course in an approved institution – see ‘Approved courses and institutions’ below. There are detailed conditions about the level of the course you are attending; whether you have

r Fur the n atio inform nts is gra about le on availab tfinan studen

attended a course at the same level already; and whether the course represents progression from your previous studies.

student’ under the Student Grant Scheme.

In general, you will not get a grant for repeating a year or attending a course at a level that does not represent progression from what you have done before. However, ‘second chance students’ may be eligible for a grant. A ‘second chance student’ is someone who is aged over 23, did not successfully complete an earlier course and is returning to pursue an approved course after at least five years.

Fee grant If you qualify for a maintenance grant, you will qualify for all relevant elements of a fee grant. You may qualify for a fee grant, but not a maintenance grant, if you are what is called a ‘tuition

A tuition student is someone who fulfils all the conditions for a student grant except for residence in the State, but who has been resident in an EEA state or Switzerland for three of the last five years. The members of the EEA (the European Economic Area) are the 27 members of the EU, along with Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

Nationality and immigration status In order to get a student grant you must: ● Be a national of an EU member state or an EEA member state or Switzerland or ● Be a family member of one of the above, with permission to remain in the State as a family

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The Definitive Guide to Going to College 45

Irish national living here or be the dependent child of a person with such permission

Residence Since the academic year 2010/2011, you must have been legally resident in the State for 3 of the previous 5 years to qualify for a maintenance grant. However, if you are studying elsewhere in the EU for a recognised qualification, and you were resident in the State for 3 of the 5 years before starting that course, you satisfy this requirement.

member of such person under the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2006 and 2008 and EU Treaty rights provisions or

● Be eligible for subsidiary protection or have been granted leave to remain under the European Communities Regulations 2006 or

● Have refugee status or

● Have permission to remain following a determination not to make a deportation order or

● Have been granted humanitarian leave to remain in the State (foreign nationals granted leave to remain under the Irish Born Child scheme – IBC/05 are not eligible) or

● Have permission to remain in the State by virtue of marriage to, or civil partnership with, an

Rates Changes in grant rates are considered during the annual Budget process and become effective in January at the beginning of the financial year. Maintenance grant rates for 2013 Type

Non-adjacent rate

Adjacent rate

Special rate



Full Maintenance



Part maintenance (75%)



Part maintenance (50%)



Part maintenance (25%)



Adjacent and non-adjacent rates For students who live 45 kilometres or less from the college being attended, the adjacent rate of maintenance grant is payable. This rate applies to all students living within this distance, including all mature students, both dependent and independent. The non-adjacent rate applies to everyone else.


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

If you fulfill all the criteria for a maintenance grant except for the residence condition in the State, you may still qualify for a fee grant as a ‘tuition student’. Your parents or guardians, or you yourself if you are an independent mature candidate (see below) must have been ordinarily resident in the administrative area of the local authority from 1 October prior to applying for the grant.

Means test If you were ordinarily resident with your parents from October 1 of the year before the year of entry to the course, you are considered dependent on your parents and your income (if any) is assessed together with your parents’ income(s). An allowance is made for your earnings outside of termtime – up to €3,809 currently. Independent mature candidates are candidates aged over 23 who live separately from their parents from 1 October of the year before the year of entry to the course. If you are an independent student, you are assessed on your own income (and that of your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, if applicable). The means test for a student grant in 2013/2014 is based on your family’s income for the previous full tax year (2012). However, if you or your family have had a change of circumstances (which is likely to be permanent) since 31 December 2012, your changed circumstances

may be taken into account.

Special rates of grants for disadvantaged students Disadvantaged students who meet a number of conditions can qualify for a special rate of maintenance grant. Applicants must have qualified for the standard maintenance grant for the academic year 2013/2014 and total reckonable income in the tax year January to December 2012 must not be more than €22,703, net of Qualified Child Increases and standard exclusions. For students, including mature students, who are assessed on parent(s)/guardian’s income, their parent(s)/guardian must, on 31 December 2012, have been: ● Claiming long-term social welfare payments, or ● Claiming Family Income Supplement or ● Participating in designated programmes (for example, a SOLAS training programme). For students who are assessed on their own income, on 31 December 2012 the student must have been getting one of the above social welfare payments or participating in a designated programme.

How to apply Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), which has been nominated as the new single grant-awarding authority, now handles all new grant applications. All new grants must be applied for online. If you held a student grant prior to 2012/2013, and are continuing your studies on this course in the 2013-14 academic year, the renewal or re-assessment of your grant for 2013-14 will be carried out by your current local authority or VEC: you should not apply to SUSI.

Appealing a decision If you think that you have been unjustly refused a grant, you may

appeal. The Student Support Act 2011 provides for a new independent appeals board in relation to student grants.

duration taken in a publicly funded university or third-level institution in another EU member state, with the exception of the following:

It is the first such board for those seeking to appeal decisions made on grants and will be open to students who applied for consideration in this academic year.

● Courses in Colleges of Further and Higher Education (other than courses which are at Higher National Diploma level or higher)

Approved courses and institutions In general, the new Student Grant Scheme covers all the approved courses and institutions covered by the 4 schemes it replaced. Details of what each scheme covered are below.

