Scenic Route

The Leaving Cert results have just come out and it brings me back to the time I got my own results. I was not happy, I did not get enough points to do the course I wanted and I was disappointed. Thinking back now 4 years later I realise I was not being realistic about what I could achieve and I was over ambitious about the points I needed and the course I wanted to do.

I found it hard to understand why my mum and career guidance teacher kept saying there are many routes you can take to get where you want. I understand that now but back then I was a lot more black and white. I could not even understand why my mum and family were so happy when I got my results. My mum was so proud that I had finished school and sat the leaving cert, the results were not as important to her. I now understand all that and Yeah, I am now very proud of myself given all the obstacles that were put in my way. I should have been happy to have completed the Leaving Cert and happy with the good results I did get. If I had got the points to go to college I don’t think I would have survived it at that stage in my life. In a future Blog, I will talk about helping and supporting a student on the Autistic Spectrum with exams.

I am now taking the Scenic Route to college and it is something I would recommended to anyone especially if you don’t know what you want to do, don’t feel ready for college, didn’t get the points you want or you want to gain more life experience.

For those of you who are not Irish I will give a quick explanation of how the Irish exam system works. In your final of year of school, you do exams in all the subjects that you have chosen for the leaving cert, about 7 or 8 subjects. This is what you study in your fifth and sixth year in school. You then go on to take an exam (in each subject) called the Leaving Cert, you get points for each grade, all these points are added up to decide what college course you get or don’t. It all comes down to how you perform in an exam on a particular day after 14 years in school, I think It’s ridiculous and unfair. My Educational Psychology reports from a young age state that exam results would not reflect my true ability and there are so many more people like me out there and not just on the Autistic Spectrum. So how can the Leaving Cert be possibly fair for us?

To explain why the Scenic Route is right for me I will tell you some of what I have achieved over the last 4 years. Firstly, I started a business course in Dún Laoghaire the September I finished school. Tragedy then struck my family in the November with the death of my brother Eoin. I was unable to continue with the course and took a year out – I never returned.

Being on the Autistic Spectrum work was something very difficult to find – a Blog for another time. But I knew I could not just sit about at home all day. I Joined a gym so that I could exercise daily as I knew it was important for my mental health. I did Hell and Back and cycled around Ireland raising thousands of Euros for Pieta house and raising awareness around the importance of looking after your mental health.

I successfully qualified as a Personal Trainer and a Nutritional Advisor and have done several other short courses including Sports Psychology. I completed a course in Occupational First Aid and also a course in Mental Health First Aid where I learnt how to help someone with a mental health issue or suicidal thoughts. I even did a course in Manual Handling! These are essential life skills, I have developed socially, I have learnt who my friends are and who are not my friends. I have grown as a person in a way I believe would not have had I gone straight into your typical 3 or 4-year course.

I am now waiting to start an access course in UCD where I will hopefully learn more life skills so that when the time is right for me to do a full-time course in college I am ready. I apologise if this Blog is too much about me and what I have done so far but I just wanted to show you and others that there is always a way around things, it is not just about the Leaving Cert and going straight to college although sometimes you would think that the way schools and other people go on about it. If someone in your life does not get what they want today in their results it’s not the end of the world and like me maybe in 4 years they will think it was better to take the Scenic Route.


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