THE class of 2010 are set to face some of their biggest hurdles yet after getting their Leaving Cert results today.
With a record 77,123 college-bound students, who have applied through the CAO, competing for a university place this year -- they are facing the knock-on effects of the recession head-on.
The rising cost of college, along with the doubt of earning a college place at all, has left our students facing a mountain of stress today.
With the 'bank of mum and dad' drying up in the economic downturn and grants being slashed by five per cent, students are also clamouring to find part-time work or hold down two jobs.
And savvy students have already taken out loans as they face third-level education, with credit unions reporting an increase in demand for cash.
A number of teens have reported that part-time work and summer jobs have been particularly hard to come by, meaning a loan is the only option to help their fund their studies.
Rose Tulley of the National Parents Council said that the cut in grant funding has made the already costly process of third level education even more expensive.
"The slash in grants and the cut in children's allowance has added to the financial pressure facing parents," she told the Herald. "Yes, it's a little easier with the cost of living gone down, but there are a number of things students need -- they still need food and accommodation, and of course textbooks.
"Five per cent is quite a cut back from a grant. And for parents to find €1,500 for the registration fee for early September is a lot. Between that and accommodation, you are facing €2,000 to €2,500 to start off life in college. Yet most students are home every weekend.
"It's more difficult on parents, particularly for parents with kids who are in primary school or post primary school, who also have to pay the cost of clothes and footwear for the school term beginning in two weeks' time."
Research produced by DIT Campus Life has highlighted that over a nine-month college year, the cost of living for a student living away from home is €7,470 and €3,789 for a student living at home. Rent can account for over a third of the cost of students who live away from home.
And even when they do finish up their third-level education, new graduates face an increasingly fickle jobs market paired with worrying unemployment rates.
This year has already seen a four per cent jump in applications for third-level courses along with a significant increase in the number of mature students returning to studies -- adding unprecedented competition among those vying for a place in their dream course.
But the CAO has urged students "not to panic" and emphasised the importance of reading their handbooks about the deadline for acceptances.
And as secondary students prepare for one of the most stressful days of their young lives, they are being reminded that help is just a text away.
By simply texting HEADSUP to 50424, students can access contact details and opening hours for a range of helpline and support services in areas that may be of concern to them.
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