Higher Education Grants Scheme The courses that were approved under the Higher Education Grants Scheme and now come under the Student Grant Scheme are: (a) Full-time undergraduate courses of not less than 2 years’ duration or full-time postgraduate courses of not less than one year’s duration taken in one of the approved institutions (b) Full-time undergraduate courses of not less than 2 years’

● Courses provided in a college that are offered in private commercial third-level colleges in the State and that are validated by that college ● Courses in colleges akin to private commercial colleges in Ireland (c) A full-time undergraduate course of a minimum duration of 1 year in one of the approved institutions which represents progression from a Level 7 (Ordinary Bachelor Degree or National Diploma) course to an add-on Level 8 (Honours Bachelor Degree) course.

Vocational Education Committees’ Scholarship Scheme The courses that were approved under the Vocational Education Committees’ Scholarship Scheme and now come under the Student Grant Scheme are:

(a) Full-time courses at the colleges of the National University of Ireland; Trinity College Dublin; Dublin City University; the University of Limerick; Queens University, Belfast or the University of Ulster where the student progresses to the university course by completing a course at Level 6 (National Certificate) or Level 7 (National Diploma) (b) Full-time approved undergraduate and postgraduate courses at approved institutions (c) BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND) courses in certain colleges of further education and colleges of further and higher education in Northern Ireland (d) Full-time approved undergraduate courses in thirdlevel institutions in EU member states, on the same basis as the Higher Education Grants Scheme, in the case of students who have been awarded a National Certificate or a National Diploma

Third Level Maintenance Grants Scheme for Trainees The Third Level Maintenance Grants Scheme for Trainees scheme has also been subsumed into the Student Grant Scheme. The approved courses for this element of the Student Grant Scheme are a series of one, two and three-year courses leading to qualifications at Level 6 (Higher Certificate) and at Level 7 (Ordinary Bachelor Degree) in Institutes of Technology. This element of the scheme is aimed at candidates requiring higher-level initial education and training to improve their employment prospects in line with the Government’s sectoral employment priorities and entering approved Middle Level Technician or Higher Technical Business Skills courses for the first time in the academic year in question. This element of the Student Grant Scheme is also open to mature candidates re-entering in order to complete such a course. Maintenance Grants Scheme for Students attending Post-Leaving Certificate Courses The Maintenance Grants Scheme for Students attending Post-Leaving Certificate Courses scheme has also been subsumed into the Student Grant Scheme. This element of the Student Grant


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

Scheme is open to candidates who are entering approved Post-Leaving Certificate courses for the first time in the academic year in question. Grants are available for full-time approved Post-Leaving Certificate courses of at least one year’s duration at approved Post-Leaving Certificate centres. The list of approved centres is available from your local VEC.

Student Assistance Fund The Student Assistance Fund provides financial assistance for full-time higher education students who are experiencing financial difficulties whilst attending college. Students can apply for Student Assistance to help them with either temporary or ongoing financial difficulties. The Student Assistance Fund provides a further source of funding for higher education students in addition to the Student Grant. Each year, the State allocates a certain amount of Student Assistance funding to all publicly funded higher education colleges based on the size of the college’s full-time student population. Students in need of financial support can then make an application in the college for assistance under the Fund. The Student Assistance Fund is not available in further education/ PLC colleges.

Student Budgeting


he key to successful budgeting is creating and sticking to a plan. Do this and you will avoid mounting debt. There are three key steps to take.

1 Assess your situation To understand your weekly cash flow you need to record all incomings and outgoings within a simple personal budget. Its format is not important – a pen and paper is all you need. The aim here is to give you a clear snapshot of your finances. I recommend you do this for a few weeks to take account of all bills. Take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns. On the left hand side detail your total income, e.g. student grant, allowance from your parents, part-time wages, savings available, etc. On the right hand side record all outgoings – you might consider doing this under the following headings: ● Household expenses ● Loans & debts ● Phone expenses ● Leisure ● Transport costs ● Miscellaneous If you don’t have exact details of your day-to-day expenses use an estimate. Try not to under or over estimate spending as this will skew your planning. Also you need to separate necessary costs from discretionary so you can identify the expenses that are unavoidable, for example rent.

2 Action Items Now you need to look at your sheet of paper and identify any areas where you may be able to cut back – do you eat out too

The cost of attending college has risen significantly over the last few years and this trend looks set to continue, putting major pressure on students.

much; are you paying too much for transport, or membership of a gym you don’t attend? Price comparison websites are useful at this stage; for example the National Consumer Agency’s website www. which allows you to compare your spend on groceries, TV and telecoms, mobiles and energy to the national average. Also there are some great tips at www.itsyourmoney. ie specifically for students. Some of the best opportunities for savings at the moment are in the following areas: ● Rent – shop around as there are deals available, you need to look at private rented accommodation versus college accommodation and also whether utilities are included. Always ask about hidden costs before you sign a lease. ● Groceries - Shop around and ‘Buy Local’. Only buy what you will use, look out for special offers and always ask if there is a student discount. Also check out the new initiative at UCC as an alternative. ● Transport – get a student travel card for discounts on local and national travel. ● Leisure – get involved with college societies and take advantage of student discount cards, nights out and events which are usually subsidised. Also sign up to group discount websites for cheap meals out and large discounts in your area.

● Tax – if you’ve worked during the summer, at home or abroad, be sure to claim your tax refund.

