Congratulations, Class of 2016
Published 17/08/2016 | 02:30
Today marks a new beginning for the almost 58,500 students who sat their Leaving Certificate in June. Well done to all on reaching and getting through this particular educational milestone.
The arrival of the results will be greeted with a mixture of excitement and relief, and, inevitably, some disappointment among students who didn't achieve a particular grade or grades.
But it is important to bear in mind that it is only a step in life's journey, and presents an opportunity for each individual to take stock and decide on what to do next, if they have not done so already. The options are boundless.
Many school-leavers will use the results as a basis for entry to third-level: more than 47,000 of this year's Leaving Certificate candidates applied to the CAO and will be awaiting the release of offers next Monday. Others have applied to universities in the UK or elsewhere. Some are choosing the further education route, perhaps a post-Leaving Certificate course, either as an end in itself, or a stepping stone to college.
This year, there is a welcome bounce back in the number of apprenticeships, both in traditional trades and new areas, such as accountancy, insurance and technology, offering alternative and valuable routes to a fulfilling career, for those who prefer the "earn and learn" approach to education and training.
There will be school-leavers who haven't a clue what they want to do and, in the weeks since the exams, some will have changed their minds about the direction they want to take. There will also be those who want a break from education.
Those who need time to consider their options should take that breathing space, and avail of all the support available, whether from school, third-level colleges, parents or the National Parents' Council post-primary (NPCpp) Helpline.
But today, most of all, is a day to celebrate the culmination of all the hard work, the obstacles overcome in the journey to date and the achievement of each individual.