Coursing through

We only ever hear one side.

According to the Sunday Independent “DCU has the second best completion rate among all Irish colleges” and “DCU graduates get the second highest number of Firsts or 2:1s in Ireland”. However what about the other side of these results?

Thousands of students drop out or change course every year. Some make the decision to quit before Reading Week has passed, while others wait until they are a little further through the course before realising it’s not for them.

Méadbh Keenan’s experience was the latter. Two years into DCU’s Applied Language and Intercultural Studies degree programme, she decided she had made the wrong choice. “I applied to study French and Spanish because I always loved languages. I thought it would mean speaking the languages all the time, but it was nothing like that at all. As I progressed through ALIS I just knew it wasn’t right for me. I started losing interest; I felt I wasn’t learning to speak the languages I’d chosen.”

As she wanted to stay in DCU, Méadbh researched courses here that would be more suitable for her. She reverted to a course that had first appealed to her when applying for college. “Health and Society was a new course back then. It sounded almost perfect for me; I loved biology and helping others so this is definitely a better fit for me.”

Emily Bodkin, unlike Méadbh, stayed with her initial course, crediting it now as one of the best things she had ever done. Emily, a Journalism student, felt that the modules covered in the first year of her course didn’t relate to the career she wanted.

She hoped, however, for a different second year. “The main reason I stayed in the course was that I knew in second year the work would be a lot more interactive and focused on journalism. In first year we did all essay work, so it felt more like a general arts degree.”

At times the lack of job prospects makes her doubt her choice, but Emily is confident she has the skills to find work after college.

Both students credit the standard of teaching in DCU as one of the main reasons for the high completion rate. “Obviously students have to put in a lot of work to get the degrees they do, but I’ve never had a poor lecturer in any of the courses I’ve done here,” said Méadbh. “They are so dedicated and approachable, which just makes it easier to succeed. There’s no excuse not to do well, or at least to try.”

Emily believes students who go to DCU know they will be taught by good lecturers. She also praises the INTRA work placement programme as one of the most rewarding things about a degree in DCU “DCU has such strong links with so many organisations, so many students have great job prospects before even being handed their degree”.

Aoife Bennett

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