CAO offers: Weighing up the pros and cons of repeating the Leaving Cert
After the publication of CAO Round 1 today, some students will be disappointed with the offer they received (or lack of an offer) and will be considering their options, including the possibility of repeating. They may be short of points for a favoured course, or have missed out on a minimum grade required for entry.
Whatever may motivate a young person to reconsider returning to Leaving Cert, it is essential to take some time to consider all options, including the advantages and disadvantages of each.
As every Leaving Cert parent and student will agree, sixth year is one of the most challenging years of any young person's life and this is not likely to change the second time around.
For many young people, the goal of Leaving Cert is simply to achieve the requirements necessary to gain access to their chosen course, and this should be kept at the forefront of their mind when making decisions about their options now.
If a student has already achieved a place on a course that will get them to their career goal, even if it is not their dream course, moving forward to third level may be the better choice.
If this is not the case, it is worth considering a further education course, which may allow progression to a higher education course relevant to a career goal, next year.
There are also apprenticeships and traineeships opening up.
It is often more beneficial for students to move forward in education than to return to a school environment at 18 or 19 years of age, which can be a huge challenge.
Additionally, there are options such as CAO 'available places' and UCAS 'clearing'.
When considering whether or not to repeat, it is helpful for students to ask themselves the following questions. What prevented me from gaining the result I wanted last year? Were these circumstances within my control? Will this be different next year or am I likely to fall back into the same habits?
A candidate can do much better second time around but it is also possible to slide into old habits and to achieve results that are only slightly better, or even lower, than at the first sitting.
Students should also consider their subjects - some will have different coursework. For example, in English, the skills students are required to develop remain fixed, but the texts may change. Other subjects affected by such changes include music and history.
Remember, Leaving Cert points must come from one sitting of the exams, but it is possible to repeat single subjects. Grades achieved in these subjects can be used to meet entry requirements.
Students who decide that repeating is the best option for them must now consider where to do it.
They may wish to return to their own school, which is normally at the discretion of the school principal. It may have the benefit of being familiar and close to home, but if your school does not have a dedicated repeat class (which most do not), then students may find they have outgrown that environment.
A small number of second-level schools offer a dedicated 'repeat' year, including O'Connell's CBS, Dublin, and Coláiste Mhuire CBS, Mullingar, Co Westmeath.
It is worth checking with local education and training boards (ETBs) as many further education colleges offer a 'repeat' year. This allows students to move to a college environment but study a Leaving Cert course.
Students may also consider 'grind' schools, although these are the most expensive option.
This is a difficult decision and should not be entered into lightly.
Students should consider contacting a guidance counsellor or the NPCpp Leaving Cert Helpline (1800 265 165) to discuss their options.