3 Monitor your budget It is important to monitor your budget regularly and update it if your circumstances change. If you are overspending you need to change your spending habits. Allocating time to prepare a budget is the first step in easing the burden of worry when it comes to planning your college year. Clive Aherne is the owner of TaxAssist Accountants in Cork and sponsors the ‘Buy Local’ campaign. This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner. When it comes to day-to-day costs, all colleges are definitely not the same, whether you’re talking about essentials such as accommodation and food or a pint in the on-campus bar.

The Definitive Guide to Going to College 49

Campus cost

comparison ost students are m r de on w No . ss ne si expensive bu Going to college is an ling cheap nights out, ng ra w at rt pe ex an e com e, but no stony broke. You will be w to get things for fre ho t ou g in ur fig d an c cooking dinner for 75 eap! are, life simply ain’t ch u yo t en ud pr w ho r te mat


osts vary of course. Dublin is more expensive than other parts of the country, but what about individual colleges? How do their students fare when looking for accommodation or buying dinner on campus? We decided to find out.

Campus shop essentials – bottle of Lucozade €1.55. Refill pad €1.10. Packet of Tayto 85c. Sandwich from €2.80 for chicken and stuffing to €3.90 for a wrap.

per week for your own room in an apartment. Renting a house will set you back between €70 and €100 per week each, depending on how many people are sharing.



On-campus accommodation – from €92 to €110 per week for a single room on campus. If you’re a Gaelgeoir, it’s possible to request accommodation with like minded people if you fancy living trí Ghaeilge.

Pint in the college bar €3 for Fosters.

On-campus accommodation – you’ll pay between €73 and €150 per week for college-owned accommodation. Some of this is on campus and the rest is nearby. Off-campus accommodation – shared house accommodation will set you back between €60 and €85 per week. €90 for a single room in a shared house is the maximum rent allowed by the college accommodation office. Utilities are usually extra. A pint in the college bar €3.10 for Fosters. Dinner on campus – €5 for Therese’s signature curry in Club Áras. There are other €5 meal deals available as well.

Off-campus accommodation – between €70 and €100 per week for a house share. Pint in the college bar €2.50 for a can of whatever beer is on special. Dinner on campus – it changes but a decent feed will set you back about €4. Campus shop essentials – bottle of Lucozade €1.19. Refill pad €1.50. Packet of Tayto 95c. Sandwich €2.99 (standard).

NUIG On-campus accommodation – there is accommodation that is college owned but not on-campus per se. Corrib Village is the oncampus complex. Rates go from €72 per week for a standard twin room to €125 per week for a double ensuite there. Off-campus accommodation – there is plenty of landlord-owned student accommodation in Galway. Prices vary but range from about €80 per week sharing or €103


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

Dinner on campus – currently €5 for a carvery lunch. This is expected to come down, possibly to €3.50. Campus shop essentials – bottle of Lucozade €1.40. Refill pad: €1. Packet of Tayto 65c. Sandwich currently €3.95 but they’re working with the supplier to provide a cheaper option for about €2.75 although the price has yet to be confirmed.

UL On-campus accommodation – lots of on-campus accommodation in UL. Plassey Village prices, including utilities, range from €3,483 to €3,999 per year. This works out at about €92 to €105 per week. Off-campus accommodation – rental properties in Castletroy are pretty reasonable. You will end up spending between €50 and €80 per week for a single room in a house close to college. Pint in the college bar €3.30. Dinner on campus – about €5. Campus shop essentials – bottle of Lucozade €1.45 Refill pad: €1.20 Packet of Tayto 70c Sandwich €3.30.

DCU On-campus accommodation – two sets of on-campus apartments (Larkfield and Hampstead) are available to school leavers. Prices range from €4,049 to €4,234 per annum depending on where you stay and whether you have a single or a superior room. Utilities are extra. Off-campus accommodation – between €80 and €100 per week will get you a single room in a house close by the college. Utilities are extra.

Off-campus accommodation How long is a piece of string? Because of TCD’s location, you can really choose to live anywhere along the bus, Dart or Luas lines as well as in the city centre. Expect to pay between €90 and €120 per week depending on whether you’re sharing a house in the suburbs or a city centre apartment. Pint in the college bar €3.50. Dinner on campus – €5.

Pint in the college bar €3.50 for all pints except Fosters and Olm which cost €3.

Campus shop essentials – bottle of Lucozade €1.50. Refill pad €1.50. Packet of Tayto 70c. Sandwich €3.50

Dinner on campus – the bar offers a cheeseburger and chips for €6.50. A 12-inch pizza will set you back a tenner.


Campus shop essentials – bottle of Lucozade €1.59. Refill pad €1.55. Packet of Tayto 75c. Sandwich €2.95 for a cheese salad, €3.95 for posher options.

DIT On-campus accommodation – no on-campus accommodation but it has block- booked various halls of residence for students. Off-campus accommodation – expect to pay between €75 and €180 per week depending on whether you’re sharing a house in the suburbs or a city centre apartment. Pint in the college bar €3.50€4.50. Dinner on campus – €4-€10 Campus shop essentials – bottle of Lucozade €1.55. Refill pad 99c. Packet of Tayto 65 cent Sandwich: €2.60.

TCD On-campus accommodation No oncampus accommodation for first year. The college accommodation is Trinity Hall and it’s near Rathmines, a bus or Luas ride away from college. Rooms start at €4,230 for the academic year and rise to €5,060 if you want a single en-suite room. Utilities are extra.

