This week, Career Guidance Counsellor Rory White shares information to help students make a success of subject choices.
Although most 3rd Year students have just completed their mock exams and are preparing for the real thing in June, attention now also needs to turn to some very important decisions regarding preparation for entering into Senior Cycle.
There are lots of factors to consider so it is important that students (and parents) do their research in order to make an informed decision.
Firstly, students need to decide which programme they intend to study after 3rd Year. Depending on the programmes your school offers, there are three options here.
- The traditional Leaving Certificate (LC)
- The Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA)
More info here- www.curriculumonline.ie/Senior-cycle/LCA
- Transition Year (TY)
If a student is opting for the TY programme, their subject choice process will be delayed until the following year.
If a student is opting for the LCA programme, their subject choice is set by the school.
The focus of this article therefore will be on the choices facing students entering into the LC programme next year.
Three key questions to ask yourself in relation to subject choice are-
- What subjects do I like?
- What subjects am I good at?
- What subjects will I need for the college course I am interested in?
How many subjects do I have to do for my Leaving Cert?
Typically, most students will study seven subjects for their Leaving Certificate, three Core and four Choice. The three core subjects are English, Maths and Gaeilge (unless exempt).
What levels can I study these subjects at?
Unlike in the new Junior Cycle where all subjects apart from the three core subjects are studied at Common Level, subjects in the Leaving Cert can be studied at Higher and Ordinary Level.
The only exceptions here are-
- Maths and Gaeilge can also be studied at Foundation Level.
- LCVP Link Modules is studied at Common Level.
Are there any new subjects that I can study for my Leaving Cert?
Plenty! There are a large (and growing) number of subjects offered for Leaving Certificate, however not all schools offer all subjects.
Several of the subjects that you studied for your Junior Cycle will split to form new subjects. Science breaks into Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Agricultural Science. Business Studies breaks into Business, Accounting and Economics. Woodwork evolves into Construction Studies, Metalwork into Engineering and Tech Graphics into Design and Communication Graphics.
New subjects added in recent years that some schools have been piloting are Physical Education, Computer Science and Politics & Society. There are other niche subjects and a raft of languages that can also be studied.
Are all Leaving Cert subjects worth the same amount of CAO points for college?
Every subject carries the same amount of points with the one notable exception of Higher Level Maths. Students who achieve a grade of H6 and above will gain an extra 25 CAO points.
Should I take another language other than Irish and English?
This is commonly referred to as a Third language, typically Spanish, French or German (Though there are many others). A third language is a requirement for a large number of courses in the NUI colleges but not for courses in Engineering, Science and Nursing. A third language is not a requirement for entry onto most courses in the Institutes of Technology, DCU and UL apart from those which involve the study of that language.
An interesting fact for students born in Northern Ireland or elsewhere in the UK is that Gaeilge will suffice for the language requirement.
A third language is also a requirement for entry into a cadetship with the Army, Navy and Air Corps.
There are always exceptions to the rule so it is best to check with the course provider or your Guidance Counsellor.
Should I take a science subject?
Having a lab science subject is a requirement for entry onto some courses. Most healthcare related courses require a science subject e.g. Nursing, Physiotherapy. Some medical courses require two science subjects e.g. Medicine and Dentistry. Most Engineering courses in the NUI colleges require a science subject also.
Is there any combination of subjects that work well together?
Some subjects are closely related and can help to ease the burden and cut down on some study when preparing for your Leaving Certificate. Biology and Home Economics overlap at times, Physics and Applied Maths have a strong correlation while Link Modules and Business are also good friends.
Remember the three key questions above.
Do your research on the new subjects as they might be different than you imagine them to be.
Keep as many options open to yourself as possible for college. Choosing a broad range of subjects such as including a language and a science subject is advisable.
Ask your Guidance Counsellor if you have any questions.
Do not choose a subject just because your friend is doing it!
Rory has been a Guidance Counsellor at Finn Valley College for the past 10 years and is a member of the Donegal Branch of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors.
Applying for college or changing careers is one of the most important and exciting decisions someone can make, and Rory will be here to offer advice and top tips on the many options that are available.Tags: