'When I did sociology in the PLC, I realised it was something I had no interest in - the PLC gave me time to figure out what I wanted to do'
Andrew Fagan, Liberties College/DCU
In his Leaving Cert year, Andrew Fagan had his heart set on an honours degree (Level 8) university course in French and sociology, but didn't get the points.
It was a blessing in disguise because, with what he knows about himself now, he reckons he probably would have dropped out.
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When Andrew (18) of Finglas, Dublin, didn't get his desired CAO offer in 2017, advice from his guidance counsellor at Beneavin College, who had spoken about post-Leaving Cert (PLC) courses and how they could be a stepping stone to college, came into play.
He enrolled in the Liberal Arts PLC at Liberties College, Dublin. One of the modules was sociology and that was how he discovered "that it was something I had no interest in; I would have had to drop out of university". The PLC gave him "time to figure out what I wanted to do" and, along the way, he developed an interest in media studies. He says it also taught him "all the things I needed to know about first year university, such as academic referencing".
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With the eight distinctions, he was well positioned to compete for a place on one of the third-level courses with which it has progression links.
By now, he wanted to do media studies and French in DCU, but it wasn't on the list, so he made his case to DCU - and succeeded. "It was in the year doing the PLC that I understood that my education was now in my own hands, whereas when you are doing the Leaving Cert, you are relying on the teachers," he says.
Now at the end of his first semester in DCU, he describes it as "brilliant" and believes the skills he developed in the PLC helped him settle in more than many other students who came straight from school: "I am more confident about approaching my assignments, and about the transition to university life."