On-campus accommodation Between €2,700 and €4,500 per annum for student (not on campus) accommodation. Off-campus – accommodation Expect to pay about €85 per week for a single room in a shared house. Pint in the college bar – no bar on campus in CIT. Dinner on campus – €3.20 student special. Campus shop essentials – bottle of Lucozade €1.40. Refill pad 75c Packet of Tayto 70c. Sandwich €2.80 from the deli/€1.75 pre-pack

WIT On-campus accommodation – between €73 and €87 per week depending on whether you want a twin room or a single ensuite. Off-campus accommodation – A house share will cost around €200 per month if three people split the cost. Pint in the college bar €3.50. Dinner on campus – €5.75. Campus shop essentials – bottle of Lucozade €1.95. Refill pad €1 Packet of Tayto 70c. Sandwich €1.90. This article first appeared in the Irish Times

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Clubs & societies In secondary school, chances are you will have had the choice to play a sport for your school or become involved in various school activities. In college, your choice of clubs and societies to join is far more varied than that offered at second level.


ome of the most exciting features of University life are the extra-curricular activities that are on offer. The range of extra-curricular activities varies from college to college, but most Irish colleges have a huge number of clubs that their students can join. These clubs and societies enable students to become actively involved in University life. During the first week of term, the different student clubs and societies will generally hold an event where they try and get students to join. It is worth considering what types of activities you would like to be a member of while at college.

Sport Sports clubs, for instance, can range from college football, rugby, rowing, athletic or boxing teams (to name but a few) to more unusual sports such as kae-bo, extreme frisbee, trampoline-ing and even juggling. (Yes, it’s a sport!) The facilities for sports in college are usually funded by the college or the student’s union and are of a very high or professional standard.

Activities Aside from sports, the activities that you can become involved in vary: film and cinema societies,


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

drama clubs, comedy clubs, debating teams, college radio and many, many more. Campus societies usually cater for every interest. Throughout the college year the different clubs and societies on campus hold various socials for their members such as nights out, concerts and even trips away. There are two things worth keeping in mind when considering what clubs you wish to join: 1. Don’t join too many. It is better to commit fully to a small number of clubs rather than commit half-hearted to lots. 2. Whatever you put into college life, you’ll get back out of it. If you put plenty of energy into extra-curricular activities, you will reap the rewards. Clubs and extra-curricular activities are an essential part of college life. They are a great way to meet new people and make new friends, especially in first year. Most students find their involvement in student societies to be a very enjoyable and fulfilling part of college life. It is also worth noting that if you are an active member of a club in first year you could perhaps become a director of the club in your second

or third year in college, which would be invaluable to your experience of college, and not to mention to your CV! There are clubs to suit all interests and it can be extremely favourable to be involved in something that could possibly benefit your coursework. Business students could perhaps act as treasurer of a society, for instance. English students may find it helpful to be involved in a drama or debating society. Students of sports management or fitness courses might enjoy and benefit from being involved in a sport. Clubs and social activities are a hugely creditable and valuable aspect of college year. To not get involved would mean missing out on so much of the college experience and fun. Article contributed by Amy Nolan

Freshers’ Week The first week of college is the highlight of the year for many. It can be non-stop partying, meeting new people, and experiencing new things if you do it right!


reshers’ week is organised by the local university student union. The week is hectic and offers you the chance to join the many clubs and societies within the university. It usually provides a range of events from live concerts and society taster sessions to a formal ball. You can find out about the events planned in a variety of ways. Most universities and student unions now have websites with information about what’s on. There will be posters plastered all around the campus announcing events and information on your student union’s Facebook page. Make sure you keep your student ID card with you during Freshers’ Week – you will have been given this when you enrol. Without it you won’t get into events however hard you try.

One of the most attended events of Freshers’ Week is the fair. This is a gathering of the clubs and societies of the university. Often held in the student union building, the fair gives you the chance to meet and join clubs as diverse as political groups, music groups, football teams or debating societies. As well as providing a chance to learn about the university, Freshers’ Week allows students to become familiar with the representatives of their Students’ Union and to get to know the city or town which is home to the university. Live music is also common, as are a number of organised social gatherings, designed to allow new students to make friends and to get to know others doing the same course.

Alcohol is an inevitable part of student life, especially during Freshers’ Week. Most students partake (some more than others!) and, if you’re one of them, you’ll become all too aware of how awful hangovers can be. There is no cure, so drink sensibly…

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Work hard,

d r a h y a l p

The social aspects of college life...


s Jack Nicholson famously quoted in The Shining, ‘All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.’ (Or, in Jack’s case, a psychopathic killer.) College isn’t just about swotting for that A+ in Statistics -– you’d either go mad or become a bore – it’s also about building character through socialising. Here are just five of the many ways to book up your diary when you’re not in the library: 1. Clubs and Societies Tempted by those free lollies at the society fair? Those friendly smiles that greet you across the hall are not just offering the sweets of nostalgia, they are also providing you with the fruits of opportunity to go rock-climbing, learn new skills in Kung Fu, sing in the choir, and more. Talk to the club and society members at stalls and for just a couple of Euro, you can join the ones that appeal most. Make an effort to go to the initial meetings, and go to as many classes or training sessions as possible. It’s easy to get stuck into the rut of watching Home and Away at lunch instead of shaking your stuff at a Hip Hop class, but it’s worth going to classes. You will meet people with similar interests


