Friday 21 September 2018

Don't plan summer break for results time

Going to college...

Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh
Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Aoife Walsh

Every year the very first issue I discuss with my sixth-year students when they return to school is the Leaving Cert holidays - and this year was no different.

This may seem a little unusual and even a frivolous topic for school assembly, but there is good reason. We have found that these holidays are more popular than ever and students are booking them earlier and earlier each year.

For incoming sixth-year students, it seems like a great idea to book their holiday for just after the Leaving Cert results. What better way to celebrate the excellent results they will receive than by jetting off to the Costas? Plus, by leaving the holiday to the end of the summer, many feel they will have the chance to work and save their money.

Unfortunately, that time of year may be an extremely busy couple of weeks for students - and it is essential that they are close to home during this time. The Leaving Cert results will be released in mid-August and, four days later, students will receive their CAO offers. Being out of the country immediately after the Leaving Cert results are published is a very bad idea and may not only result in stress, but could even result in missing out on a course altogether.

If students receive their first-round offer next August, then accepting it is as easy and quick as a couple of clicks of a mouse. However, many students are disappointed or unsure of their options each year. For these students, being far away from home can turn small difficulties into major problems.

Students who are disappointed with their offers or results will have many options in August, but nearly all require them to be here. Some colleges give students the option of taking second-chance maths exams to fulfil a maths requirement they did not achieve at Leaving Cert.

They may choose to apply for a late Post-Leaving Certificate place, which requires an interview, or they may need to find accommodation in a city in which they had not really expected to be studying. Many students often wish to view their scripts - which takes place in the last weekend in August - and students must be present for this, as no one else can view them on their behalf.

Even students who are happy with their offer and achieve excellent results can doubt their choices when they receive their final offer. For many, speaking to their family and friends or a guidance counsellor can put their minds at ease very quickly. All of these things are much more difficult to do when students are abroad and away from their normal support system.

While it may seem a long way off, planning ahead for the worse-case scenario may save students and parents a huge amount of stress and upset come next August. So enjoy the Leaving Cert holiday - but consider July instead.

Question: Should I  do higher level maths in the Leaving Certificate?

Aoife replies: A decision on whether a student does higher level maths is very much for the individual, and if in any doubt, you should discuss it with your maths teacher, and, perhaps, your guidance counsellor.

The introduction of 25 bonus points for a minimum grade D at higher level has seen a rise in the number of students taking 'honours'. This year, more than 27pc of candidates sat higher level. As more students take the 'honours' paper, there has been a slight increase in those who are not achieving a minimum grade D - up to 5.2pc this year from 4.2pc in 2014.

The risk of not achieving at least a D is that there are no points available for EFNG grades(although there may be some change to that for current fifth years), so students need to weigh up that risk and consider whether their time might be better spent focusing on other subjects and taking the ordinary level paper in maths.

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

Important dates


CAO Round 2 - deadline for acceptances

Dun Laoghaire Further Education Institute - Information Day

Griffith College Dublin - Open Day

Institute of Technology Blanchardstown - Open Evening

Irish College of Humanities & Applied Sciences - Open Day

National Learning Network - Roslyn Park College Tour (weekly) - State Examinations Commission - deadline for receipt of Leaving cert appeals


CIT Crawford College of Art and Design Information/Registration Evening for continuing education courses

Beauty Academy Ltd - Open Day

September 4

Kinsale College Open Day

September 7

Carlow Institute of Further Education - registration for part-time courses (Two days)

September 8

Dublin Business School - general Open Evening

Ulster University Jordanstown Open days/evenings - (Three days)

Irish Independent

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