Friday, November 27, 2020

Where does it go from here ?

So, the Leaving Cert results and CAO offers are out and the next step to take can leave students in a state of angst and perhaps confusion as they work their way through choices that they believe will pave their future. The weighing up all your options, one step at a time approach is the best way forward and there’s always help at hand to guide you through these next important steps in life.

Some people go through entire decades of their life not knowing if they are on the correct career path so it’s important to recognise that you, in your youth, may not be the only one! Remember that there’s no need for panic or hasty decisions, committing to studies or careers you’re unsure of or feel pressurised to go along with. Move ahead with caution once you have assessed the path that you feel most comfortable with.

We all have words of wisdom we impart to the young and my tuppence worth is based on words from my Irish teacher, who always told us ‘write about what you know’. The same principal applies to your future – pick one that you know or may have exposure to, or are comfortable with or eager to learn more about. There’s no point in doing degrees in accountancy if you hate maths but mixing and matching courses and adding a few useful extras, such as learning a language, can land you with a dream job in years to come.

I didn’t get the points I wanted
So you almost made it but didn’t. It’s not the end of the world so don’t dwell on it and rearrange your plans to suit. Firstly, double check to ensure no mistakes were made in your marking so you can rule out appealing your grades. If you’re completely disheartened, consider taking a year out – taking up an apprenticeship, or a local job opportunity or doing some voluntary work may give you the perspective needed. There are many options available and if you’re determined enough, repeat your Leaving Certificate if possible, especially if you’re aiming for something you really want to do. Importantly though, keep in contact with you career guidance counsellor from secondary school and explore all options. Keep your family informed as they often can give the best advice also. Don’t give up though and use this opportunity as a stepping stone to something greater.

Get Involved
Apart from the academic side of college, there is so many more benefits to taking the leap into third-level education. It offers independent living, for most the first time in their life living away from home. Creating life-long friendships with a new circle of classmates or housemates is something many college students treasure forever. College sports teams are a great way of excelling in your chose sports field and again can offer another circle of friends. From Yu-Gi-Oh trading cards to sports and everything in between – there is a club for everyone in college. Beyond being a great outlet, societies offer new ways to meet people and network beyond your course. And did we mention – they make your CV stand out to future employers!

Get Experience Early
Graduate recruitment is highly competitive and some employers host recruitment ‘milk rounds’ from February. To stand out, consider summer internships and placements which are relevant to your course, from first year. A graduate CV with real experience speaks for itself and will get you noticed!
If you are starting college this year or returning to college Croí Laighean offers flexible loan terms and one of the lowest interest rates on student loans in Ireland (6.17% APR). They provide decisions within 24 hours, so you don’t have to wait for certainty. Their lending team in branch can be contacted on 1800 23 24 25 or to learn more, or apply online visit

The Financial Burden
College is expensive – fees, accommodation and books add up quickly. You can use savings or apply for a grant, but this reduces funds for the year and not everyone is eligible. Croí Laighean CU offer personal loans and loan top ups (subject to T&Cs) to cover all of this! With flexibility to suit your budget, you can borrow and still enjoy the full college experience.

Going back to school and college can be a costly time and families often find that their euros don’t stretch as far as they would like them to. With flexible easy repayment options and incentives to save, Athlone Credit Union is just a phone call away to affordably that helps you with all your financial needs.
Your local credit union is a great place to consider for help with borrowing that extra bit of finance to get all your educational needs seen to. Athlone Credit Union offers online loan application services or members can apply in branch with their dedicated loans officers. We have many national and regional incentives for saving and by availing of an education loan with Athlone Credit Union you can even stand the chance of winning an Apple iPad!
Don’t forget that your Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi) Grant can be paid directly into your Credit Union account. To give you an approximate idea of repayments, check out their online loan calculator (
Whether you are a member of Athlone Credit Union or not, they will do their best to assist you with joining up and availing of their convenient education loan services. Give them a call today on 090 647 2497.

Keeping costs to a minimum is always advisable and so if it is a factor that determines your choice of study or course, take all options into account such as cost of transport, accommodation, cost of living in the area you will live, university costs, etc and check locally to see if the same choices are available. Living at home may not suit your student lifestyle but it certainly helps keep costs to a minimum, so long as your family are in agreement and you ideally offer some amount for weekly housekeeping.
Count yourself lucky you’re not in countries like The Netherlands, where young adults are ‘expected’ to move out of the family home as soon as they go to college!

