Now that someone born in 2004 is scoring in the Premier League and Britney Spears Gimme More turns 15 this week, nothing makes me feel older than the annual release of Leaving Cert results.
Today thousands of teenagers across the country are getting this envelope – or is it online these days? – the results of months, even years of hard work and I of course remember my experience 14 years ago.
All my life I had been a bit of a teacher’s pet. I loved English and wanted to be some kind of writer from elementary school. I would like to take essays. I had a fondness for Irish and eagerly attended the Gaeltacht for four years in a row before accepting advanced Irish for the Leaving Cert. I did well in most subjects except physical education, which I actually gave up to take an additional final exam in religion. Yes, I was that girl. I’m not sure how I had friends to be honest.
So when it came to the morning results of 2008, you would think I would have been fine. I had studied hard. I’d spent most evenings in the library, reciting poetry and even memorizing essay points in the canteen of the supermarket where I worked on weekends.
I had submitted all of my college papers, including a history project on Freddie Mercury and linocuts in art that I’m sure were stained with my own blood.
All my teachers expected me to beat the exams out of the park, but I was scared. Nothing was more important then than college.
Sure, you’ve been told that there are other options when things don’t work out – my school was great at helping you explore options – but there was still a tone for “academic” students that dots the A and O be .
As I stood in the lobby of my high school, one of my teachers handed me the envelope with my name on it. “Congratulations,” she said before I even opened it.
As classmates jumped to the ground with their cell phones out to calculate their scores, I read my results aloud. I had done well. I got the credits I needed for my first choice – journalism and Irish at the Dublin Institute of Technology – and when the courses were offered soon after, I breathed a sigh of relief. Everything had worked.
But do I still think of the Leaving Cert as the big milestone I once made? no Getting my credits made it easier in terms of time to do the course I wanted and that course led to me getting a Masters which led to me getting night shifts at a national newspaper website which led to my dream career ( which has now, by the way, shifted into a whole new dream career). But did my life depend on these fateful points?
Absolutely not. I could have gotten to this point through level 6 courses or later journalism courses.
Some of the best writers I’ve met weren’t trained in the usual way. Some of the most successful people I’ve met in their field weren’t college graduates, or they changed careers entirely after college, or went on to post-school training, or took a year off.
There’s no blueprint for getting where you want to go, and the scoring system doesn’t recognize a student’s skill or creativity or bedside behavior—just how much they can remember in any given day. They don’t prove your worth.
If you do well on your exams, you should be proud of your work and how it paid off – I was proud of myself. But remember, it’s not the be-all and end-all, and points are not equal to a person.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/the-leaving-cert-terrified-me-but-it-isnt-the-be-all-and-end-all-41955135.html The Leaving Cert scared me, but it’s not the be-all and end-all