Sarah Geraghty on... the class of 2014

If you don’t get the points you wanted, keep calm. One more year to get what you really want is no disaster. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you don’t get the points you wanted, keep calm. One more year to get what you really want is no disaster. Photograph: Thinkstock

Sat, Aug 2, 2014, 01:00

Dear Leaving Cert class of 2014, can you imagine yourself in 10 years? Can you even imagine yourself 10 days from now? Hello? The night before your Leaving Cert results?

We remembered it all at our 10-year school reunion in December. Mount Sackville class of 2003 – a bit glossier now but mostly the same girls from the days when our entire lives seemed to hinge on CAO points. We wanted to be architects, nurses, artists, businesswomen, musicians, speech therapists, journalists, beauticians, scientists, cooks, dentists, doctors, actors, directors, pharmacists and teachers.

What happened us in the 10 years in between? Everything. But a lot of it didn’t come close to that great master plan. The speech therapist now works for Facebook. The microbiologist has reinvented herself as a yoga teacher. The astrophysicist who volunteered for a summer in India now works for a children’s charity. The one who defied the guidance counsellor’s advice to lower her Leaving Cert aspirations hung tight to her ambition to qualify as an accountant and is now a senior manager with Deloitte in London.

For some, it wasn’t exactly a smooth run. My parents were still congratulating themselves on nurturing their first child into third level when I threw them a curveball and broke the news that I’d failed first year.

It’s all clear to me now. I just reel back to that glorious October day when it clicked that I didn’t have to go to that tutorial . . . or any tutorial. Or any lecture.

The June exams were a disaster, followed up with a warning from the French and linguistics departments that there would be no second year if I failed the August repeat.

Let’s just say the course didn’t sing to me. Yet there I was on a September day, stunned at the inevitable result on the arts block noticeboard, my oldest friend beside me, (discreetly) clueless as to how anyone could fail first-year arts.

The aftermath was grim – banging down the doors of scary department heads begging them to review this catastrophic miscarriage of justice. And the really hard bit . . . realising that my friends would carry on and graduate together. And I’d be back at the start. Alone. Repeating the year “off books”. This is a way of placating parents in which you don’t pay fees because you’re not on the college “books” so not entitled to attend lectures or tutorials. So you have to teach yourself Waiting for Godot. In French.

But hey y’all, was it not Garth Brooks who twanged “some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers”? I finally passed and, with the help of a good tutor and a wise country boy, switched into a course that did sing to me.

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