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Leaving Certificate – Ten Years On

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This time ten years ago, I collected my Leaving Certificate results. I went to the school alone, picked up my envelope, left and walked a safe distance away before I dared look inside. My first choice was Electronic Engineering in UCD, which required a C3 in Maths. I was unwell the morning of one of the Maths papers. As a result, I was so worried I had scrrewed it up. I had to check I was reading the right line at least 15 times before I’d believe that I got a B.

I am one of those people who got the course I wanted the morning of the CAO first round offers. If there are any recent exam students rolling your eyes at me being one of the smart kids who got what I wanted – bear with me.

Like many students, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when it came to filling out the CAO. I liked Maths – yes, I’m one of those people. I also liked English, but Arts degrees don’t come with a set job path post-graduation. Eventually, it came down to Electronic Engineering or Computer Science, and I chose the former.

So, I went and I did my four years. I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it. During the course I realised that I preferred the Computer Science modules, so I did a Masters in Software Development immediately after I finished. I went from that into a fantastic job with a great salary and all of the wonderful things you’re supposed to want.

And then I had a breakdown.

The details of that are for another blog post. In summary: I had to leave the job and move back home. Subsequently, I spent a number of years making a living from entering competitions. Doing interviews made me realise more and more that I wanted something different from the life I had planned. So, eventually, I set up this place.

That’s right, I went from Electronic Engineering to running an online mental health community. I even went back and did another course in UCD – Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise. Yes, there are details of the intervening years that led me towards this, but they don’t really matter.

What matters is, this time ten years ago, I got my leaving certificate results. I thought I had my whole life planned out, and that I was on exactly the right path towards achieving it. Now, I’ve come to realise that I was on the right path towards achieving what was right for me, I just had absolutely no idea what that would turn out to be.

In addition, it’s not just me. I’ve met people who have had fantastic careers, and now with their families grown are looking for a complete change.

No one has it all figured out at 18. I don’t have it all figured out at 28. I don’t know if any of us ever really figure it all out. Enjoy what you’re doing while you’re doing it. If you come to realise you don’t enjoy it – do something else.

If you are an exam student, everything up until now has been about this exam. Now, you have the whole rest of your life ahead of you. It will take you in directions you can’t even imagine yet.

Above all, no matter the results, I wish you congratulations on getting through it. This is the beginning of the next chapter. Go and enjoy it!

If you need advice after your Leaving Certificate Results – you can call the freephone helpline on: 1800-265-165. If you need advice after A-Level results, you can call 0800 100 900. We also have a list of helplines or you can seek advice on our forums or chatroom.

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