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

to you and get lots of free trips, as well as a more creative mind or a toned body. 2. Student Protests University is one of the places in society where you are urged, and it is accepted, to rebel. When the Georg-August University in Germany decided to raise canteen prices by 10 cent, all the students were out marching in full force to resist the evils of college inflation. During the years of Noel Dempsey’s reign as Minister for Education, the students of NUI Maynooth protested against his threats to bring back college fees. Protesting brings people together with a common cause, and gives you plenty to rant about. When you’re wet, hungry and exhausted, you can pile into a bus to the pub and chat about the ills of society, meeting people who feel the same way. If you’re a sociology student, you will also have plenty to impress lecturers with. 3. Volunteering The volunteering network has become a lot more organised recently, with the launch of several websites and volunteering centres around the country. Many of these are linked with universities, and include such programmes as Big Brother Big Sister (mentoring for teenagers), helping out at local shelters, afterschool homework clubs and more.

Volunteering will enable you to have contact with people that may be disadvantaged, physically or mentally disabled, the elderly, and other different types of people. This kind of friendship is irreplaceable because it builds a relationship through trust, loyalty, and a passion to make a difference. Check out or call in to your Students’ Union to get in touch with groups. 4. International Student Nights From thanksgiving turkeys to tapas, international student nights can be the most fun ways to experience foreign cultures and meet people that have alternative viewpoints to you. You might enjoy sipping Arabic coffee or making Spanish omelettes for breakfast with your new mates. Look out for posters that advertise international student nights out, as they are usually more than willing to meet the ‘real’ Irish folks themselves. Cultural differences can provide the best talking points for meeting new people, as can attending food festivals or events where you get to sample the culture first-hand. And don’t forget - these people will come in very handy when you need somewhere to stay during your inter-railing trip across Europe. 5. Student Bar The last and most obvious choice for contact (often, of the very close kind) is the student bar. The drink is cheap, the craic is mighty, and the chances are you will end up at a house party

or nightclub after the bar reaches closing time. The bar itself has cheaper drinks than usual and often holds more student-oriented events, such as the Iron Stomach competition, Singer-Songwriter contest and other talent shows. Promotional events for drinks companies are sometimes held in the student bar too, so look out for freebies. Your finest hour might be meeting a mysterious French lady, or downing shots of Aftershock, depending on what kind of night it is. Or how about a quick game of pool during the day between tutorials? The student bar has it all. Article contributed by Niamh Madden

To some students, partying is an art-form. Stacking empty can upon can of Bavaria onto a coffee table may be one person’s idea of fun, and another’s idea of hell. Whether you’re an all-night party animal or just simply like to get involved and meet like-minded mates, college is one of the best ways to boost your social life.

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Student Welfare On any college campus, the Welfare Officer is the person you go to with all non-academic related concerns and queries.


ome difficulties you may encounter could be with your landlord, health concerns or financial problems. The Welfare Officer can help if you encounter any obstacles with aspects of college that aren’t directly connected with your studies.

go according to plan. Their job is to give information, put you in touch with counsellors and advisors, fight your fights against the government, against college or against the dodgy landlord who wants to take half your deposit for breaking one plate.

The transition from secondary school to college can be an exciting and invigorating experience, from joining societies and clubs and making new friends, to great parties, skipped lectures, bad essays, early mornings and late nights. So get involved and get active in college. Become a class rep with the Students’ Union, join a society or take up a new sport - it’s the best and easiest way to make new friends and truly experience what third level education has to offer you!

In short your Welfare Officer can give you advice about:

However, if you’re having a tough time in college and you’re not finding it easy to settle in, don’t worry; your Welfare Officer is available when things don’t really


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

● Accommodation problems ● Financial difficulties ● Health problems ● Range of college services ● Bullying or sexual harassment ● Accessing Health Board and Social Welfare Payments, Grants etc. ● Legal advice ● Welfare Loans ● Coping with bereavement ● Any other non-academic problem

The Welfare Officer in Trinity organises and runs campaigns throughout the year, such as Mental Health Week, SHAG (Sexual Health and Guidance Week), and Health and Sports Week. These weeks are to make sure that you are informed about your mental, physical and sexual health, so keep your eye out for these campaigns throughout the year! You may never need your Welfare Officer, but if you do, don’t hesitate to seek them out. Contributed by Úna Faulkner, Welfare Officer, Trinity College Dublin

Health issues In many colleges, there is a College Health Service, which is available to all registered students.


he service is currently free but the possibility of a small consultation fee being introduced has been bandied about. The Students’ Union will always fight to keep the service free. At the moment there are charges for some exceptions, such as urine, blood and pregnancy tests; travel vaccinations; medicals; eye tests and smear tests.

Medical cards A student is eligible if: ● He/she is financially independent of parents. They are then assessed on their own means. Contact the Department of Health or the Welfare Officer for information on income limits. If the student is paying rent then this is taken into consideration. ● Persons aged 16 to 25 who are dependent on their parents will only be entitled to a medical card if their parents hold a medical card. Hardship cases will be dealt with individually on merit so if you feel you need a medical card, apply for one.

