My leaving cert results did not define my path in life

It took time, but Emie found her true path and thrived not letting her Leaving Cert results define her.

Written by Emie Collins


Leaving Cert season is here and this time can be extremely stressful for all types of students, whether you are sitting your Leaving Cert, studying in college, or if you have deferred

Unfortunately, we do hear about how the Leaving Cert will determine how successful you will be for the rest of your life. I want to start this article out by saying: your Leaving Cert results do not define how successful you will be in life. There is always another path, even when it may not feel that way. 

My leaving cert journey

Speaking from my own experience, I completed my Leaving Certificate in 2018. I worked hard, but I didn’t achieve the results I needed due to unforeseen circumstances. At the time I wanted to be a psychologist, so I ended up doing a PLC. That didn’t work out as I wasn’t ready to attend it after being absent from school for so long. 

I decided to do a level 5 and 6 minor award course so I could enter as a QQI student, but that wasn’t straightforward and I ended up having to add modules to make up a major award (8 modules) but I only had 2 modules at the time. 

I went on and did 6 more modules to make it a major award. That brings me to 2020, two years after doing the Leaving Cert, and this time was so frustrating because I kept comparing my life to my friends and felt like “I should have done…” and I felt like a failure. I was also completely lost because no one I knew had gone through something similar. 

I wanted to do another minor award during the summer to give me even more experience.

Learning about myself

During those three years of back to back courses, I learnt so much about myself, how I study, prepare and write assignments, projects, presentations and exams. I learnt how to reference and cite different sources (that was a nightmare for me at first). I also learnt how I cope with the pressure of deadlines, how I ask questions, how I make phone calls, and how to properly write an email. Gaining experience in these areas made me feel more confident in myself, it was a long process, but a necessary one.

Finally, in 2021, the year that I was certain that I was going to start my degree, I filled out my CAO and I thought I was set, but the more I looked into the psychology courses I wanted, the less passion I felt. This was terrifying, as people in my life already associated me with psychology and I felt like I wasted 3 years of my life on the wrong path.

Change of career path

My career plan completely changed in July. I decided to separate myself from psychology and dive into being creative, something that has always helped me relax. That is when I realised I wanted to be in the creative industry, I wasn’t sure what to do, but my passion came flooding back. This was another extremely difficult time in my life because I knew that I would have to do another course in order to enter a level 8 course if I wanted to, but I did it. I decided that I am taking another year to do something creative. 

I wanted to do a level 6 because I had already completed a level 5 and wanted to move up in education. I ended up finding a level 6 that I fell in love with, applied, got an interview and was accepted into the course during my interview. I was in disbelief, but it finally felt like I was on the right path. I completed the level 6 in May and now, at 21, I was recently accepted into year 2 of a degree that I can’t believe I got into. Even though it is 4 years since my Leaving Cert, I have grown so much in every way possible and I know even through the tears and frustration that this was meant to be.

The reason I wanted to tell you a condensed version of my story is because I had no one who went through something similar and it was a dark place for me. Just know that what you want to do in life, whatever that may be, do it for you, no matter how long it takes because you will thrive and be successful.

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