Words of wisdom: remembering that exams aren't everything

Today's Twitter feeds are packed to the brim with good luck wishes to all the young folk heading along to their respective schools to pick up what at the time, feels like the single most important thing in your life, the key to your future: the Leaving Cert results.

9 years ago today, I was so fearful of it all going wrong, and it's safe to say I experienced the full spectrum of emotion within the space of about 2 minutes.

Granted, all of today's hopeful students are indeed on the cusp of life, but are the points printed on that tiny piece of paper really so significant that if it doesn't go to plan, doors will instantly close? I don't think so. There's always ways and means around getting to where you want to be but there's one thing you'll need far more than academic smarts: drive, passion and a peerless work ethic. And patience. Patience is key if, things don't go to plan the first time around.

While I was one of the lucky ones who got into the course I wanted - Communications in DCU - I had friends who fell a few marks short of their number 1 choice. 8 years on, however, and it's irrelevant; they got there in the end, in their own time. There are those too who didn't get their original top choice, went on to do something else entirely, and still wound up achieving their goals. Unfortunately, I don't have the statistics to hand, but I reckon the number of people whose current career path relates directly back to all those modules and tutorials from college is rather paltry.

Another thing worth remembering is that at the age of 17/18, it's very hard to really know what you want to do. I certainly didn't have a clue; I just wanted to enjoy a few years at college, learning about something that would broaden my horizons, without putting me to sleep or giving me countless, sleepless nights. A college degree is sort of a given, a foundation on which to build yourself and a chance to explore your strengths, but it's really not until you dip your toe in the professional pond and get some work experience, paid or unpaid, that you really get to know what it is that tickles your fancy. And this doesn't happen for a few years.


If you can visualise yourself in a career and are prepared to stop at nothing 'til you get there, then your leaving cert results won't stop you. In fact, I know of many people, as we all do, who were the furthest thing from a model student, disinterested entirely in the world of academia, who've gone on to achieve wonderful things with thanks to their sheer determination and, more often than not, their gift of the gab.

Once you get yourself some experience and prove that you're a cut above the rest, neither your college course?or your leaving cert results will matter. Come to think of it, I can't remember the last time anyone asked what I did in college, even in an interview situation (though I work in media which is always going to be less rigid than, say, the financial sector), never mind how I fared those 8 years ago.

So fear not, dear students. In 9 years time, or even less, you'll struggle to remember the points you got and the subjects you studied, let alone how it set your current career path in motion. Though the hazy memory may have something to do with the inevitable celebrations that'll bring the country's nightclubs to a standstill later on.

How did you celebrate your results? And looking back now, how significant do you feel they were?

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