Atlantic Technological University (ATU) has launched an innovative new student profiling programme, to help young people underrepresented in higher education.
The new programme could reduce college dropout rates and attract more early school leavers into third level. That’s according to Bridie Killoran, the careers expert behind the project, which will now be rolled out across Donegal, Sligo, Mayo and Galway.
Ms Killoran says the Strengths PATH project uses a highly effective new psychometric tool called ‘strengths profiling’, and is part of ATU’s My Career Path programme.
“We worked closely with youth groups to pilot this project, which has an engaging, interactive online format. It quickly became clear that many young people need support to understand their strengths and build their confidence. This helps them connect their strengths to a course they would enjoy,” Ms Killoran said.
Bridie is the Career & Learning Pathways and RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) Manager at ATU. She says the feedback they have received so far has been excellent.
“Young people reported that the strengths profile assessment enabled them to understand their unique strengths and how to connect them to a college course and career. They found the online platform easy to navigate, and remote access allowed them to concentrate on self-reflection.”
Coláiste Muire Máthair school in Galway took part in the piloting of the programme over the past two years. Deputy Principal, Clíona Ní Neill, says it allowed their students “to think about themselves and their abilities in a new light. They reported having increased self confidence in considering their study options into higher education.”
She says the school now looks forward to taking part in the new online programme. “It will be an excellent resource for teachers and guidance counsellors, as they support students considering their future career options.”
Bridie Killoran says the programme was developed to support those helping young people to navigate the world of higher education and employment. This includes youth liaison officers, access officers, community organisations and schools. Bridie says the programme was designed so that advisors could adapt it to suit the specific needs of each group they work with.
Ms Killoran believes that the Strengths PATH programme will have a positive impact in helping students identify the right career options and courses for them.
“We also believe this programme can help early school leavers to return to education. If they have low self-esteem, they may have little awareness of their strengths. This tool has the potential to be a game-changer for them.”
“We now want to work with schools and youth groups to roll this programme out where it’s needed,” says Ms Killoran.
The Strengths PATH programme is part of ATU’s broader Higher Education 4.0 project, which has improving access to Higher Education as one of its aims. Higher Education 4.0 is led by Professor Jacqueline McCormack, Vice President for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion and Online Development with ATU. Professor McCormack says they are “delighted to be launching the Strengths PATH Programme. The programme will support a cohort of younger learners in discovering their strengths and a pathway to higher education on a course that is the right fit for them.
“I would like to thank all the youth groups who collaborated with the mycareerpath.ie team in bringing this programme to fruition. We look forward to working with them again in the future as Atlantic Technological University continues to put diversity and inclusion at the heart of everything we do.”
Interested groups can contact the Strengths PATH Programme at firstname.lastname@example.org.