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Finished my Leaving Cert- feeling conflicted.

  • 23-06-2022 5:37pm
    Registered Users Posts: 3

    I need to pour this all out somewhere because I feel like I've ruined everything.

    I know I've not done great in most of my exams- especially my final Chemistry exam, which was a complete disaster in which I basically gave up mid-way through and left. I've calmed down these past few days but the guilt is still eating up inside me. This was all the fault of my own, I barely went to school or studied this year. It pains me considering how hard I worked throughout fifth year to get top marks and do well in my class tests, yet I somehow blew that out the one year I needed that drive...

    All my stupid short-sighted decisions have finally hit me like a truck as they have changed my life forever. My only options are repeating or grabbing the fifth or seventh choice offer I don't have the heart to do. Both are unappealing. I respect the hell out of people who take years out for various reasons, but I'm 19 at the moment and I've already felt old in comparison to the rest of my year. I know that college is for all ages and that there are even people in their 50's doing so, but I feel like it does put a damper on the "typical college experience" I'd like if I'll be 20 going into first year surrounded by 17-18-year-olds I can't relate to. I also don't think I can take the repeat well mentally, seeing my peers off to college enjoying life while I'm stuck at home for another year I should've never had to think about after these exams...

    I know these are all superficial concerns but it's still quite painful and I'm lost. I feel like in this short time I've managed to throw all the potential of having a nice life down the drain. I've wasted my potential... overall, I think I'll be sobbing my way through the rest of the summer.

    Post edited by spurious on


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Education Moderators Posts: 26,972 CMod ✭✭✭✭spurious

    dnkydress I have moved this to Personal Issues - I think you might get more helpful replies here.

    I know I am much older than you but believe me the years go by very quickly and I can guarantee you there will be older people in your college class, whenever you go.

    I could not tell you what age most of my friends are - after a while it really is not an issue

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,044 ✭✭✭sprucemoose

    couple of things:

    1. you may not have done as badly as you thought you have. thinking over the exam etc, usually leads to extra worry if youre already anxious/depressed etc,. try to put it out of your mind until you get your results
    2. if you have done less well than you potentially should have due to lack of effort, take it as a lesson and try and learn as much as you can from it, whether it be in preparation for repeating/ college/ whatever you choose to do next. whatever caused your problems in this year can definitely be fixed if you deal with it. this sort of thing messed up my college work massively and it will have impacts on my career for the next 10 or so years due to the nature of how my profession works. if you can learn to limit this happening to you in the future then it could honestly be one of the best things to happen to you, losing a year right now to repeat might mean saving years down the line.
    3. it sounds like there could be other issues contributing to your lack of 'drive' as you put it. youre obviously different but in my case alot of my procrastination was down to relatively severe anxiety and depression, when i started to deal with those the procrastination became less of a problem.
    4. i know this will most likely be the most common response to your post but its true, college courses generally have people of all ages and being a year (or two, or three, or four) older than is typical will honestly make zero difference. i was in a very small and intense studio-based course where we had a range of ages.\

    between now and when you get your results id try and figure out where the problem this year came from and try to put some structures in place to limit these impacts in the future. but overall, try not to worry too much between now and then, enjoy your summer as much as you can. theres nothing you can do about the exams until then anyway so try to put it to the back of your mind as best you can

    best of luck op

  • Registered Users Posts: 402 ✭✭Kurooi

    You need some perspective.

    When I was in uni it was all 18-25yos, rich kids took a year out holidaying, some others changed courses, some were repeating years. Being 20 is not weird. That will be the average. Then you get your first job, and again so many people are there having been through non related degrees, worked odd jobs. Even once settled into careers so many people completely start over and reinvent themselves from zero.

    School got you used to the idea that there is a 'best' straight path to a happy life and success, there never is. Learn your lesson, and push on. And be kind on yourself, trying to make your potential repeat a misery on yourself isn't a way to study. Relax, have down time, go out, exercise, eat, play, sleep.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,770 ✭✭✭✭fritzelly

    The LC is not the be all and end all of your life - there's more people with no qualifications who are more highly successful than there are those with a qualification - I would put out there that a qualification routes you to a life of singularity, boredom, job dissatisfaction and so on because you are committing yourself to do the same thing for the rest of your life

    How your life goes is more to do with your determination and drive - do what you love and put your all in to it

    Getting in to university/college is no guarantee you will ever go anywhere - a few years of real world experience can speak mountains more than "practical" experience in college and usually gets you further

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  • Registered Users Posts: 21,690 ✭✭✭✭Akrasia

    Don't worry at all about your age. There are loads of people beginning university in their early 20s. But also dont be afraid of the certs or diplomas side of the CAO form.

