When the leaving certificate is finished, the dog-eared books full of highlighter marks that have been many student’s constant companions for the past year, will be stuffed away into cupboards to gather dust. Notes will be thrown out and pencil cases that had been crammed with lots of spare pens and tippex for the exams will be left lonely for the summer, as students all over the country will celebrate the freedom of having completed one of the biggest and most important exams of their lives.
While it’s most definitely tempting to forget about the exams altogether and enjoy the relaxation of being exam free, it is important to have a look back over the choices you made in the CAO now too. You have up until July 1st to review and change the choices you have made and it is well worth your while making sure that you are fully happy and certain with your decisions. The exams themselves are obviously a big deal, but it’s the choices you make on your CAO that will ultimately decide your future at the end of the summer.
Earlier in the year, after research into various courses and career paths, you picked up to twenty courses and listed them in your order of preference. These courses have probably been swimming around in the back of your mind when you sat your exams; reminding you why every point you could get was vital and, more importantly, how there would be life after your exams. However, even if you were certain at the time of what you wanted to do, now is still a good opportunity to make sure that you are completely happy with how you have planned out your future.
Firstly, it is important to make sure that the choices you have made are yours and yours alone. It’s easy to be swayed by those around us; from parents, teachers and friends, but at the end of the day, they will not be the ones doing your course and living your life in the college years to come. Just because all your friends are going to do the same course or going to the same college, doesn’t mean that it’s right for you. Parents obviously only want the best for their children but what they might think is interesting may not be what makes you tick at all. Just remember that you will be the one attending the lectures, doing the exams and ultimately, working in the job.
Going with a choice that you are not fully certain of will only cause you a lot more hassle down the line and more money too. If you are not fully interested or committed to what you are studying, chances are you will not enjoy the lectures and find the exams difficult too. When you enjoy what you’re doing, you are always more motivated and, in turn, more successful than those who are forcing themselves through the motions. If college is a struggle then working in that field will only be worse and no one wants to spend their life in a job they hate.
Sure, there are plenty of options these days and people drop out of and change courses all the time, but I’m sure if you asked those people, they would tell you that they would’ve preferred to have known what they wanted to do at the start. It costs money to change to a new course, money that most of us these days just don’t have. Even if you decide to stick with a course that you don’t really like, chances are you will find the course more difficult than if it had been something you enjoyed and this may lead to failing exams and repeating years which again means more money.
One more thing to bear in mind when reviewing your choices; don’t let exam doubt creep in and change your mind for the wrong reasons. If you had a certain course chosen and you feel an exam didn’t go well and that you won’t have enough points as a result, best to put those doubts away with your school books and old notes. We are all our own worst critics and it is quite possible that the exam went better than you imagine. Aim high and make sure your chosen courses really spark a genuine interest in you.
So really, is it that much of an inconvenience to check and review your CAO choices over the next few days when the alternative is much more stressful and complicated? Right now you have the exciting opportunity to create your future and pick the career that you will have. Take a look through your list, take a look through the courses on this website and make sure you have put down courses that will almost make you look forward to dusting off that pencil case at the end of the summer.