● If a student is on a disability allowance and has no additional income besides, he/she would qualify for a medical card. Specific hardship e.g. asthma should be mentioned on the application form, which can be picked up in the College Health Centre. If you receive a medical card, notification of eligibility will be accompanied by a list of doctors, from which you must select one, whose centre of practice is within seven miles of where you live. The card entitles you to:

entitled to GP services free of charge. For more information contact the Health Centre in your college, the Local Area Health Board or the SU Welfare Officer. If you need help or advice in college there are plenty of people

● General practitioner (GP) treatment ● Free medicine ● Dental and optical benefits ● In-patient and Out-patient optical services ● Certain medical and surgical appliances All N.I. and GB Students are entitled to emergency GP and hospital services free of charge on production of a European Health Insurance Card. All E.U. students in possession of the card are also

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both in the Students’ Union and in college itself whose role it is to look after the non-academic side of student life. If you are in doubt as to who to go to with a particular problem, a useful starting point is your tutor.

Mental health Your mental health is an important part of you as a person. Mental health can be good and it can be bad and it can be affected by the things that happen in everyday life, the good stuff and the really bad stuff. Whatever your situation, there are things you can do to protect it and look after it. ● Accept yourself ● Stay in touch with friends ● Don’t binge drink ● Talk to someone who cares

Bullying Though bullying is something that we associate with the schoolyard, unfortunately it continues through college, and even into the workplace. Bullying is unwanted and unwelcome behaviour which is persistent and repeated, is offensive or threatening to the recipient, or which leaves the recipient isolated or vulnerable. Bullying can take many forms: ● Verbal: personal insults, demeaning remarks, humiliation in front of others, nicknames, ridicule, persistent picking on a person ‘as a joke’, threats ● Non-verbal or indirect: exclusion, hostile attitude, spreading malicious rumours ● Abuse of power: excessive criticism, withholding essential information ● Physical: aggressive behaviour, physical intimidation, unwelcome physical contact up to and including assault The effect of bullying on an individual can be extremely destructive and have some serious consequences. If you are being bullied:


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

● Get support: talk to someone you trust. Contact the Equality Officer, the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Rights Officer, the Welfare Officer, your tutor, or the student counselling service ● Make it clear to the perpetrator that the behaviour is unwelcome and unacceptable and ask them to stop ● Keep a record of incidents that occur, witnesses, and effects on you

Physical violence You don’t have to be married to be a battered woman and you don’t have to be married to seek help. Women’s Aid, which operates a number of refuges for women escaping physical, sexual or emotional abuse in the home have recently set up a telephone help line for anyone in this situation. They will be able to give you advice on the legal course of action available to you, such as how to get a Barring-Order, Protection Order etc. They will also be able to give you information

on the Battered Women’s Support Groups, Victims Support Groups and information on emergency accommodation. Although there is often a waiting list and women with children are given a priority, Women’s Aid will do its utmost to ensure that you are given every assistance if you want to get out of an abusive situation.

Alcohol When it comes to alcohol, Irish students are hit by the double stereotype – both the Irish and students having a reputation for enjoying a pint, or 10.

● Eat plenty before going out to drink ● Drink a glass of water between drinks in order to keep hydrated (this has the added benefit of reducing the possibility of a serious hangover) ● Don’t try to match others drink for drink ● Never leave your drink unattended ● Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know ● Don’t mix different types of drinks

Drugs It is likely that you will come across some form of illegal drugs during your time at college. Whatever your choices in that regard, it is highly recommended that you completely inform yourself of the effects of each of the different types of drugs out there.

This makes it more difficult to spot potential problems. A night out on the town should always be an enjoyable experience. For many students, the first year away from home can be their first real introduction to sociable drinking and invariably, as people find their own personal limits, there will be an occasion when too much drink will leave you sick, hungover, or both. However, if this or any of the following become a regular feature, it is time to take a serious look at controlling how much you drink: ● Suffering from blackouts or memory loss ● Getting into fights ● Drink driving ● Putting yourself at risk ● Going home with someone you didn’t previously know In order to control how much you are drinking and in order to prevent yourself from becoming excessively drunk, it is advisable to:

Remember that the consumption, possession and/or supply of illegal drugs all carry harsh penalties.

Personal safety Unfortunately, your new-found independence also brings an increased level of risk to your

personal safety. However, with a bit of common sense, you can greatly reduce your exposure to these risks. Here’s how: ● Never carry large sums of money on your person. When you receive your grant, rent, wages or any large sum of money, lodge it directly to your bank account. ● Always protect your PIN when withdrawing money from an ATM or paying for anything by debit card. Pay attention to anyone in close proximity at these times as they could be watching you enter your PIN over your shoulder. ● Never hitch-hike. While in the past, it was an acceptable form

The Chaplains A letter from Trinity College Chaplains There’s a lot more to college life than spending four years studying a particular academic discipline. University provides a unique opportunity to meet people from a wide variety of cultural and linguistic backgrounds and to explore a whole world of ideas and interests. Ultimately, it’s an invitation to share in the search for truth and greater understanding, which is central to the mission of all communities of learning. In Trinity College, and indeed many colleges throughout Ireland, the College Chaplains, representing the four main Christian Churches in Ireland, work as a team to foster such shared exploration and to promote in College the vision of a caring Christian community. Along with the other student services in College, the Chaplains are committed to improving the quality of student life.

