At this time of year, guidance counsellors in second-level schools all over the country will begin making one-to-one careers appointments with their sixth-year students.
It is likely that students will have met with the guidance counsellor at some stage before now, whether the purpose was for personal or careers counselling.
While different guidance counsellors have different procedures for making sixth-year careers appointments, it is important that students are aware of what these are. In some schools, the guidance counsellor will call all students for an initial sixth-year meeting to ensure that they have met and assessed the individual needs of each student.
They will then let the individual student know where they may need to focus their further investigations.
While it is likely that students will be called for an initial sixth-year guidance appointment by their counsellor, they should feel free to approach their counsellor if they are ready for a meeting, or if they are not sure whether their guidance counsellor will be approaching them. Once the initial meeting has taken place, students can return for as many more appointments as they feel they require. In most cases, the guidance counsellor is likely to allow students to judge whether they need to return or not.
A sixth-year guidance appointment is a time for students to sit with a professional to discuss their individual needs, questions and plans. It is confidential and students should feel free to bring up any issue they would like to discuss, whether it is a personal, educational or career matter. If it could potentially interfere with a student achieving their potential at Leaving Cert, then it is relevant. Normally some time will be spent discussing a student's academic background, study and homework as well as hobbies and interests, which will allow the counsellor to get a better idea of the person before focusing on careers and/or courses.
Before any meeting with the guidance counsellor, it is important for students to have clear goals set out for what they would like to achieve during the meeting. Students may have specific questions to be answered, perhaps making sure that they have not missed any options during their research or they may like to talk about making a particular decision.
The more research a student has completed before the meeting, the better. The guidance counsellor can spend time pointing out websites and looking up courses with the students, but most students could do this work at home and the short amount of time with the guidance counsellor would be better spent clarifying and working through the student's thoughts.
The guidance counsellor will also be able to suggest other areas that a student could be looking at, point out discrepancies or gaps in their research, interpret the results of psychometric tests, and get them started if they are having difficulties organising themselves. They will also be keeping an eye out for signs of stress and anxiety in students.
Important dates for your diary:
IT Sligo Open Day
UCC Parent information evening
Sligo College of Further Education Open day
SAT testing date
CAO Opens for application 2014
All Hallows Open Day