A new initiative aims to change the way secondary school students think about their future education and career prospects.
The Student Slingshot Academy will give transition year pupils the chance to meet with and learn from those studying at third level — giving them insights into specialist areas such as medicine, law, journalism, finance, language, and art.
“Around 55,000 students sit the Leaving Certificate every year. Of those, 70% of them go on to further education. With the way the CAO is structured, the demand on points can make students think some courses are better or worse than others based on how many points they have,” said Patrick Guiney, the founder of Student Slingshot.
“Through a mentoring and support programme, led by some exceptional college students, we want to ensure that students pick the right course for them and bring their focus back to what they want to do, not what the CAO dictates.”
So far, more than 600 students have signed up for the project, which debuts this Sunday in Temple Bar, Dublin, and continues on April 19 and May 3. Places are limited to 60 per date, with tickets allocated on a lottery basis.
“The reason the numbers are so small is that we want each student to get the best value from the day as possible,” said Mr Guiney.
“A smaller number is also easier to manage from an event management point of view but we’ll see how this one goes and hopefully we will be able to build on this.”
The students who manage to secure a place will choose three 30-minute taster classes in subjects like law, computer programming, entrepreneurship, and engineering. Application is free but tickets cost €15.
They then take part in an interactive lunch, forging bonds with their mentors who they are encouraged to keep in contact with, followed by a panel discussion.
“The whole point of the panel is to show students if they don’t get it right the first time, there are plenty of other doors they can go through,” said Mr Guiney. “The people on the panel will explain their own journeys, that maybe they didn’t necessarily get their first choice in the CAO, but eventually found their calling through following their interests, travelling, things like that.”
The project is supported by Schooldays, Spunout, the Digital Youth Council, and the Irish Second Level Students’ Union, among others.
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