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New volunteers are recruited at the start of first term so watch out for the posters. Applications are taken only from students who have spent a year or more in college and remember; if you are thinking of volunteering, please respect Niteline’s anonymity by not telling anyone. Niteline is: ● Confidential: The contents of a call remain strictly between the caller and the volunteer they speak to. ● Non-Judgemental: Volunteers are committed to providing an atmosphere that is free from moral judgements.

of transport for the impoverished student, it is no longer deemed safe. ● When travelling alone, do not leave your luggage unattended. Pay attention to your surroundings. ● At night time, do not walk home alone. It is preferable to use a taxi or other form of public transport, but if this isn’t possible, stick with friends. ● Make sure that someone knows your plans and what time you intend to be home.

Niteline Life as a student can sometimes be stressful and there can be multiple pressures both in and out of college. There are many support structures in place to help students through these difficulties and Niteline is one of the most popular and durable of these. What is Niteline? Niteline is a confidential, anonymous, non-directive, and non-judgemental listening service that is run by and for the students of UCD, Trinity, RCSI and NCAD. Niteline has been successfully running and expanding for over 10 years. During this time, the service has become a unique and valued part of life in college. The number


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

of calls to Niteline has increased annually throughout this period – a reflection of how the service has established itself as trusted and respected in student circles. Who runs Niteline? Niteline is run by student volunteers from UCD, Trinity and RCSI. Although generously supported by the Student’s Unions of UCD, Trinity and NCAD along with the board of RCSI, Niteline is independent of outside influence. This allows it to maintain the confidentiality and nonjudgemental atmosphere that are seen as its core values. Niteline volunteers represent a broad cross-section of the student community, male and female, from all four colleges. The fact that volunteers are students themselves means that they are in a position to understand the pressures of college life and to relate to the range of issues that students face. Before taking any calls, Niteline volunteers go through a rigorous screening and training programme based on the Samaritans model and run with the help of the College Counselling Services. Ongoing training and support for volunteers is also a priority.

● Anonymous: Callers are not required to give their names or any identifying details. Volunteers are required to remain very discreet about their involvement with Niteline. ● Non-Directive: Niteline volunteers will not pester you for information or offer you advice. The pace and content of a call is entirely up to the caller. We don’t have all the answers and won’t tell you what to do, but we do believe in the value of talking to someone who will listen and accept. So, if you ever feel that a listening ear would help, or if you just want information on something, remember that no problem is too big or too small and Niteline is only a phone call away.


College Library

Your college library will be one of the most important resources to help you in your studies at college.


ou should make it your business to familiarise yourself with the layout of the library and the services available at the earliest opportunity. Most college libraries will offer library orientation sessions at the beginning of the academic year and these are the best way of getting the lowdown on your college library from the staff working there.

Public Access Catalogue). This will usually be available through the library website and will help you to locate items within the library.

Some of the important bits to listen out for are:

Your library will also be the place where you will find academic journals, reference items like dictionaries and encyclopaedias and usually there will be copies of final year dissertations or theses.

● Borrowing rights: How many books are you entitled to borrow and for how long? What are the late return fees? ● How is the library organised? Most libraries will be organised on some form of numeric system. It’s a good idea to learn which sections will contain the subject areas you’ll be most interested in. ● How to find an item? The tool for this will be the OPAC (Online

The library website is likely to also have links to various electronic journals, databases and other resources that will help you in your research. Usually you can access this without needing to be in the library.

Library staff will be happy to help you locate any other information you require. If the material is not located in the local library they might be able to secure the item on inter library loan from another location or alternatively they might be able to give a letter of introduction allowing you to visit another library.

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Studying abroad Studying abroad provides the opportunity to travel and see the world while counting towards your college course credits at the same time.


tudying abroad allows you the opportunity to get longstay visas in countries you may not otherwise be allowed to reside in, giving you lots of time to immerse yourself in the culture, learn the language and educate yourself further. In some cases, students have to go abroad as their particular choice of course may not be open to them in Ireland, or the Irish points system is sometimes too prohibitive! Others opt to study abroad purely for the experience. Many universities, colleges and ITs operate a number of schemes


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

that enable students to travel and study abroad for a year of their degree programme. Indeed for some courses, it is compulsory to study at a foreign institution for part of the course. In these cases, funding is often available to help with the additional costs involved in living and studying in another country. Studying abroad offers you an opportunity to expand your knowledge and get a real feel for other countries. It is also a desirable thing to have on your CV when you are looking for

a job. Many companies now operate in a global market, with foreign travel an increasingly found prerequisite of many positions. Initial experience in this by studying abroad can be of great benefit when it comes to applying for that type of position. Employers are always impressed with candidates who are multiskilled and who avail of any opportunity that comes their way. What better skills to have than independence, travel experience and an interest in foreign cultures. If you do get the opportunity, take it, and enjoy the trip!



Within the HEA designated institutions sector, the proportion of new entrants that were aged 23+ (mature) increased to 9% of all new entrants in 2004/05.


he proportion within the Institute of Technology sector is likely to be higher. Given the importance of lifelong learning and employee upskilling, the proportion of mature students participating in higher education is set to grow further – a highly desirable trend from a policy perspective.

