Confidence may be a little shaky as the young person moves from the relatively cosiness of home and secondary school to the much broader college environment. Often these doubts disappear as they settle in but if doubts persist it's a good idea for the new student to chat to someone on campus as a first step.
It is important to distinguish between being in the wrong course and being unhappy with just some elements of the course. However, after an initial settling in period and the student still feels that they are in the wrong course they should talk to a College Student Advisor as there are academic and financial implications to changing a course.
If you feel your son/daughter has made a wrong choice encourage them to keep attending while they talk to someone on campus to decide what the best next step is.
It is useful to evaluate the current course under the following:
It may be possible to remain on the course and take additional modules in areas of interest or look at graduate conversion courses in Business, Education etc.
- Course Content: is it different to what was expected; too difficult or easy? Is it relevant to Career choice?
- Career Prospects: what are the employability skills attached to the course? Is it at the right accreditation?
- Logistics: there may be issues over travel, time-table, part-time job
- Learning and assessment methods: are these causing any anxiety?
- Finance: this needs to be considered carefully so sit down and discuss these
- Personal or health issues: colleges offer confidential, professional and practical counselling that can help a young person think through and cope with some personal and health issues
If a course change is needed the next important thing to do is understand the Options and Financial implications of making the change.
Making mistakes, even though you may learn a lot from them, can be very expensive in the short-term. For example, deciding to drop out of a third level course to start a new course the following academic year has serious financial consequences. You may have to pay the registration charges again.
Each college receives a minimum of €4,000 to €5,000 from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills (DES) for each student. The HEA rules state clearly that you can only receive this payment once for every year of your approved course.
|The HEA rules state clearly that you can only receive funding support once for every year of your approved course.
If you change courses and repeat first year in college you will pay the full cost for that repeat year – a total of approx. €8,000. This rule applies even if you have paid for your own fees in a private college because such fees are deductible against your parent’s tax bill at the standard rate.
(1) Internal College Transfer
If it is early enough in the year it may be possible to transfer between courses. This usually works best if the transfer is between two similar courses, subject or programme areas. However, beyond certain dates colleges can't facilitate this. It may not cost anything to do this in the first few weeks but if your son/daughter is eligible for a student grant the decision to transfer may affect their grant entitlements so it is really important to check this out.
If a student withdraws from a programme for which free fees are claimed they most likely will be charged for all tuition fees if they decide to attend another 3rd level programme so establish the exact fee liability involved.
(2) Leave course and re apply through CAO to preferred course for following September
This option suits a student who has definitely made up their mind about leaving their current course and applying to a new one for September.
In the meantime, they could consider paid or voluntary work, internships, sports, music and travelling. Check in with the each college in terms of costs.
(3) Complete the year and reapply before February or July CAO Deadline for another 1st year college place
Some students decide to persevere with a course through to the end of the first year even though they have already decided on a change.
If they complete exams - they will build up academic credits (ECTS). The year of study will help maintain academic focus and could be useful to their career down the line. If they plan to complete the year and apply to year two they can do this directly with the college.
Note: if applying through CAO to enter a course at 1st year level: Full tuition fees will be charged for the year. Check out www.studentfinance.ie for further information.
(4) Continue with the course and review later in the Semester
This option gives the student a chance to settle in and get a better feel for the programme and research alternatives.
Be mindful though that costs of delaying a decision can vary so again check this out.
(5) Re-Applying through CAO the following year
Frequently the student has a specific course in mind as they decide to leave an existing programme. If the course is outside the current college then the student will need to reapply through CAO before 1st February deadline. If the student is still registered in the college there is a special late application date of 22nd July. (apart from restricted courses)
If your son or daughter is still uncertain what next step to take they could:
-Make a appointment to speak to the college student support services.
-Make an appointment with a Guidance Counsellor: list available here