Saturday 20 January 2018

Exam Diary: How I ended 14 years of school with a mouse click

Laura Gaynor

I REALISE it was a long weekend for most of my peers. Not for me, I was safe. Thanks to my portfolio marks, I only needed to pass. So the anticipation wasn't that much in the end. The chances of my course going up by more than 150 points seemed unlikely.

However, it wasn't until 5.55am yesterday that I realised I was by no means au fait with the CAO website. The business of accepting offers online seemed easy. Too easy.

Fourteen years of school could hardly be concluded by ticking a box. And what if I clicked the wrong box?

However, my CAO offer was not the reason I was awake in the small hours. I had to go and catch a bus from Derry to Belfast.

Just as I was leaving, my brother had just sent me a Facebook message: 'Yo'. He was staying up to see if there was a room for him in Trinity. Yet, as much as I wanted to stay and speculate, I now had three minutes to get out the door. I could always accept my offer on the bus.

Too late. I realised how naive I was. The bus had led me to believe they had Wi-Fi. How did I let myself be tricked by a bus? Ultimately, this 'internet' was neither fit for purpose nor suitable for accepting CAO offers. My first-choice film and television production course would have to wait for my correspondence.

At 8.45am we arrived at Belfast Central station. I went to the nearest cafe to get some tea. My dark bloodshot eyes might have given off the wrong message. I am not a freelance journalist. I'm a filmmaker, I swear.

An hour or so later, I accepted my offer in the office. It was just one click. I think it would have been nice if some sort of message popped up when you accept your offer. Perhaps Cliff Richards singing 'Congratulations'? Something, anything. Could 14 years of school really be concluded with a click?

Ultimately, I didn't really care. I'm really looking forward to my new college. The National Film School at the Institute of Art and Design (IADT) in Dun Laoghaire, which is opening a digital TV studio.

It will be the second of its kind in Ireland after TV3's studio. I spent most of my Leaving Cert year making movies. I went to film festivals in places like Galway and Greece. Yet, it surprised me how little it affected my exam points in the end. I'm really excited to be learning about film and TV production officially and not just undercover.

My brother got his first choice too, Earth Science in Trinity. You'll know him when you see him; he looks a lot like me.

Laura Gaynor was the Irish Independent Leaving Cert exam diarist 2013. She is a former pupil of Ursuline Convent, Sligo, and is currently working in Belfast at Public Achievement, Northern Ireland's leading youth-focused civic education organisation

Irish Independent

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