Student Testimonial: Pre University Science
My name is Laura Hartnett. I got 490 points in my leaving cert and I'm currently studying general science in Trinity College.
While as a student in Colaiste Ide I attended the Pre-University Science course which was very important to me and I would recommend it to anyone considering doing science, whether you get the points for your course or not.
It's a very comfortable, relaxed environment which makes it easy to communicate with teachers and ask questions or get help. The classes were relatively small, which was much better than the 30 student class rooms I was used to in school. The atmosphere was so relaxed, and it was so easy to talk to everyone in the class. There were much less groups and cliques than I had in school, which made for a better learning environment as you don't feel intimidated or embarrassed about speaking up to ask a question or simply say you don't understand something.
The course covered a broad range of subjects which prepares you for university, even if you don't expect them to. All the biology modules and chemistry really make you feel comfortable in a lab, and you learn techniques you don't get in school so the unilab isn't terrifying when you first walk in. I first thought spreadsheets was fairly pointless for science, but when I was doing maths and physics in Trinity we used it all the time for tables, graphs and data collection, and having spent a year doing a module using solely spreadsheets I was at an advantage.
You really do use the tricks you learn and being very familiar with spreadsheets makes the world of difference when you're rushing to do up a graph at the end of a lab session. The topics taught in all the subjects (mainly Biology and Maths) are a good introduction to university science, and don't cover much more than the leaving cert so it's at a comfortable level. In fact I used my maths notes from Colaiste Ide instead of the ones I got from my lecturer and the same for some of my biology notes.
But for me, the best thing I got out of the course wasn't just the course content, but the experiences I gained and the friends I made. When I entered the course I was a very quiet and shy person, and while I am still quiet I have noticed a significant difference in my confidence. I think you spend so long in school simply doing what you're told and learning what you're told that you never really get a chance to explore what you're learning or ask questions which might veer off exam type questions. In the course I felt comfortable asking questions just for the sake of knowing and interest as opposed to asking because it was on an exam, and I thought the teachers were more than happy to indulge your curiosity.
In the labs we were taught to be confident and not to be afraid to do things wrong, while still being taught strict lab safety techniques. While some of the labs weren't too interesting, we did get to do some fun stuff like growing microbes from home on agar and attempting to make hand warmers. The friends I made in the course I'm still close with now, and even go to college with some of them.
I can't express how important the year was for me mentally. I was so stressed in the leaving cert years, so much pressure on just 7 exams. When I didn't get the course I wanted in Trinity, I seriously considered repeating the leaving cert. I can't remember what made me decide to do a FET course instead, but I've never regretted that decision. The year was so much less stressful, and I think the extra year made me more prepared for university. If I'm honest, I'm even glad I didn't get my course first time around because I'd have been so nervous straight out of school. I gained a sense of independence and maturity in one short year and I don't think I'd have made it through first year of Trinity Science without it.
For more information on the Pre-University Science course click here.