GEMMA Doorly, who you might know better as Sarah from Fair City, didn't get her first CAO choice of Drama in Trinity College Dublin and decided to take a year out to think about what she really wanted.
"I was just 17 doing my Leaving Cert which was quite young. I didn't get my first choice of Drama in Trinity and my parents were reluctant to ship me off to Coleraine where I'd been offered Drama at the University of Ulster.
"They advised me to take a year out so off I went to France and had a great laugh. It gave me a chance to think about what I really wanted and meant I didn't make any hasty decisions that I would have regretted. When I returned, I was definitely more prepared to knuckle down."
For Gemma, moving away from home was a "daunting" experience. "I was actually very scared because I didn't know anyone at all. My parents dropped me up to Coleraine and there was lots of tears. I moved into the Halls of Residence and that was a very wise decision because you get to know people very quickly.
"I was thrown in the deep end but just had to bite the bullet by knocking on the room next door to see if the girls wanted to come with me to registration," she said.
"I'd definitely recommend people to get involved in clubs and societies in college because it's a great way of meeting people.
"The other thing about being a student is that you're broke all the time so you have to learn how to budget.
"My advice would learn how to be disciplined about finances, organise the best nights to go out and have fun and stay in other nights.
"There are drawbacks to moving away but it's a character building experience and you really get a sense of yourself.
"I had a blast, an absolute ball at college."