Who is a mature student? If you’re going back to school after a lapse of several years, or for the first time at third level, take heart! I did it, and I survived. Being older than your fellow students can offer advantages and can pose some challenges too. Strictly speaking, the definition of a mature student is someone who starts a degree aged 21 or over. Like traditional-aged students, ‘matures’ go to university for a variety of reasons. Some pursue a degree purely for its intrinsic interest; others have a particular vocational focus. It’s impossible to generalise about a ‘typical’ mature student because there’s no such thing!

For many, however, there is a general belief that a degree will improve their career opportunities. Every one of us has a unique set of career aspirations and concerns and it would be wrong to band students together, either by degree, discipline or age. Mature students decide to go into HE for a wide variety of reasons. Some want the skills that will enable them to change or further develop their career. Others may simply want to broaden their horizons and challenge themselves. Whatever the reason, there is plenty of advice available to help you make an informed decision, as well as support to see you through your time as a student. Because of the varied experience and skills that mature students bring with them, HE institutions are often flexible about entry requirements. Don’t automatically assume, because you don’t have formal qualifications, that you can’t apply to HE – talk to the

course provider and they will be able to advise on the best steps to take. Family commitments and work responsibilities are often an important issue for older students. This has been recognised by the Government and HE institutions, which provide special support for students with children and special circumstances. Mature students are welcomed and valued by all universities and colleges. The public and voluntary sectors have, generally speaking, shown a more positive approach to older graduates than the private sector. Certain career areas positively favour matures (e.g. social welfare, counselling) whilst certain career areas are seen as traditionally the prewserve of the young (e.g. marketing, advertising and high finance). My advice is to assume nothing. If you are very keen on a specific area of work, you owe it to yourself to apply, providing evidence of your suitability and displaying your enthusiasm.

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What do mature graduates do? It is possible, to some extent, to generalise about the ‘best’ employers for mature students – those which value experience, no matter where gained, or personal maturity, or those which have always had high upper age limits for recruitment. Many mature students have found that public sector employers have a very positive attitude towards mature graduates. Within this field, careers such as teaching and social work place particular value on their wider experience of life. This may also be utilised by careers such as law and personnel management, in both the public and private sectors. These also happen to be career areas which are readily available in the Greater Dublin area. At the other end of the scale, the least attractive career prospects have traditionally been in fields which are youth-oriented, stressful and highly competitive, such as advertising, marketing and high finance and those with long training requirements, such as actuaries and the medical fields.

Resources to help mature students: When you arrive on campus


The Definitive Guide to Going to College

or preferably before, join the Mature Student Society during freshers’ week. It’s a must! Most Universities have an active Mature Students Society on Campus. Membership acquaints you with others and you can share experiences and issues which may arise. Check out the careers and advice service, they offer a host of information on issues concerning mature students.

may undervalue this too – if its value is not pointed out to them!

Also, check out the ‘welcome days’ offered by universities, very useful for first time introductions and networking.

● Learn how to convey a positive image of yourself through application forms, CVs and at interviews

Presenting yourself to employers:

Accentuate the positive

Mature students may have a lot of advantages over younger students including greater confidence and maturity! They often have more focused aims and once in a career are less likely to want to change career again than a younger employee. They may have demonstrated the commitment to cope with a degree course whilst looking after a home and family at the same time – no mean feat! However, mature students often undervalue the experience they have to offer employers: whether this is two years of casual jobs that financed a trip around the world between school and university or 10 years of the administration, financial management, catering, nursing, teaching, childcare, counselling etc. that is commonly summed up as ‘being a housewife’. Employers


● Start your career planning early ● Be clear about what you have to offer (your skills, interests, values and personal qualities) ● Explore your options ● Make decisions in good time ● Try to gain useful work experience in your chosen career area

Many employers know a good thing when they see it! Older graduates often demonstrate valuable characteristics such as: ● Flexibility ● Stability ● Multi-tasking ● Balanced ● Determined ● Able to cope with pressure ● Possessing useful work experience Thinking about yourself positively but objectively can greatly influence how others perceive you and can prove to be a very useful approach when it comes to filling in application forms and attending interviews. You will look back, as I did, on a very worthwhile experience. Best wishes. Brendan J. O’ Neill BA. MA. H.Dip (ED)

B.J. O’Neill is a seasoned graduate having received a BA, an MA and consequently an H Dip from Trinity College Dublin. He entered Trinity as a mature student having had a successful career in local government administration in Northern Ireland prior to his arrival in Dublin for the commencement of his college years. He was 33 years of age when he initiated his education at Trinity. He is currently based in Dubai where he assists the Arabian-based multinational engineering industry on instructing their key staff in the dexterity of industrial English.

RCSI SCholaRShIpS To educaTe, nurTure and discover for The benefiT of human healTh


Aim High Medicine Scholarship Kiran Pathak Pharmacy Scholarship rcsi is committed to widening access to our undergraduate health science courses and to the creation of a socially inclusive learning environment for all. rcsi offers reduced points places and extra college supports to students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds and students with disabilities. cao courses included under rcsi’s access & disability programmes are medicine (rc001), Physiotherapy (rc004) and Pharmacy (rc005).

The aim high Medicine Scholarship and Kiran pathak pharmacy Scholarship provide financial support to school leavers who excel academically, are passionate about medicine or pharmacy as their career choice and who would otherwise be unable to attend third level education due to social disadvantage or financial constraints.

For further details please contact: RCSI Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Admissions and Reach Offices

Bring it on

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