Today represents a new beginning
Pressures of the points race are in the past and the anxious wait for the results is over, writes Katherine Donnelly
All 55,000 or so Leaving Certificate candidates who sat the exams in June have cause to celebrate this milestone.
Education is a personal journey so today is not a time for comparison, but an opportunity for students to reflect on their next step and what might be best for them.
Many school-leavers have already made their decisions about courses and will get their preferred choice. Some may not have got the results or college offer they were hoping for and may be reconsidering their options.
Others are still wondering what to do, or may not be ready to commit to further study this year, for some other reason.
The next step is not all about going to college or returning to study immediately, although having a qualification above Leaving Certificate standard is becoming increasingly important in order to get and hold on to a job.
So even if college is not the right option today, it is worth keeping the thought alive for next year.
With the big changes underway in the world of work and with employers requiring ever higher skills, with new jobs being invented all the time, learning has become a necessary lifelong pursuit.
Whatever the issue facing students and their parents today, there is plenty of support and advice available.
Members of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors are staffing the National Parents Council Post Primary annual helpline, sponsored by the Irish Independent and eircom, with the support of the Department of Education and Skills.
Typically, the helpline handles about 3,000 calls a year, offering reassurance and providing information and advice tailored to the needs of the caller, whether the query is about rechecks, repeats, the points system, CAO procedures, apprenticeships, or further training.
Schools and colleges also have staff available to help students and parents tease through the options and to overcome any perceived obstacles.
This supplement provides information across the range of issues and also features the personal stories of recent school-leavers about the decisions they took to follow their own path, and how they are now faring.
Irish Independent Supplement