Pick a course you enjoy, that's how you succeed
The demand for science and computing reflects the thrilling prospects, writes Clive Williams
A University place is something of which to be proud, which can be thought of as not only a route to a satisfying and sustainable job or career, but also the next stage in one's intellectual and personal development.
For the first time, students will be expected to be self-driven in their studies, albeit led by committed, experience lecturers and professors who prepare them for the long term, by teaching not only the knowledge of an academic discipline, but also other skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, time management, written and oral presentations, entrepreneurship and numerical ability, which industry increasingly asks to be taught as part of a third-level education.
Degree courses in so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines, as well as being inherently interesting and satisfying, are also good vehicles for a general and rounded education. One is never chained to a particular career or job by choosing a particular degree option at the age of 18; a host of job opportunities exist.
Remember, too, that it is possible to change midstream. The range of options within STEM courses is remarkably broad. Science is about discovery. At third level you can begin with a foundation in fundamental sciences and then specialise in areas as diverse as biochemistry, botany, chemistry, environmental sciences, genetics, geography, geology, microbiology, molecular medicine, neuroscience, physics, physiology and zoology. Alternatively, you may choose more specialised degree courses. In engineering, you can specialise in subjects such as structural, geotechnical, environmental, transport or automotive engineering; bioengineering, computing, electronic, electrical or neural engineering - and more.
Computer science is a gateway to immense possibilities. If you can see yourself in a leading team of software developers working on computer games, internet software of medical technologies -- or as a researcher developing innovative technology that will change the way we use computers -- then this could be for you.
Most university courses are taught in a research-informed manner, in that the university teachers are up-to-date on new knowledge, issues, advances, and policies due to their (hopefully) international-standard research. So, my advice is to pick a STEM course -- one which you enjoy, as you'll do best with subjects you enjoy. I myself chose to study biochemistry, having been inspired by an enthusiastic biology teacher. Don't worry about it being a straitjacket that blocks off some careers, because that isn't true. You may follow the paths of some recent graduates of Trinity, such as one who graduated in maths and has a job in London as an actuary; a graduate in biochemistry now working in management and services for Abbott Diagnostics in Sligo; or physics and electronic engineering graduates taken on by Analogue Devices, Xilinx, O2, Vodafone, Ericsson, Hewlett Packard and Intel.
Alternatively, you may continue after your degree with further training or research, adding to your skills and marketability.