by Daragh Frawley
THE move to third level education can be daunting, especially when it comes to picking the course that is right for you.
But there’s help at hand for students in the Mid-West region when the Slingshot Academy hosts its first programme in the University of Limerick on Wednesday, March 9.
Over the course of the day-long session, 15-19 year olds will have panel discussions, presentations and workshops in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths from college students attending both UL and LIT.
Co-Founder of the Slingshot Academy, Patrick Guiney was one of many students who entered third level education without doing the research.
‘I went into to it a bit blind’ he explains. ‘You only learn so much from an open day or a website, but I should really have spoken to students who were studying the course or who’d been through it.
I didn’t enjoy the first semester for a combination of reasons; the variety of modules, the size of classes, and the travel to the campus were just a few things I didn’t fully take into account before I made my choice”.
He came close to dropping out of his Arts course, but after a consultation within, he completed a postgraduate degree at UCD’s Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.
His college experience then led him to set up the charitable organisation to help students make the right choice in terms of third level choices.
“There isn’t really a solid knowledge bridge from second to third level. That’s especially true if you don’t have an older brother or sister at college,” he said.
“People often end up choosing courses for a variety of reasons – such as prestige or job availability – without thoroughly investigating whether they are suited to the subject area, and as a result struggle or become disinterested.
“We offer a programme whereby college students speak and mentor 15 – 19 year olds on third-level options and making the right choice in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) subjects.
“It is organised entirely by college students and recent graduates and was created to give young people a better understanding of college, and to improve accessibility to students who need it the most”, he explained.
“Some areas in Ireland have only 22 per cent of their students going onto college, so a big focus of the the academy’s work is providing support to students from disadvantaged areas who are less likely to have family members at third level.
In addition, there is a focus on alternatives to higher education for those who may struggle with learning in a classroom.
Slingshot started in Dublin last year and is now located in Cork and Galway, and will be launched in Limerick on March 9.
“By April, we will have an expected 4,000 young people taking part in Slingshot’s day-long programmes”, Patrick Guiney predicted.
For further information on the programme visit www.slingshot.ie.