If you didn’t get your first CAO choice, there is always Plan B

Not getting her first CAO choice worked out well for Caoimhe!

Written by Caoimhe Guinnane


It is definitely time for change at this time of year. The nights are getting shorter and there is a beginning of cold chill in the air as our winter months commence. Change is on the horizon for sure. August seems to be an official time of change for people in Ireland, especially young people as they receive their results for their Leaving Certificate. The CAO offers roll in and parents come to the realisation that their child is moving on and starting to build a life for themselves, as they accept their places in University or in an Institute of Technology.

This is not the case for everyone as some students may not have achieved points needed for their chosen course and this most certainly was the case for me when I received my CAO offer over three years ago. I was offered two other institutes but I had my heart set on attending the Limerick Institute of Technology. I was determined that I would study Applied Social Care. It was the only course I wanted to know about and it was recognised as one of the best courses for social care in the country.

The Leaving Certificate was not the end for me. I had organised a place for a PLC course in social studies in Central College Limerick. I chose the social studies as I researched that after I had this course done, I could be employed as a Health Care Assistant. Also, it really was what I wanted to be doing with myself. Undertaking the PLC was the best decision I made. I have made lifelong friends through my PLC course. Most of my PLC class went on to LIT with me so I guess I was lucky in that sense.

A PLC stands for post leaving certificate course, if the thoughts of repeating the leaving certificate year is the last thing you want to do then you can apply for a PLC course which offers various courses on different topics. It involves an interview and if successful, you only have to pay a small amount of fees. On average you study eight modules and there are various assignments within these modules and final summer exams. You can apply through the CAO for a college place. PLC grading goes by three avenues and as follows,  Distinction which hold 50 points, Merit which holds 35 points and a Pass which is 20 points.

Although I did not get the points I wanted and it may have taken me an extra year to get where I wanted to go but, it was a great option I had to fall back on.

It gave me the chance to transition from school life where everything is drilled into you, to having to organise and stand up on my own feet. It gave me time to develop my confidence, as I would have been quite shy and nervous about entering into college. Within the course I was doing, we were required to be hands-on and constantly working simultaneously with our tutors.

I got the opportunity to complete work experience, which has stood to me in receiving work after I had the course completed. All depending on the course you pick, the openings that Post-Leaving Certificate courses can bring are so useful for someone starting out in the big bad world.

PLCs are a great stepping-stone. It is a foundation of building blocks that have allowed me to be set up for level eight requirements, being surrounded in a new big college environment doesn’t seem as daunting as it had intentionally felt.  The PLC course has definitely provided me with the skills to excel in third level education.

So for anyone, whom feels like they have failed their parents or themselves, believe me, you have not. Plan B is only around the corner. There are multiple possibilities in which you can achieve your goal. All we have to do is look at some of the greats and they didn’t even complete college but still made a mark on the world!

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