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Monday 2 October 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
Leaving Cert results don't define your future
I only learned to appreciate education after quitting school.

First published – 5pm

I DROPPED OUT of school at the age of 18. It was December 2012, the year I was to sit the Leaving Cert.

I realised half way through sixth year that I had no chance of passing my exams, so I decided that enough was enough.

Coming from a socially disadvantaged background, failure all too often seemed inevitable.

But since leaving school, I have travelled and worked all over the world, made good money, met incredible people, had amazing adventures – and never looked back.

When I eventually returned to education, I did so because I had found something I loved and was good at. For the first time, I was learning because I wanted to.

Enrolling in that PLC course helped me realise that my true strengths had been buried for a long time.

I went on to attend university – something I never thought I’d be capable of doing – and am now a qualified professional and community worker.

And I’ll always remember how a lecturer, in one of my first weeks in college, told us we’d need to forget virtually everything we’d learned in school if we were to do well in third-level education.


Students across the country will be hurrying to get ready for college after the Leaving Cert results are announced next week.

And we will all see the yearly batch of articles rightly congratulating those who achieved 600 points.

But it is also around this time of year that students disappointed with their results will start to panic.

Many will settle for an unattractive CAO option, while others decide to repeat the exam.

Class differences

What has to be remembered is that results all too often reflect social class differences rather than capability.

Young people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be distracted from study by issues including abuse, neglect, hunger, addiction and mental health issues.

And so those with a relatively stable life outside of school, a solid support network and access to expensive grinds will inevitably do better than those without.

If you’re disappointed with your results, remember that it’s only your first experience of education, and that you’ll have plenty of future opportunities to learn and grow.

Exams don’t define your life or future. After all, I never sat my Leaving Cert – and I survived.

This article was written by a student at University College Cork who wishes to remain anonymous. 

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