Advice column: The Leaving’s over - so what now?

Dr Eddie Murphy
Around this time the major event is the Leaving Certificate results for thousands of students across Ireland.

Around this time the major event is the Leaving Certificate results for thousands of students across Ireland.

Put things into perspective: There is an overemphasis on the Irish Leaving Cert. No person is defined by their results. This exam does not test for integrity, respect, honesty, passion, humanity, caring, flexibility, critical thinking and problem solving, emotional intelligence, team working etc. The academic path is not the path for all. Our society needs to temper its over-indulgence in high point scoring and identify that there are many different paths for all.

There will be some of you who are bitterly disappointed with your results. It is extremely important that you do not let these disappointing results dominate your thoughts.

If you are not offered your first choice through the CAO, you need to be flexible and look at other options. But do not make any definite decisions as there will be two more rounds of CAO offers to come. Every year, particularly after the first round offers, vacant places are advertised. These are courses that have not been filled by earlier applicants to the CAO system. However, you must keep asking yourself is this course really for me – you don’t want to be stuck doing something you hate for the next three-four years.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of receiving no offers do not stress, there are plenty of other options to consider. There has never been so many positive alternatives for Leaving Certificate students as there is today. Your first step is to talking to someone who has some experience with such predicaments. Try and go to your School Principal or Career Guidance Teacher, who will provide you with any information you need.

Result Appeal

If you feel that the results you received do not reflect your work you can arrange a viewing of the script, usually with your teacher and then an appeal. Talk to your school about how to do this.

You might want to consider post leaving cert courses. PLC courses offer a mixture of practical work, academic work and work experience. A wide range of disciplines are covered including business, electronics engineering, computing, catering, sport and leisure, theatre and stage, performance art, art craft and design, equestrian studies, multi-media studies, journalism, tourism, marketing, childcare and community care, hairdressing and beauty care, applied science, and horticulture.

Furthermore there will be new courses advertised by individual colleges and Institutes, generally throughout August and September. These courses were not sanctioned in time to go into the official CAO system, so therefore a student applies directly to the institution. The sorrow and the panic of not having a place in college – when all your other friends have, can be very lonely, but it can also be very dangerous. Make sure you think wisely about all the courses you are considering.

When all other options have been explored maybe the last option for you to consider is the repeating of the Leaving Cert. Repeating the Leaving Cert is a reality for a number of students every year. The thoughts of repeating your exams might be a daunting prospect, but it will be worth it come this time next year. But in order to be successful you must be aware of where have gone wrong. This is really invaluable, so viewing your scripts can be quite helpful in these situations. Try and focus from the beginning of the year. Students who have a clear vision of what they want tend to be very motivated and make for successful repeat students.

The National Parents Council Post Primary helpline can be contacted through 1800 265 165.

Dr Eddie Murphy runs a psychology and counselling service in Portarlington, Co Laois. If you are organising a speaker or training for school, community, voluntary, sporting or work groups, call Dr Eddie on 087 1302899 or visit