Putting things into perspective:

Tomorrow nervous leaving cert students from the class of 2015 will turn up to schools to collect their Leaving cert results. We all hope that these students all will get the points that you need and thankfully, many will. However the real fact is that some won’t get the required points for their chosen courses and there will be disappointed households.

I believe there is an overemphasis on the Irish Leaving Cert. It’s a one way street that supports ‘learn and churn’ and one that devalues other needed skills in our society. It’s important to get things into perspective. There are many different ways to achieve your goals.

No person is defined by their Leaving Cert results. This exam does not test for integrity, respect, honesty, passion, humanity, caring, flexibility, critical thinking and problem solving, resilience, coping and bouncing back from adversity,  emotional intelligence, and team working,  The academic path is not the path for all. Around this time we need to reduce our over-indulgence in high point scoring and identify that there are many different paths for all.

I am not a guidance counsellor but as a clinical psychologist I have seen 1000’s of people with many varied careers.  This gives me a unique perspective on career and course choices as I often see Leaving Cert students to guide them if they are confused about which course to take so that they do not join the 16% who drop out of college in Year 1 as they have chosen a course they hate or is not suited to their learning style.

First off if you have received the results you hoped for, congratulations. This is a time for celebration and for you to be proud of yourself and the hard work you have put in. However the wait still remains to see if you’re offered your preferred choice on the CAO. During this period try and remain calm and try not to speculate too much. Don’t get your hopes up too much as points for courses tend to change most years depending on the demand.

On the other hand there will be some of you who are very dissatisfied and some distressed with their results. It is extremely important that you do not let disappointing results dominate your thoughts. Worry is circular and will not go away unless you put it into perspective, the CAO offers will be out in a week or so and you will more than likely have some offers and options at this time.

When the CAO offers do come out and if you are not offered your first choice, then its about being flexible.  Life is about being flexible and being able to adapt to situations, now you are able to look at other options. No need to make definite decisions as there will be two more rounds of CAO offers to come. Every year, particularly after the first round offers, vacant places are advertised. These are courses that have not been filled by earlier applicants to the CAO system. The key is not to jump without thinking and asking yourself “is this course really for me? “does it suit my learning style – ie taking a language based course if you are maths/science based and visa versa? – you don’t want to be stuck doing something you hate for the next 3-4years.


If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of receiving no offers, please do not stress, there are plenty of other alternatives to consider. There has never been so many positive alternatives for Leaving Certificate students as there is today.  Your first step is to talking to someone who has some experience with such predicaments. Try and go to your School Principal or Career Guidance Teacher (if they are still in your school – it was an absolute disgrace that these posts were taken out of the system and I appeal that they should be restored immediately), who will provide you with any information you need.

Appealing Results

For many students they may think that their results did not reflect their work or how well they though they did on exam day, if so you can arrange a viewing of the script, usually with your teacher and then an appeal. Talk to your school about how to do this.


You might want to consider post leaving cert courses. PLC courses offer a mixture of practical work, academic work and work experience. A wide range of disciplines are covered including business, electronics engineering, computing, catering, sport and leisure, theatre and stage, performance art, art craft and design, equestrian studies, multi-media studies, journalism, tourism, marketing, childcare and community care, hairdressing and beauty care, applied science, and horticulture.

New Courses

Often new courses will be advertised by individual colleges and Institutes, generally throughout August and September. These courses were not approved in time to go into the Official CAO system, so therefore a student applies directly to the institution.


Having explored other options probably the final one is repeating of the Leaving Cert. Now the thoughts of doing this is totally unpleasant, but with the right will and effort it will be worth it. To support this choice you need to figure out how to strengthen your performance by being focusing on where your performance was weak, so viewing your scripts is the way to go. Set you plan and focus from the beginning of the year. Have a clear vision of what you want and you will be successful.

Got Questions about your results? Did you achieve the points you require? What do you want to do next? The National Parents Council Post Primary, run a Helpline every year for Students, Parents and advisors. The HelpLine: 1800 265 165.