With 120,000 students sitting the Leaving Cert exams this week, the pressure on young minds can be somewhat overwhelming as some see the Leaving Certificate examination as the be all and end all in terms of career progression. The good news is that there are many options and avenues in regards career progression as your career does not start and finish after one exam. Below are 3 Leaving Cert lessons, to offer some perspective on this pressure cooker of an exam:
- Some of the most successful business people did poorly or didn’t have a leaving cert (or equivalent)
In Ireland, the list includes Bill Cullen, Niall Horan, Conor Mc Gregor and the Strypes who didn’t sit their Leaving Cert but were still successful in the career they chose. Richard Branson of Virgin Airways fame never completed school and Steve Jobs dropped out of college in 1973.
Traditionally in Ireland the general view is that a good leaving cert plus a good degree equals a firm foothold on the career ladder. However, this is often not the case as a degree is only one piece of the career jigsaw and there are many alternative routes to career success. See below the inspirational story of Jack Ma, a Chinese business magnate who is the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, which boasts sales of $21.49 billion and has a market capitalisation of $264.9 billion and is the 86th most profitable company in the world (Source; Forbes).
- Your leaving certificate results do not define you
Drive, ambition, passion, sales, self-promotion and perseverance is what defines success. Success isn’t determined by one set of exam results. Even if your leaving cert results are disappointing there are other options available to get into third level. For example, there are many well renowned and independent third level colleges who have more attainable entry requirements to be admitted to an honours bachelors degree course. There is also an array of excellent PLC courses (Post Leaving Cert courses) and are generally aimed towards specific jobs where 25% of your college time is spent on invaluable work experience.
- Direct Employment
With unemployment nearing record low levels, there are many more opportunities for those who decide not to go onto third level or those who decide to postpone the whole third level experience.
Working for a few years will make it easier to budget for your third level experience. The knowledge and experience gained by being in the workforce for a few years should make college projects much easier as you will be able to give life work experience examples when doing projects or answering exam questions. Suddenly your learnings will have an actual more memorable context rather than a theoretical hypothetical one.
“It is easy to be wise after the event” …Arthur Conan Doyle
With age comes the benefit of hindsight. Ask any successful Irish businessperson if the Leaving Cert examination defined success in their career and most them will say “no”. They are more likely to quote positive attitude, a strong work ethic combined with passion, perseverance, thinking outside the box, a strong visionary problem solving capability as the main elements of their success. I predict very few if any will put it down to how they performed in a state examination, namely the Leaving Certificate examination.