    Life is a marathon, not a sprint

    If you pick a good plc course that you enjoy it's a million times better than taking a university place for the sake of 'the university experience' and either dropping out or slogging it out to a degree in a career you have zero interest in.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,857 ✭✭✭Pissy Missy

    Sounds like you've put a lot of pressure on yourself OP, whether it's internal or influenced by your teachers/parents/siblings/friends is another thing.

    I hear you're taking responsibility but at the same time it sounds like you're putting a lot of blame on yourself which I imagine isn't making you feel much better about the situation, hopefully after processing this if not sooner, you can be kind to yourself/show some compassion/understanding just like you would if I a friend came to you with a similar scenario. I wonder if you burnt out when it came to the final year or if the pressure to do 'brilliant' got to you. I genuinely hope you did better than you think and if not, there are always other options like you've listed albeit prob not the most ideal but c'est la vie.

    It can be super frustrating when things don't go to plan and I know it feels like it now, but this has not changed your life forever. I repeated my LC (made new fab friends), I then took a much needed year out and started college at 19. Most of my friends were 20, 30 and 65 yrs old. I had a brill time going drinking with them, cinema nights, badminton etc. I rly don't think age is problematic. If anything I appreciated the 20 Yr olds more so than the 17 Yr olds as I found them more respectful and mature (I'm sure they're not all like that). I know you don't want to waste further time but I wonder would you be better off taking a year out to recharge your batteries and then repeating or doing a plc course as an alternative route the following year as you might feel more ready, though just a thought.

    These are not superficial concerns, they're real worries about your life, I'm sorry you're experiencing this but I promise you you are not wasted potential. I think the best thing you can do is allow yourself to feel sad and then when you're ready dust off the cobwebs and decide what the plan of action will be. Here if you ever want to talk.

    "Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck - Dalai Lama

  • Administrators Posts: 13,009 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    Do you know the drop out rate of 17/18 year olds who go into first year? It's huge!

    I remember my time in college, I was 19 starting, and so many courses had so many drop outs by Christmas. Some courses had lost 75% of their students by the end of the degree.

    Your age is totally and absolutely irrelevant. What is important is finding something that you are interested in and doing it. Without worrying about what others are doing. You don't mention your parents. Can you speak to them? Sometimes we can be afraid to speak to our parents, dreading their reaction. But if you speak honestly to them about how you are feeling, how you've struggled and how you are now upset and confused about a future then between you, you should be able to come up with a plan. Sometimes sharing and having someone else reassure you that you'll be OK is a huge weight lifted.

    Honestly.. In 5 years time how you did you in your leaving cert 2022 is going to be irrelevant.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,691 ✭✭✭Xterminator

    Hi OP

    there is a reason why your school attendance dropped off. there is a reason why you lost the motivation to study. these are key issues, and going straight to a college course your not mad about would be a recipe for disaster. you really need to address the issues in your life that caused you to all but give up.

    there is not only 1 route in life to success. there are so many examples of people who didn't do the whole school to college to job route to success. People like Alan Sugar, Stephen Spielberg, etc.

    So i think you need to sit down and think about why this year took shape the way it did. if your burnt out with school and exams then perhaps you should go to employment immediately and consider doing a part time course or postponing altogether until you are confidant you will be willing and able to dedicate the work needed to do well at your chosen course.

    I can personally attest that a couple of years in a customer service/ fast food type role can completely change your mindset on education and its role in advancing your career. In my case being a mature student meant i gave 100% effort in my course. I valued the opportunity and dedicated myself in a way i would never have when i left secondary school.

  • Registered Users Posts: 773 ✭✭✭ChannelNo5

    Have you considered taking another route? Would you be interested in a trade i.e. Electrician or carpenter for example? Is there anything in that sort of field that you think you'd be interested in? i'm not sure how it works now but if the likes of FAS is around today maybe have a look at their courses and see if anything interests you? even if you're focused on getting academic qualifications, you can do it over some years while working. I'm in my 40's now and got average leaving cert results. i did a FAS course in draughting, then worked as a CAD technician, then did an engineering degree and masters while working. Once id found what i wanted to do the exam pressure eased a bit and i could also get help from my colleagues with college work! Result!!

