Thursday 27 June 2019

'I didn't have the points, so doing the PLC was the best decision I ever made' - how college entry does not always hinge on the Leaving Cert

Paul Sheerin | Kerry College of Further Education

Paul Sheerin is studying music at Kerry College of Further Education. Photo: Domnick Walsh, Eye Focus
Paul Sheerin is studying music at Kerry College of Further Education. Photo: Domnick Walsh, Eye Focus

Paul Sheerin's talent for music impressed in an audition for the CAO course of his dreams last year, but his Leaving Cert results meant he didn't have the necessary points to qualify for entry.

It was a disappointment, but no great surprise to the Co Kerry student, who admits: "I wasn't the best at school."

The 19-year-old had his eye on the Level 8 (honours degree) Bachelor of Music at Cork IT.

Now, last year's disappointment is history and he is in line for a place in CIT next month.

Paul's story is an example of how college entry does not always hinge on the Leaving Cert, and how a year-long Level 5 post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) course can make points redundant.

While applicants using a PLC route still have to compete, they have the option of using either Leaving Cert points or their PLC results.

Trumpet player Paul has been a member of the popular, Killarney-based, Gleneagle Concert Band for 11 years and says he wanted to pursue a career in music since he was in second year. Prior to that he fancied himself playing for Liverpool FC, "but I knew that wasn't going to work out!"

It was the Gleneagle band conductor, and music teacher, Vincent Condon, who brought his attention to the PLC Music (Performance) course in Kerry College of Further Education (KCFE), Tralee, launched last year. The timing was just right for Paul.

"He said it was the perfect course for me and it would get me into Cork IT. I did an interview and they took me on. It was the best decision I ever made," says the former pupil of Pobalscoil Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, Co Kerry.

The programme covers music technology, sound engineering and production, music industry studies, music theory and practice, music in Ireland and team-working as well as work experience. Entry requirements for the course are LCA, LCVP or Leaving Cert, but those who have reached age 18 without Leaving Cert will also be considered.

Like other PLCs, it has progression links to a number of third-level CAO courses, in both universities and institutes of technology, including the BMus in Cork IT. Other links that exists for it include DCU (Religious Education and Music), Dundalk IT (Production of Music and Audio), IT Tralee (Music Technology); IT Tralee (TV, Radio and New Media Broadcasting), UL (Performing Arts), Waterford IT (Music) and Sligo IT (Performing Arts).

Paul describes his time in KCFE as a "really good year" and his dedication to his studies saw him end the year with six distinctions and a merit.

Apart from his excellent academic results, the talented musician was also awarded the Upcoming Star Award at the KCFE 2018 Annual Awards Ceremony.

Paul re-applied to Cork IT for entry on the basis of his PLC and returned for another audition earlier this year, emerging with an audition mark of 100pc. The panel commented on his improved performance and asked what he had done over the year to have improved so much.

He is excited by the prospect of starting college but still hasn't decided what career route he would like to follow. "I would love to teach, but I would also love to be performing."

Irish Independent

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