I've got my Leaving results, so what's next?

ANDREE HARPUR has advice to make sure you're on the right course

With results day finally here, career-guidance counsellor Andree Harpur takes on the challenges today may bring -- and offers advice on how to make the most of what you have achieved in the Leaving Cert.

>What if I've done worse than I


It may happen that your results are not what you expect and you do not get offered any honours degree courses (Level 8) in the CAO. This can initially be devastating.

However, please do look at the second section of your CAO form. If you have filled out the Level 7/6 Course Choices section, the diploma and certificate courses, there is every possibility that you will get offered one of these courses.

You may think that these courses are not degree courses and not worth applying for. Think again: many of these diploma and certificate courses can eventually lead to a degree and can be very handy "back doors" into degree courses that may now seem to be outside your reach.

Level 6 and 7 courses are mainly run in Institutes of Technology and Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) Colleges:www.cao.ie/index.php?page=hei.

To do a course search for PLC courses, click into: www.careersportal.ie/members/auth/courses/plc_search.php.

> What if I have not filled out the Level 7/6 section of my CAO?

You can still contact the PLC Colleges directly. The course you get offered will depend on availability of places and may not be exactly the one you originally wanted.

However, the course you are offered may eventually lead to the course you really want.

There will also be courses in other colleges which may have vacant places. These are published on the CAO website after August 26. You can apply for these at this stage, even if you have not applied for them before. Click on: www.cao.ie/ index.php?page=vpl_enter.

>What if I've achieved good results but I am having second thoughts about my course?

In the majority of cases, when I work with such students, it turns out that they are totally suited for the course which they are offered. Do not refuse an option unless you are absolutely sure that it does not suit you. If you are not certain, make sure to get advice from someone you trust.

>What if I've done

better than expected and regret my choice of course?

First, well done for doing so well. However, getting good results does mean that you now have an extra choice to make.

If the course you are offered can prepare you for the course you would eventually love to do, then it would be a good idea to take it. For example, if you were offered general science but you now have the points for medicine, which you would love, doing a year of science would be really good preparation for your medical degree.

You simply accept your science offer and then re-apply for medicine through the CAO in January 2012.

You do an extra year, but you will also be a very well-prepared medical student.

>What if my results mean I won't be going to the same college as my friends?

I have worked with students who have chosen to do courses that they did not like simply because they wanted to be in the same college as their friends.

At the start of the year this worked well. However, as time went on, their friends became engaged in their courses and spent more time studying.

The students became more and more bored with their courses, studied less and wanted to go out more. The problem was, there were not many people to go out with!

They now had a double problem: they hated their courses and their friends were not around to socialise.

It got even worse at the end of the year -- they failed because they did not work and their friends went on into second year. What makes it even worse is that you have to pay fees for a repeat year -- this could cost you around €6,000!

>When would you advise someone to repeat their Leaving Cert?

Even the thought of a repeat Leaving makes most students sick.

So why on earth would you do it? Consider the following questions: a) Do you think that the results you just got in your Leaving Cert reflect your true potential?

b) Are your current results stopping you from doing the course that you would love to do?

c) In the future, when anyone asks you about your Leaving Cert results, will you try to avoid the question?

You are a serious contender for a repeat Leaving Certificate if you answer: a) No, b) Yes, c) Yes.

Only repeat your Leaving Certificate if:

> You now see that you are an adult and you want to take responsibility for your own life.

> You know what you want to do and your are prepared to work for it.

> You realise that this year will be the toughest one you have had so far, academically, but you are prepared to go through short-term pain for long-term gain.

Sorted! A Survival Guide for Parents of Students making a Career Choice, by Andree Harpur and Mary Quirke, published next month by Kite Publications, price €15. For more, see www.andreeharpur.com