    I know you're looking forward to the "College experience" but there's little point in doing a course you've no interest in just to have that. you'll come out the other end with a useless degree or more likely drop out before that. There is nothing you can do about the results now so please don't sit crying all summer. Get a summer job. Earn a bit of spending money. Take a breath. Take your mind off thinking about it constantly.

    Overall please talk to somebody, if not your parents then someone a bit older who knows you well and can advise you on your options. You haven't ruined everything. There is no need to feel guilty.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,002 ✭✭✭Tork

    OP, you've been given a lot of great advice above. I just wanted to post to say that you should not, under any circumstances, allow your age concerns to guide your decisions. I can still remember what it was like to be a young person of your age (I'm not now 😂) and how I thought that people in their early 20s were ready to be put out to pasture. What you will find when you move on from school is that you will be mixing with people of different ages. I don't want to patronise you but your way of thinking about age is exactly what a secondary school kid with little life experience would say. You'll look back in a few years time and roll your eyes at what you were thinking at this time.

  • Registered Users Posts: 450 ✭✭Pistachio19

    You have until 1st July to change your CAO choices. Take the next few days to look at courses countrywide - some colleges will require less points for very similar courses than the bigger city colleges. Look up PLC courses as these can give you a flavour of what you might like. Apprenticeships are another option. You are by no means old. A lot of students are 19 starting college. There are probably lots who took a year out last year because of covid and could be older than you starting off this year. Don't let your age be a factor.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,751 ✭✭✭✭BattleCorp

    I was 45 when I went back to college. You are only 19. Give yourself a break.

  • Registered Users Posts: 818 ✭✭✭radiotrickster

    OP, don’t worry about your age. When I was in college a few years back, there were a lot of people in my course who did a year or two of another course, dropped out and went on to try that one.

    There was also a good few people who did PLCs, there were mature students and there were students from abroad of different ages too.

    I would say 50% of the course came directly from school and the rest came from different routes or applied through the CAO as non-school leavers.

    Once you get to college, nobody is going to ask you what age you are so if you want to repeat the Leaving Cert, go for it and don’t let age put you off.

  • Registered Users Posts: 153 ✭✭Wezz

    I failed my exams, spent a few years on benefits pissing my life up against the wall, took a few dead end jobs to spend on drink. Then at 25 I had a moment where I thought I have to get my **** together and so I went back to college at 27. Had a ball, made some great friends and graduated. In a good job now and very happy. Some people would say those early years were a waste but I learned a hell of a lot about myself and I’m glad I didn’t rush into college

    The point of that autobiography is this. Not everyone has their life mapped out from secondary school. Not everyone is going to know what they want to do with their lives at 19 and you don’t need to. You have time now to explore different options and find out what it is you really want to do with your life.

    Talk to your parents, tell them how you feel. Have options so you can reassure them that you don’t plan to doss at home. And don’t be worrying about your age. There are as many mature students in college now as there are school leavers. You won’t be the odd man out.

  • Registered Users Posts: 995 ✭✭✭airy fairy

    I've a son who did the leaving cert a few years back, he was 19 going to his college course. He's heading into his 3rd year now, 75% of the class has dropped out, and he is the youngest in his course now. They are all 1 to 3 years older with the odd mature person thrown in. And I can honestly say, it was only a few weeks ago he mentioned their ages as a passing remark, it took him 2 years to tell me such is the importance of age!

    Don't let age stop you doing anything, college, or indeed life outside school, isn't about what age you are. You are entering a world where maturity will define you, and your age is now nothing to do with what you will do in the future.

    You've a few days left for change of mind in CAO. Go figure out what the course or plc interests you. Forget about the points right now, perhaps chemistry is now going to be your 7th subject and look at courses that do not need a requirement for chemistry.

    If there's a particular course you want, maybe posting here and someone here can help figuring out a backdoor way to getting that course by choosing your next few choices in CAO.

    It's good you've posted about what's happened, you're not sticking your head in the sand and now showing maturity, which is only a good thing.

    (I've a daughter doing the leaving and still in the pressure zone as she's not yet completed it, so I know your head is mangled right now, give yourself a break, it's been a tiring few weeks).

  • Administrators Posts: 13,009 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    Something else to consider is with most people starting school now at 5, and transition year being a choice for many, starting college at 19 is more the norm than starting at 17.

    Do not take a course you are not interested in just to start college. You'll end up one of the drop out statistics. Your age is irrelevant. Totally irrelevant. Ironically, you're not old enough to appreciate that yet!