College is not for me
You may feel that college is not for you and that you just want to go out and make money, in which case an apprenticeship may serve you perfectly – you get exposure to the working world while learning a trade and earning an income from recognised professionals in the business. More often than not, you may find the apprenticeship is in your own hometown, meaning you don’t have to travel far and your expenditure can be kept to a minimum. Check out apprenticeship options in the place you would most like to work, making sure to enquire directly to companies in case it is not advertised or visible online. In the midlands, there are several companies that offer apprenticeships, many of which are recognised worldwide. There are likely to be a few smaller businesses who would also be happy to take on apprentices; garages, carpenters, farmers. Weigh up what suits you best and pursue that option.

Hair & Beauty training that can take you worldwide
If you’ve considered a career in hair and beauty, the International College of Beauty by Mairin G has extensive experience that you can tap into through one of their upcoming courses, many of which are unisex. Their Barbering International Diploma started last Monday, 7th September. It offers you the opportunity to join one of the fastest growing industries in the Hair & Beauty business. This International College has offered many courses over the years and are very excited about their latest Barbering Course. Starting in October is their popular Gel Nail Course. This offers students practical experience and on completion students have the knowlege and skills to take their trade anywhere in the world.

Also in October, is the college’s CIBTAC accredited Fashion & Photographic Makeup Artistry Course and their CIBTAC Beauty Therapy Course – Skin Treatments, Nail Treatments and Waxing.
There has been huge growth in the Irish entertainment and cosmetic industry, increasing the employment opportunities of qualified and skilled make-up artists. The cosmetic and film industry place high demands on make-up artists and our course will provide you with the skills required for this exciting and challenging industry. This all embracing creative part-time course is specifically designed to completely equip you with the necessary tools to work in all areas of Media Make-up. Your portfolio will prepare you for work in the retail and fashion industry – brands, catwalk, catalogue and editorial. All courses are grant enabled and payment plans are available. If you have any queries about any of the courses on offer from the International College of Beauty by Mairin G, you can call them on 087 920 9545, email or check out their website:

PLC- a back-up plan or the smart stepping stone
An overview of PLC pathway from LOETB Adult Educational Guidance and Information Service

If you applied to CAO as a school leaver or a mature student, then the deed is done, the choices are made and the deadline passed. Have you made the correct choices, did you get the points? These questions lead applicants to consider PLCs as a back up. A PLC is far more than a back- up, it may be the smarter stepping stone to success. Students may opt to go directly to third level to follow friends, meet parental and teacher expectations or simply because it is the perceived next step. Each year over 6,000 students drop out, almost 15% of first years. This may be due to poor course choice, academic issues or simply taking the leap too soon. A PLC course may be the smart stepping stone to successful transition to third level.

After two years of study for the Leaving Certificate (sometimes in subjects you didn’t enjoy) you secure your CAO points and go to college. If you have researched carefully, you will know your course content but, if you haven’t researched, then you may be surprised or worse, overwhelmed by the course content. Who knew that computer science was more than playing a PS4 or that science had so much maths? What exactly is critical thinking, referencing and plagiarism? Words which may strike fear in many a first year student, whether they are a school leaver or a mature student. The other scenario is that you didn’t get a CAO course and are now wondering what to do. Consider a PLC, every year colleges have unfilled PLC pathway places.

PLC- Smart Stepping Stone
A PLC offers a chance to prepare, to focus on a specific area, to research and for mature students to reconnect with education. Science for example offers biology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, communications, laboratory skills and a minimum of 10 days on a relevant work placement. You will realise science can lead to the study of agricultural science, food science, biochemistry, biomedical or indeed clinical measurement science. A PLC allows you to make an informed decision for your future. PLCs are available nationwide across various disciplines including Business, Healthcare, Engineering, Science, I.T, Art, Nursing Studies, Social Studies, Childcare, Digital Creative Media, Sport & Recreation, Hair & Beauty, Hotel & Restaurant Skills and Security.

No stress!
Of all the advice you will be offered during this time, no stress are probably the most important two words to remember. Take one day and one issue at a time and believe that everything will work out just as it is meant to. Always remember that what you invest, you get back so do your best as that is all that is expected of anyone. Don’t over-think things to a point where you are confused and worried about your future and above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel you need it. In the words of the beautiful ‘Desiderata’ poem by Max Erhmann, “enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time”.
Topic wishes you every success for your future!

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