Student Voices: 7 Reasons to Take a Stepping Stone Approach to Your Education

Student Voices: 7 Reasons to Take a Stepping Stone Approach to Your Education

Kate McCormack, Higher Certificate in Business

I enrolled in the Higher Certificate in Business (which is an NFQ Level 6 course) because I wasn’t sure which aspect of business I wanted to specialise in. For some people, taking a stepping stone approach to their education is more feasible than a straight four-year degree. The Higher Certificate in Business is a two-year commitment from which you can choose to do an add-on year, giving you an ordinary degree or two additional add-on years, giving you a Level 8 honours degree. You’ll still achieve the same end: a quality education. With that said, here are seven reasons why one might consider taking a stepping stone approach to their education.

Skill Development

I’ve learned more in one year than I could have ever possibly imagined through this NFQ Level 6 programme, including how to work in a team. I have also advanced my decision-making skills and learned how to think strategically, something that will be of huge benefit to me as I move ahead in my career.

Open up Options

Given that the Higher Certificate in Business is a two-year programme, it gave me time to consider what else was on offer at Athlone Institute of Technology. There are so many courses, ranging from Level 6 to Level 10 PhD, that I would never have considered had I not enrolled in this course and made friends from other disciplines. This new perspective has really helped me open my mind to the possibilities and opportunities on offer to me.

Build your Network

Building your network is so important. The people that are your friends and lecturers today are the contacts that could help get you a job tomorrow. By enrolling in my particular course, I got to meet a lot of people from a wide range of backgrounds. This has made me more confident as a person and has helped shape the career I see myself eventually ending up in.

Gain Experience

The Higher Certificate in Business is what you could describe as a broad church and covers a wide variety of modules. This has given me an excellent grounding in everything from marketing to maths which in turn has helped me decide on the area I would like to specialise in. (Right now, I’m considering marketing!) I also got the opportunity to go on placement which will add weight to my CV come graduation and has given me a clearer picture of my chosen career path.

Subject Specialisation

My lecturers have given me a huge amount of guidance regarding my different progression options. There are myriad different pathways I can choose from the Higher Certificate in Business, including Accounting and Digital Marketing. This is something I wasn’t aware of when I was in secondary school. I’m really glad I gave myself the time to explore my options without jumping headfirst into a four-year degree.

Life After the Leaving Certificate

While important, the Leaving Cert isn’t the be all end all of life. People are so preoccupied with achieving high points that they sometimes forget to apply for courses that they actually want to study. On the flip side of this, is the notion that if you don’t get 600 points, you’ll never get anywhere in life and I’m here to tell you that that is simply not true. Everyone is on their own journey, it’s not a race.

So, What Happens Next?

Even though I began my third level educational journey at Level 6, I’ll still be able to graduate at the same times are my friends who did a straight four year honours. I’ll also have an equal honours degree if I continue my study. What I enjoyed most about the stepping stone approach to achieving my degree is that at the end of two years, I have a qualification that I can take with me and use right there if I so choose.

Finally, irrespective of what educational pathway you’re intending on pursuing, Athlone Institute of Technology offers a wide range of CAO courses on both a stepping stone and ab inito basis. Remember, each juncture in your educational journey is one step closer to a successful career.

Athlone Institute of Technology is a modern and dynamic HEI distinguished by outstanding learner experience, international focus and applied research and innovation. Awarded Sunday Times Institute of Technology of the Year, AIT is ranked 8th nationally of all HEIs in the league table comprising of Irish Universities and IoT’s. Athlone Institute of Technology boasts a wide array of courses in the Faculties of Engineering and Informatics, Business and Hospitality, and Science and Health. For the full list of courses on offer at Athlone Institute of Technology click here.

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