Saturday 20 July 2019

Bad decision was a blessing in disguise - now I'm ready for college

Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris

Sorcha Doyle

The CAO application deadline and change-of-mind closing date has come and gone for me for the second year in a row but this year, unlike the last, I feel totally at ease with my choice.

Last year I chose engineering. After attending college for two days, my previous doubts were confirmed that this would not be my subject of study for the next four years or more.

My decision to take a gap year was sudden and slightly daunting, but was really a blessing in disguise. On August 17 last, I woke up at six o'clock to accept my offer to study international languages. I am now certain this is the right course for me and my gap year played a huge part in this realisation.

Every year, there are so many students who don't know what they really want to do in college right up to the morning of the CAO offers. We get an offer, we accept, we go to college.

This is what's done and this is what we believe we are meant to do. In my case, I accepted engineering despite being almost certain I didn't really want to do it. I didn't think I had any other choice.

The stigma surrounding gap years is very much a reality and a deterrent to students who have been thinking about taking the time out.

People believe that gap years slow down the education process. A year older finishing college, a year older getting a job and earning a living.

But what's the big rush? In reality, the gap year enriches college life, provides both experience and experiences and can potentially lead to a better outcome at the end of the degree.

Only positive things can come from a year, that can be whatever and wherever you want it to be.

I cannot believe it has been a whole year since I made the mistake of accepting that course. The time has flown by and I have had so many new and wonderful experiences and have met some great people along the way.

I spent the first few months, in Dublin working and gaining lots of new skills, experience and a great reference for future potential employers. After Christmas I headed to Madrid, Spain where I spent a great four and a half months working as an au pair. At this stage, I was already seriously considering languages as a study option for the following year. Working in Spain was ideal for improving one of my languages, while at the same time discovering a new culture and city.

After my time ended in Madrid I headed home for five days for a quick wardrobe change and flew off to Disneyland Paris, France where I have been working for the past three months.

Last September, if I'm honest, the idea of having a whole year of no school, no studying and no fixed routine was quite intimidating.

But Ireland and the rest of the world have so much to offer, so it was easy finding my way.

Those who have just been offered places on the CAO need to know that it's ok not to know what you want to do for the rest of your life at the tender age of 17 or 18.

The gap year gives young people the chance to explore, learn and mature, potentially discover new talents and passions, gain skills, meet new people and experience real life outside the pages of maths and English books.

The advice I was given last year was to keep going with the engineering until Christmas at least. After all, I did only try it for two days. But if you know, you know.

I think it's always important to go with your gut feeling.

Taking the gap year immediately avoids unnecessary fees and time wasted studying a topic of little interest.

Last year I was not ready to start college life. I will always be thankful I made the wrong decision on my CAO first time round, as it has led me to where I am today - excited, experienced, refreshed and ready.

Sorcha Doyle (19) is from Stillorgan, Dublin.

Irish Independent

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