Students should stay calm and take time to consider all options, says guidance counsellor

Students should stay calm and take time to consider all options, says guidance counsellor

Helen Kelleher speaks with Lisa Daunt, guidance counsellor at Kinsale Community College.

Stay calm and look at all the available options. There are many different routes and courses that you can take to embark on the career choice you desire.

That is the advice of Lisa Daunt, guidance counsellor at Kinsale Community School.

While students can view their Leaving Certificate results online using the State Examinations Commission (SEC) Online Results service on Tuesday, August 13, Lisa says it is important that students also visit their school on this day and meet with their guidance counsellor, their teachers and their classmates.

“Teachers and guidance counsellors will be on hand on the day to answer questions about the results and any questions students or their parents might have about the college applications.

"It is important to look at all the options and seek expert advice so students understand the system and decide what is the best route for their career choice.”

There is very little time this year (just two days to be exact) between receiving the Leaving Certificate results and receiving the first round of CAO offers on Thursday, August 15 — “students will know where they stand very quickly this year”.

Lisa advises: “If you don’t get your first choice then check out what are the other options open to you and remember you may be offered other choices in the coming weeks. You will find that things can change for instance last year Business at College Institute of Technology (CIT) common entry went from 296 points in 2017 to 240 points in 2018.

If you are looking at Science or Business degrees, there is a large range of level 7 and 6 options and some of these lead to Level 8 courses where you get an opportunity to specialise.

“If a law degree is your first preference but the points aren’t achieved, you could, for instance, decide to study a Diploma in Legal Studies as a gateway to the degree or prepare a direct entry application to a degree course with an independent college or institution.

“With nursing, for example, you could do a PLC in pre-nursing and you will you be able to proceed onto nursing in UCC the following year.

“If you are looking at Accounting, Finance or IT and you don’t get the course you want you might find an apprenticeship in this area which really suits people who like to learn by doing and you can take an evening course in a year or two”.

Check out websites such as www.qualifax.com and www.careersportal.ie for details of the full range of FET courses nationwide and progression routes into HE (Higher Education) from these courses.

If you remain determined to get on a particular or high-points course then repeating the Leaving will probably be the default option for you but if you are still open-minded about your future career goals and are willing to do a bit more research, you can find a route to a college and a course that will meet your needs.

“Remember that third level isn’t the be-all and end-all. There have never been more opportunities for young people following the completion of their Leaving Cert.

Further education (FE) offers students with strong aptitudes in specific disciplines — such as science, engineering, IT — who may not have performed strongly in other Leaving Cert subjects the opportunity to progress directly into their desired course following a high performance in their PLC programme.

Lisa advises students to look at PLC (Post-Leaving Cert) options which offer great one-year to two-year courses which can lead to jobs or be a great stepping stone to University or IT degree courses and she says there are some great opportunities in Cork with Cork College of Commerce and Coláiste Stiofán Naofa (CSN) which was awarded ‘Best Further Education Provider’ at the 2019 Education Awards, St. John’s Central College and Kinsale College to mention just a few.

Further education offers students entry into a wide range of hands-on practical occupational areas like travel and tourism, fire and ambulance and beauty.

Lisa took the PLC route and enrolled in a three-year Diploma in Business Studies at Cork College of Commerce. Eight years later she decided to go into teaching.

“I think that we are in the era of portfolio careers meaning students will probably change career several times and that is something we need to remember. My advice to students is to pick a course you are interested in”.

Apprenticeship programmes are another great option and they are offered not just in traditional craft areas but in a whole range of new sectors such as tourism, insurance, financial services, IT, accounting and hotels — with a growing number of apprenticeships in construction and agriculture and farming now under accreditation.

Check out websites like www.apprenticeships.ie and www.careersportal.ie for an overview of choices available.

Europe may be worth considering. Thousands of Irish students are now securing places in EU universities in faculties and on courses that would be beyond their reach in Ireland due to the high CAO entry points.

Details on all these programmes are available on www.eunicas.ie and look at courses in the UK through www.ucas.com.

Once students are fully happy that they have selected their next move, either through the CAO system or otherwise, it is time to start thinking about practical requirements.

Top of the list for many in this regard will be accommodation and indeed some will already have made plans to secure appropriate and affordable accommodation.

Lisa says trust your instincts, don’t be overinfluenced by the plans of others — particularly your friends plans — “you will make lots of new friends, wherever and whatever you end up studying”.

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