I’m sure most of us remember the day of the Leaving Cert results quite clearly. Few events strike such fear and anticipation into the hearts of 17 and 18 year olds. It’s been 7 years since mine and I still picture it like it was yesterday.
In my school, the ‘debs’ was always held 2 nights before the results – a nice idea, everyone at that stage is on an even level of waiting, wondering and hoping for the future. I was an exception to the rule, if you will. I was living in Dublin that summer working as an intern in my cousin’s e-learning company. I went home for the debs celebrations but returned to Dublin for work. I was as apprehensive as the next and figured being in a room full of girls in the same boat would be just hell.
So I got my results over the phone from my principal. Which was ok I guess except she started with my lowest result and worked her way up. She hadn’t informed me of this decision so I sat with my jaw on the board room table listening to ‘C3‘ and ‘C1‘ and imaginig the hell of having to repeat another year in the school.
After I hung up the phone I sat staring at my results scribbled on a notepad. I thought about the work I had put in, the sleepless nights anticipating the exams, the results, what would happen after the results and it all came down to a bunch of letters and numbers on a page that I couldn’t decipher I was so overwhelmed. I cried. I was focusing in on the worst grades and presuming I hadn’t nearly enough for my college course of choice.
I got the receptionist to convert the grades into points with me as I couldn’t even see straight. We somehow got 500 points. Jaw drops again. By now the phone is hopping – mother wants to know how her first born has done. I tell her. Her jaw drops. I figure it’s too good to be true so I go back and add again. 475 this time. Points even with the requirement for Multimedia at DCU, my first choice on the CAO. Call mother again, inform of miscalculation. More tears. Then back to work.
The week that followed waiting on the CAO points list was the slowest week of my life. If points went up, I was probably going to Cork. If they went down, it was DCU. If they stayed the same as the previous year – maybe DCU, maybe Cork. Who knows?
The following Wednesday I was up at 5am, checking the points list. 455 for Multimedia at DCU. Relief, happiness, disbelief, anti-climax.
About a week later after speaking to friends who hadn’t had such a happy experience and didn’t get their first preference, I realised that at the end of the day, I would still have ended up getting into what I wanted to do somehow. I would have figured something out. The Leaving Cert and all that surrounds it is over-hyped and puts unrealistic pressure on people too young to be expected to face a question like “what do you want to do for the rest of your life?” There’s so much about the system I would love to change and part of me would love to go into career guidance just to save so many some of the stress and anxiety they experience during the Leaving Cert year.
If you’re getting your results today, I hope you are chuffed with what you get. Congratulations, you’ve no doubt worked hard for it. If you’re not jumping up and down or worried or distraught about it, try not to let it get to you – it’s a horrible and sometimes patronising cliche but there really is life after the Leaving Cert. Take a step back, take some time out and try get some distance from it all. You will work something out and you don’t have to figure it all out today.