If you have recently finished secondary school or you’re wondering what to do next, you could consider attending a Further Education College and taking a QQI (previously known as PLC or post leaving cert courses) course to gain some knowledge and skills in a certain area.
There is a wide range of these courses available in different fields of study. These types of courses are great for someone who is looking to gain skills in a specific area, or who is still trying to decide what sort of job or university degree could be best suited to them, or for people who may not have gotten enough points to go straight into a degree.
Did you know, that many Colleges of Further Education even do link courses? This means that you can study your first year with them in areas such as pre-law, pre-nursing and even pre-science, and once completed go straight into the second year of university.
These are just some of the many benefits of attending one of these colleges after so long in school. In this article let's explore some others.
Top 5 Reasons to Consider a Course at a College of Further Education
1 Take a Time Course as Part of Your Gap Year
If you don’t feel ready to enter into a college degree and you want to take a gap year, you could consider completing a QQI level 5 course. Taking a Level 5 course is a great way to explore an area of interest or a hobby that you may not want to pursue as a career.
You could complete a beauty course and run your own mobile beauty salon as a way of funding your college education. Or if sports are your passion you could complete a QQI in sports coaching or fitness. There are so many QQI level 5 and 6 courses available out there for you to explore – and you never know, your interest may even develop into your career! Because Further Education Colleges are just the first step.
This brings us to number 2.
2 It's Alternative Route to Higher Education
A Pre-university course offers students an alternative route to higher education. If you were unsuccessful in securing a place in college through CAO you can reapply using the QQI award you receive through your PLC education. Many of the courses on CAO reserve a quota of places for QQI applicants. You can apply to CAO and compete for these places using the QQI course.
3 It Gives You Peace of Mind
Many Leaving Cert students apply for QQI courses as a backup plan, in case they don’t get offered a course through CAO.
Further Education Colleges offer students a place before they sit the Leaving Cert. This place is usually offered on the condition that they meet a requirement such as passing five subjects. The security of having a conditional offer for a QQI course can alleviate some of the anxiety as students eagerly await Leaving Cert results and CAO offers.
4 It Gives You Time to Figure Out What's Right for You
You might be considering a course for higher education but without having an experience in the subject it could be daunting to make the commitment to a four-year course.
Why not get a taste of the subject through a Level 5 course. Many students attracted to subjects such as Law, Computers and Social Sciences, Apprenticeships may have little or no experience of study these areas. Taking a pre-university course enlightens students on what a degree in the subject would be like. A QQI course also gives you a great foundation for your degree.
5 GET A QUALIFICATION!
Maybe this should have been first, but finally and most importantly, QQI Level 5 and 6 courses are a great route to getting an industry-recognised qualification.
These courses adopt an integrated approach, focusing on technical knowledge, core skills and work experience. On successful completion of the course, students are well equipped to enter the workforce.
Why More People Should Consider Doing a PLC/QQI Course
When I did my leaving cert, it was a little over 10 years ago, the emphasis was solely on getting points to get in Higher Education, PLC's were only mentioned for those who were taking foundation level maths or English and therefore would definitely struggle to make the CAO points.
This led to me, and several of my classmates not meeting the CAO points and being faced with only 2 choices, repeat the leaving cert or look for a job which required no qualification.
We didn't have the security of a reserved spot in a PLC college. That is something I regret massively.
However, when I was old enough to attend as a mature student (In Ireland that is 23 for a Further education college, and your CAO points are no longer required to enrol in a QQI level 5 course) I went back to college to study entry-level Psychology. I worked my way up to being a personal well-being coach and now, I spend my days reminding all, that anything is possible once you keep trying,
More people should apply to Further Education College because, as a QQI student, I learnt so many things that I use in everyday life and you will too.
Some of the life skills I learned included:
- How to speak to new people without being self-conscious
- How to deliver information with both detail and clarity
- How to communicate and empathise with people from all different walks of life
- How to work as part of a group
- How to lead a group
- How to set goals
- How to manage my time properly
- How to appreciate my achievements
I really hope that if you do decide to attend a College of Further Education that your experience is as great as mine was.
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