Leaving Certificate results are due out today and many students will have awakened this morning with a sense of both anticipation and trepidation.
The media will focus in on the highest achievers, those who achieve 600+ points whilst many more will feel deflated at not attaining the points to get into their first-choice course. Some will take the view that the Leaving Certificate is the be all and end all in terms of their career objectives. However, this fatalistic view is unjustified for several reasons as explained below.
1. You do not need maximum points to earn maximum salaries
The Abrivia Salary Survey 2018 found that of those earning more than €100,000 annually, only 2% received 600 points in their Leaving Certificate.
2. Your preferred choice of courses is the only option to achieve your goals
This is rarely the case. Below are a variety of options available to you.
A. Private or Independent Colleges
There are numerous private and independent colleges who offer numerous FETAC accredited courses for relatively low CAO points. Private colleges are relatively more expensive but a worthwhile investment. Research recently found that Irish male graduates earn an average €330,00 more over their lifetime and for Irish female graduates this equates to €250,00 when compared to those who decided to finish their education at leaving Cert level (Source: Irish Independent).
B. Study Abroad
Entry points are often less for a similar qualification in a similar university/college overseas. Also, the qualification you achieve in an overseas college can be checked on the qualifax website, which provides free advice on the recognition of foreign qualifications in Ireland.
C. Take a year out
With the country at full employment, it is the ideal opportunity to get some week experience before going to college. This will make it easier to budget for your third level experience as you have gained first-hand experience of the “real world”. Also, an extra year or two will provide you which a work ethic that will help you succeed in your chosen college career.
Be wary of taking a year out for the sole reason of believing points will drop for your course the following year. It is a much better option to have contingency plans with other colleges rather than putting all your eggs in one basket.
D. Further Education colleges (PLCs)
PLC courses provide post leaving certification training to students of all ages. The subjects covered in PLC courses cover everything from Travel and Tourism to Business/Accounting and Legal studies.
Many courses offer progression to third level courses. For example, if you have not attained enough CAO points to do economics and law in DCU, if you manage to get five distinctions in a legal studies course in Pearse College, you will be eligible for one of the places reserved for FETAC applicants in DCU (Source: Irish Times).
You may be taking a longer route on your course of first choice. The web portal www.careersportal.ie is great assistance in this regard.
E. Repeat your Leaving Cert
If none of the above options appeal to you, there is always the option of repeating your leaving certificate. This is a good option if you narrowly missed the points required previously and where you are not required to sit all subjects again to get a place on your dream course. You may decide to stay in your existing school or to go to a private college for a year, which also offer specialised leaving certificate courses.
Also, a very good option especially for those looking for a career in construction, Finance, hospitality and ICT is an Internship or an Apprenticeship.
If you have attained the points you desire, congratulations. If not, try not to be two disheartened as there are many ways to skin a cat, from PLC courses, private colleges, studying abroad, direct labour, apprenticeships or you may consider giving the Leaving Certificate a second shot.