Despite studying hard to secure a college place, over 6,000 students drop out of third level in the first year, incurring huge financial and personal loss. The first semester and how quickly they settle into the college environment has a major impact on finishing off the year. This year due to COVID-19 has been a vastly different college experience for the new intake of students. Normally when students have a genuine interest in their course, they look forward to the challenge and enjoy attending classes and learning more about the subject matter. When they are on a suitable course, and ensuring they regularly attend classes and lectures, they normally settle in extremely well and will overcome obstacles they encounter.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and if a student finds that after allowing for an adequate settling-in period, they have no interest in what they are studying and the course is not at all what they had expected, they need to reconsider the choice they have made. If a student does not like their college course, the normal pattern is that they start skipping classes, not keeping up with assignments and very quickly fall behind with the work, resulting in a potential drop out or failure. This is what should be avoided if possible.
Students should firstly explain their situation and how they are feeling to their Head of Course/Department or College Admissions Team. Colleges will do their best to retain students and may try to arrange a transfer to another more suitable course that they offer. If this is not possible, students should also look at possible transfers to other colleges that they had listed on their CAO application, even for semester 2.
Unfortunately, what is happening in a lot of cases is that a student feels embarrassed/ashamed that having secured a college place, they could not settle in and they just stop attending classes without deregistering officially. By not following the official route, a student can forfeit fees paid/student grant for that year. If a student withdraws from a course before 31st October (normally) of an academic year, then they will receive almost a full refund and/or it will have no impact on SUSI grants going forward. This is a particularly important fact to keep in mind so that students will not be disadvantaged financially going forward applying for future courses.
If deciding to leave their third-level course; students should also have an exit plan in mind. They should research the course offerings in the FET Further Education and Training sector as they are continuous intake all year long and entry is via direct entry.