NCI’s Rob Ward shares his advice on what to do if your points don’t add up to what you’d hoped for.
It’s Leaving Cert results day and emotions are high. There are people who are celebrating and there are people who are wondering what went wrong. Whatever camp you’re in, know this: it will be ok.
There are always other options
So what do you do if you don’t get the points that you hoped for? Well, the first step is not to panic. There are a whole host of other options out there for you, and you can still get to where you want to be - you might just have to take a different route to get there.
For example, you may be offered an alternative CAO course, which could actually suit you better in the long run. You can apply for a re-check of your results, or you can repeat the Leaving Cert next year.
Higher Certificates as an alternative route
However, if you have your heart set on a particular course, this is what worked for me: I first did a certificate, which I used to gain entry to a degree.
I did my Leaving Certificate back in 1990, at the Christian Brothers in Crumlin. I wasn’t convinced I’d get the points for a degree, but I knew I wanted to do marketing.
So I applied for a Certificate in Business, which led on to a Diploma in Management. I worked hard to get the grades I needed to get into the third year of a four year marketing degree.
NCI's Higher Certificate in Business, Higher Certificate in Computing Applications and Support or Higher Certificate in Business Computing could be a good option, as they offer a clear path on to degree courses at NCI and other institutions.
National Framework of Qualifications
It’s even easier now than it was in my day, thanks to the introduction of the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) in 2003. Prior to that, it could be quite tricky to compare and contrast the level and standard of different qualifications.
The National Framework of Qualifications provides a clear ladder for people to progress all the way up through the different levels of qualification. A key outcome was that progression routes are now clearer than ever – this is the process for students to move from a programme at one level on the framework onto a further programme at a higher level.
Many third level institutions will now allow students who have completed a Higher Certificate to transfer into the second year of the aligned degree programme, providing they graduate with 50% or more. The points are usually far lower for the Higher Certificate programmes, so this can be a good solution.
Keep moving forward with a PLC course
Post Leaving Certificate courses also offer an alternative entry route into a higher education programme. You will gain a FETAC award (now made through Quality and Qualifications Ireland) which can lead into employment, or which can be used to apply again through the CAO next year.
Whatever you decide to do, remember this: you’re not defined by one set of exam results. Stay positive, think through your options and focus on getting to where you want to be.
Robert Ward is Director of Student Recruitment at National College of Ireland; a version of this post first appeared in the Irish Independent. Still have questions? Call the Leaving Certificate Helpline on 1800 265 165.