Is repeating really the right decision?
Have you fallen short of the results you were hoping for? You have options
Why would I think about repeating?
Hard-working students may have fallen a few points short for the more competitive options, such as medicine, veterinary or dentistry. Some students may have been unlucky enough to suffer an illness, bereavement or family problems during the all-important year. Others simply realise that they didn’t put the work in and that they should give it another chance.
Is repeating the right choice for me?
Mary Dorgan, guidance counsellor at the Institute of Education, advises students to ask themselves why they performed below expectations, what their study habits were like, and whether they are likely to improve the second time around. “If you are going to repeat the bad habits of last year, it might be a bad idea,” she says. “But a lot of students reach a certain level of maturity and realise they weren’t putting in the work; these can make excellent repeat students.”
The thought of repeating is repeating on me
Is the only CAO offer that vaguely interests you appearing elusive? Is the thought of repeating the Leaving unbearable? There are plenty of alternatives; you may still be going to college.
Frank Costello, head of admissions at Dublin Institute of Technology, points out that some college programmes will have vacant places after the first round of CAO offers. Students apply directly to the college.
A list of vacant places is available on the CAO website and will be updated regularly. A large number of these vacant places are available in the private college sector. However, applicants still need to meet the college’s minimum entry requirements.
But I don’t like any of these courses. Do I have to repeat?
No. You could still get into college, but you may have to take the scenic route. Independent career guidance consultant Joe Casey suggests that students might consider a post-Leaving Certificate course in the further-education sector.
“Further education is vocationally oriented and may actually suit some learners over the more theoretical and academic courses in higher education,” says Casey.
“Unfortunately, some of the more popular PLC courses get oversubscribed early in the year, but there will still be plenty of choice.”
Liberties College and Ballyfermot College of Further Education are among those with excellent reputations.
Students apply directly to the college; those who perform particularly well – usually earning a merit or distinction in their exams – can progress on from further education to higher education. And many do.
I want to go straight into higher education. I don’t think Fetac is for me
You can still avoid repeating. If you have missed out on that dream course, consider taking a different CAO offer. For instance, a student who missed out on a specialised business course might take that place on an arts course and study economics before going on to do a more specialised postgraduate degree. Aspiring doctors who miss out on that place in medicine might accept a place on a biomedical-science course and then enter medicine as a postgraduate.
Another option is to seek a transfer to a different course after the first year of college. Frank Costello says that, for instance, a student who decides to switch from a business to a hospitality-and-tourism course could receive an exemption based on particularly strong first-year grades. But it’s a risky strategy, and there’s no guarantee that the student will be granted their transfer request.