Leaving Cert didn’t go the way you wanted?

roadsignsDear Leaving Cert Students of 2013. You have worked, you’re probably exhausted and your fingernails have no doubt been bitten down just that little bit too far. It is Leaving Cert Results Day, a day that I know as D-Day.

For many of you, today was a day to rejoice. The results were exactly what you wanted, and you know that you’ve been accepted to the college of your choice already. For others it’s a day of disappointment. You didn’t get the right results, and now you’re at a complete loss about what to do. You’re already imagining sitting it all again, but it’s painful to even think of doing such a thing.

For those of you that are unhappy with how you’ve done, I want you to take a moment. Put it in perspective, and remember that it was only an exam. Teachers will have told you it defines you; that it decides what path in life you would take. This is not true, needless to say. The Leaving Cert is a series of exams that you will only realise in hindsight were utterly abysmal. You have just finished your life’s biggest memory test, and here you are, feeling dejected and upset, and wondering where you go from here.

There are plenty of options for you. It is vital that you remember this. Getting into a university on the back of your Leaving Cert results is not the purpose of your life.

So, what can you do now?

  1. Consider a PLC Course: People will probably have told you at various points to avoid PLC courses. Many consider them to be sub-standard and don’t see the point in them. If you do a PLC course, you could come out after a year with a Level 5 qualification – and more importantly, it could be your ticket to getting into the university or Institute of Technology that you always dreamed of. Don’t listen to those who tell you you’re ‘too good for such things’. Don’t listen to your grandmother bickering about how Stephen from across the road is going to Trinity, just go with your instinct, and follow the path that you know you are to take.
  2. Take a year out: There is always the option of taking some time for yourself. If you have savings, consider going abroad for a while and working. If you don’t, see if you can get a job locally. If you don’t know where you want to go career-wise, this is a good way to figure it out. Working for a while teaches you a lot, and will also give you some money for going to college.
  3. Repeat the Leaving Cert: There is of course always the option of repeating. If you feel that this is what you want to do and this is what will get you to where you want to be, it is your best option. Go into it with an open mind, and don’t let yourself be dragged down by it. You’ve done it before, you can do it again.

Bear in mind that this is not the end of the road. Even if you didn’t get the results you wanted, the points for the course you want may dramatically decrease this year, and there are several CAO rounds to look forward to in which you might get offered the course you want. Just remember that you have so many options – you are a young person with an entire life stretching in front of you. Life is like that. Not everything works out the way it should. Sometimes it will leave you feeling dejected, lying in a heap. But when life leaves you like that, you stand up and move on. You battle up the hill and you make yourself triumphant. Only you can make your life what you want it to be.


18 Days Left…

The final 18 days have arrived. In what seems like way too soon, Leaving Cert students across the country will sit down to English Paper 1. I can imagine we’re all feeling the pressure at the moment. Words of advice seem to ring in the mind…Let’s start by dispelling some common Leaving Cert myths to put your poor tortured mind at ease.

  1. “It determines the rest of your life!” This one is my personal favourite lie. No. It doesn’t determine the rest of your life. How could it? It’s an exam. Yes, it’s important, there’s no denying that. If people want to go on to college, it can give them a direct route, and if people want to start working, then the a good Leaving Cert will help them. But people who profess this blatant lie clearly haven’t a clue about the facts. If the exams don’t go to plan, there’s always PLC courses to fall back on, and if you want you can repeat the Leaving Cert.
  2. “If you fail Maths in your Leaving Cert you have no options. You have to repeat or you’re stuck, and won’t go anywhere.” This was a Leaving Cert myth I thought was true up until very recently, when I discovered that all of the NUI’s in Ireland actually admit students to most arts courses even with a fail in Maths, as the failure rate is so high, and why would you need Maths anyway if you want to study English Literature? There are ways and means to everything, look on the bright side!
  3. “A bad Leaving Cert will impair you for the rest of your life. An employer will look at your results and throw your CV in the bin.” Luckily, this particular myth isn’t particularly common anymore, mainly amongst the older generation who went to school in a time when the Leaving Cert was today’s equivalent to a Level 8 degree. But if anyone does try to tell you this, then they’re… well – wrong. Yes, totally wrong. Once you have a degree or indeed any kind of qualification, most employers won’t have any interest in your Leaving Cert results.
  4. “If you don’t do well in your Leaving Cert, you’ll end up in a dead end job.” I’m not even going to verify this one with a proper response. It’s far too ridiculous to even consider. If anyone tells you this you might consider giving them a slap and tell them to get a grip! (Disclaimer: I’m joking, I don’t encourage violence!

So on that note, everyone, keep up the hard work! Just think – in a month’s time or so the Leaving Cert will be over. You’ll be free to enjoy your summer. And look on the bright side – You’ve already got 40% of your Irish done from the oral, and all your projects from the year will contribute towards your grades. Don’t despair!