Congratulations, Class of 2017
Congratulations to the class of 2017. It's Leaving Cert results day and no matter what the outcome, it represents a milestone in life's journey.
But a staging post is all that it is. Whatever the results, whatever the experience of the education system, they do not define a school-leaver.
Many will be sure of what they want to do. Others will be uncertain. Others won't have a clue. About four in five Leaving Cert candidates have applied to the CAO, and some will be doubting their choices.
It is important to remember that there is a path for everyone, and there is plenty of support and advice available, including the Exams Helpline, to steer school-leavers through.
Education is an individual journey, each student has different talents and skills, and there should be no comparisons made with others.
Today is an emotional day, and there will be much joy and relief, and, inevitably, there will also be some disappointment.
This year has seen big changes to the Leaving Cert grading system as well as the points scale used for college entry. Change causes uncertainty, so there will be some nervousness about how the results translate into college offers. The changes were designed to take the heat out of the points race, and let's hope that they do.
For those awaiting a CAO offer, there will be the temptation to second-guess the impact of the combination of the new grading and points systems and wonder what is in store for them when the CAO Round 1 issues. More than ever before, it is a futile exercise this year.
College is not for every school-leaver, and, even if it is, not necessarily in the year they leave school.
There are lots of options, including post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses and the new apprenticeships that are starting to come onstream. Some will want to work or travel to figure out the best path. This supplement is full of information and advice to guide you through along with stories of interesting education and career journeys taken by school-leavers from previous years.
I leave you with a salute from the wonderful US author, Dr Seuss:
"Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away!
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
"You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go."