Friday 19 July 2019

Going to College: It’s a busy time for Leaving Cert students, but here are some boxes to tick now

Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh
Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Aoife Walsh

It is a busy time for Leaving Cert students and it can be stressful. One way to attempt to keep this stress at bay is to focus on completing some essential tasks that will help students feel they are getting through their workload and moving closer to their post-Leaving Cert goals. Below are a number of suggestions that will help them keep on track and be well prepared for the months ahead.

It is a busy time for  Leaving Cert students and it can be stressful.    One way to attempt to keep this stress at bay is to focus on completing some essential tasks that will help students feel they are getting through their workload and moving closer to their post-Leaving Cert goals. Below are a number of suggestions that will help them keep on track and be well prepared for the months ahead.

Register with the CAO

Despite the CAO being open for applications since November 5, and numerous reminders from guidance counsellors, many of those who intend to submit a CAO application this year have not yet registered. The CAO offers a discounted rate of €30 for applicants who register before January 20. The rate for registering between January 20 and February 1 is €45.

Many students delay this step as they do not feel ready to complete the application. However, no applicant will be at a disadvantage for completing this step early as applicants can continue to work on their application until the deadline of February 1.

Once registered, applicants can begin exploring the application form. The form is very straightforward and allows applicants to save their work and return at any time. The most difficult part of the process is deciding the courses for which to apply and the order in which to place them. 

Applicants who wish to be considered for the HEAR or DARE schemes must register and indicate this on their CAO form before  February 1. It is also very helpful for anyone considering applying for the SUSI grant to indicate this in the relevant section before February 1.

Apply for a PLC course

I advise all my students to apply for a Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) course, irrespective of their plan for next year. This sector really does offer something for everyone and it is often the students who does not fully research their options in further education who are left with no place come August.

Students who are dreaming of high-points degree programmes will find a wide array of PLC courses  that may help them to access their coveted CAO place next year,  if the Leaving Cert does not go as planned.

Make an appointment with your guidance counsellor

Students who may feel overwhelmed with stress, are struggling with study or career choices, or find that personal issues are affecting their ability to reach their full potential at Leaving Cert could all benefit from making an appointment with the guidance counsellor. As well as being experts in the education system, they are vocational and personal counsellors and can help students learn how to manage issues that may be affecting their academic performance in advance of the exams.  

In relation to careers, a guidance counsellor can help in a number of ways. They can suggest extra courses based on what a student has already found, they can discuss the pros and cons of  courses, challenge ideas and help a student  clarify their  order of preference list.

This is a very busy time of year in schools. It is likely a large number of sixth year students will also want to meet the guidance counsellor before the February 1 deadline. Rushed appointments are no help to anyone so book one early and prepare well for it.

Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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