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,799 ✭✭✭✭Donald Trump

    Your friends in college won't necessarily be the ones who share classes with you. Generally, most of the friends you leave college with are not from your class

    You're not going to be the only 20 year old on campus. Even if you were, who would notice? It's not like school where your movements are fairly controlled.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,486 ✭✭✭✭Danzy

    First off, the leaving cert never changed anyone's life forever.

    You can repeat, you can get to the course by other routes.

    You need to step back from this mentally.

    The leaving cert is such a big deal when in it, when within a short time, you realize how irrelevant it is to your life.

    That's never fully understood by students, not till a few years later.

  • Moderators, Politics Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 14,001 Mod ✭✭✭✭Quin_Dub

    Just to follow up on the post from Hekker above.

    There are so many alternative pathways now that the leaving cert is not the "single point of failure" it once was.

    I know of someone that actually ended up not even sitting their leaving cert having dropped out of school after Christmas in 6th year due to mental health issues.

    They found an accredited QQI level 5 course in their area of interest and did that for the year - The diploma from that course got them direct access to their preferred University course the following year and they are now approaching graduation.

    Don't beat yourself up at all.

    Take a little time to reset and then do a little bit of investigation on the various options - For a lot of those QQI L5 courses you can apply right now and have a place locked in before you get any results.

    Once you have your actual results in hand you can re-evaluate the options and move forward.

    There are so many options that are going to be open to you.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 27,411 ✭✭✭✭looksee

    I agree with the suggestion of considering a PLC, they are a great stepping stone from school to college and the age range is from 18 up to pretty much no limit. Whatever you decide to do, don't base anything on your age, it is irrelevant in your situation, and when you get to college or whatever you decide to do - including work - you mostly won't have any idea what age people are beyond a vague idea of a decade, unless they tell you.

  • Registered Users Posts: 127 ✭✭emmaro

    The grades are supposed to be curved to match last year's calculated grades, which were quite high with extremely low failure rates. Chances are you will do much better than you expected.

  • Registered Users Posts: 823 ✭✭✭Liberty_Bear

    Know what I would do OP - take a year out and take up a job for six months that pays ok (if living at home you might be able to save). Save up a fund and go travel Europe for six months or a year. Do a course in teaching English (TEFL) and or look for some casual work to supplement your money. This breather will give perspective for a few months and you might find something that clicks. For the records, I went into the civil service at 25 and got a job I love. Even more so now as I worked my way up. Sincerely hope you find your way mate.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3 dnkydress

    Hi, thanks everyone for the responses and suggestions! I've really appreciated them and taken them into account over the summer.

    I got my LC results a few days ago. My points were in the mid 400's and I could probably get my 3rd choice (we'll see in a few days!). However, I've spent all summer evaluating this past year and I'm 99% decided I'm going to repeat and take the year out. Of course it's disappointing, but I feel like it's the best option for me in the long run mentally (and also financially). I've had a difficult year and I wouldn't have felt ready to take such a leap even if I had achieved my desired results.

    I hope I can make this time count, seeing all my friends have their hard work pay off makes me think that it's worth it for me too.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,297 ✭✭✭SAMTALK

    this is probably the best course of action for you if you have not 100% decided what you really want to do.

    There is no rush, whats an extra year in your lifetime

    Best of luck to you in the future

  • Registered Users Posts: 153 ✭✭ChickenDish

    You got in the mid 400's, imagine what you will get once you apply yourself. Repeating is a good decision and will give you an opportunity to hit the ball out of the park - good luck OP.

  • Registered Users Posts: 894 ✭✭✭TheadoreT

    I think a lot of us felt that overriding sense of doom about the LC when we were doing it. Almost 20 years on I still get the odd nightmare. But it's really not that important, nor is college tbh, most people end up in career paths very far from what they studied and the road to success in most fields is rarely what you thought when you were 18.

    If you do take the year out make sure you don't go into a shell. Stay social and force yourself out of comfort zone in that regard if you have any anxieties surrounding that. Confidence in expression and emotional intelligence are far more important skills to learn to navigate the real world in future.

  • Registered Users Posts: 555 ✭✭✭laoisgem

    OP fair play to you, you know what you want and are working your way towards it. I left school after my junior cert, had a child a 16. I own my own house (still paying for it but isn't everyone!), have my own car, work full time in the civil service but working my way up the ladder. At the end of the day it's still only a piece of paper. I wish you every success and I'd be very proud to call you my child having the wherewithal at your age 😊