My story: 'When the results came out I was still unsure about what to do next'
Ailish Connolly has sound advice for students who, like her, were unsure of the next step when the Leaving Cert results came out.
She is a good example of how it pays off to explore the opportunities offered by further education, such as Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses
Ailish, from Carrigallen, Co Leitrim, was sick for a lot of sixth year, and as a result, missed a lot of school.
"When the results came out I was still a bit unsure about what to do next, and I didn't feel confident moving away.
"It was suggested that I should take a year to do a Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) course, to find out what I really wanted to do and reapply for university the following year," said Ailish.
She opted for the one-year Cultural and Heritage Studies course in Cavan Institute.
"It gave me time to think about what to do next," the 20-year-old said.
"People think that because it's not a university course that the workload is lighter -- but from speaking to my friends I realised that I had the same, if not more, work to do than people starting college."
The following year Ailish was offered a place in arts in NUI Maynooth, to which access is possible through the Higher Education Links Scheme (HELS).
"I had found something I really enjoyed learning about and it gave me a solid foundation for Maynooth."
She said moving away from home and starting a new course is a daunting experience for anyone, so "take the time to consider all your options and explore what FETAC has to offer before rushing into a decision".
Irish Independent Supplement