Tag Archives: CAO

See-Ay-Oh.

That title may make no sense whatsoever to you, but I was just trying to mix things up a bit. And yes, I am aware that that was an extremely innovative and mind-blowing way of doing it. Titles are not my forte.

If you’re still lost, I’m talking about the CAO. Central Applications Office, for those of you lucky enough not to have a clue what those three little letters stand for; three little letters that strike fear into the hearts of sixth years nationwide. I’ve been thinking about what direction I want to go down later in life for a while now. I suppose that’s an obvious statement. In reality, I think that, as children, we’re always thinking about it, even if we don’t realise it. When I was four years old I decided I wanted to be a vet. Nothing else would suffice.

For the next nine years or so I watched every ‘Animal Hospital’, ‘Vets on Call’ and ‘Emergency Vets’ I could find. I dreamed of opening my own surgery and treating every animal that walked, hopped, flew, slid or swam through the door. Truth be told, I did manage to have my own veterinary hospital, where I successfully managed to treat all the stuffed toys I owned. There was a notebook too, where everything was recorded. I took things very seriously, although I did offer free check-ups.. Not sure was that such a good idea..

Fourteen years on, and I wish I was still as sure about my career as I was back then. Between then and now I’ve contemplated teaching, science, pharmacy, medicine, law, Irish, media and probably a lot more I can’t think of right now. The vet phase lasted until I started secondary school, and slowly I started thinking about science of some description. Then at some point, law became a possibility followed by journalism within the last year or two. To sum things up, I haven’t a clue what to do.

Since starting into our final year of secondary education, we’ve been bombarded with prospectuses, guidance sessions, predict-your-points worksheets, entry requirements, UCAS, HPAT, closing dates, open days and university fairs. That big, brown, scary CAO envelope was thrust into my hands all too soon, and things started to seem a bit too real and ‘official’.

My own dilemma is the fact that I am torn between two completely opposite areas. Should I go down the science route? Medicine, pharmacy, veterinary, biomed, biochem? After all, I’m doing both Chemistry and Biology, as well as honours maths, so surely this is the route I should be taking? We’re told it’s the future of our world, the smart economy, it’s where the jobs and the high salaries will be.

Then at the completely opposite end of the spectrum, we have law, journalism and media. Last Saturday, I went to talk upon talk at the UCC open day. Everything was great and interesting and what have you, but when I was listening to that law talk, it was like something clicked. When the lecturer described a law student, it was like she was describing me. When she talked about career opportunities, it was what I wanted to hear. I left UCC completely set on either Law and Irish or Law International. I had found ‘the one’.

Not for long though. The little insecurities slowly started creeping back. Will I like it? Employment opportunities? Is science ‘safer’? Is science more ‘sensible’? Am I really a more scientific person? So we’re back to square one.

After going through all of this, I have two main issues with the CAO system:

1. How are 17 and 18 year olds expected to know what they want to do? I know this has been said a thousand times before, but it’s so, so true that I see no harm in it being said again. The guidance we receive in school is minimal. Proper career guidance should begin well before we need to begin worrying about CAO forms, ideally in third year. I know that 5th year subject choice has affected a lot of people, so Leaving Cert is too late to begin talking about college courses.

2. My main gripe lies with the points system. This, too, is nothing new, but it probably affects me more than number 1. I’ll say it straight. A1 students only do medicine because they can. They do it for the prestige, to show forever that they got 600 points in the Leaving Cert. How in God’s name could they ever contemplate doing something like Arts? Sure, no-one would even know they were intelligent then! Ha! And so, we end up with lots of unhappy students: those doing medicine who wish they were somewhere else, and those who wish they had gotten medicine, whose place was robbed by unhappy student type 1.

Of course there’ll be exceptions. There are many students who get 550+ and do the low-points courses, because they realise it’s all based on supply and demand. But for the vast majority of them, they’ll always feel the need to answer ‘BIS, but I was thinking of doing Pharmacy too..’, when asked what course they’re doing.

Tomorrow I have my careers interview with the guidance counsellor. Let’s hope she can work some magic.

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Filed under Leaving Cert

Hello again..

I am such a bad blogger, I do know that. There is no regularity whatsoever to Wintertime Clothes anymore, so much so that I don’t think I should bother trying to make anyone read it. If they do, then I’ll be delighted but it’s like it’s always on the back of my mind if I haven’t written a post in a while. It used to be sort of a daily blog, and I was good at keeping that up for a while but I can’t seem to do that these days. I love writing, I love it a hell of a lot, but if blogging’s going to become a chore then I don’t think I should bother trying to pretend that I do a post everyday. Maybe if I say right now that I’ll do one post a week, or two posts a week then I’ll manage to stick to that. I read somewhere once that blogs should be regular. That doesn’t mean posting everyday, but just post at the same time every day/week/month so that your readers know when to expect a post.

I also know that blog posts should be short. I’m not good at keeping things short though. Once I start writing I don’t want to stop and then I think of a topic that would make a good blog post but I don’t know whether to throw it into the middle or do a separate post straight afterwards about that topic. I usually go with the former meaning that this blog has no structure whatsoever apart from the fact that the post title will most definitely not be applicable by the last sentence. If you get my drift.

I think I first started blogging just to keep me writing regularly. An English teacher told me that you can’t just not practice writing and expect to get an A in your essay. She said just write, about anything and everything once you’re forming words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs in some coherent manner. Hopefully this is semi-coherent anyway.

If you like reading all this stuff that has no logical sequence whatsoever then I’m a very lucky blogger. Recently, I’ve kind of started thinking about trying to build up a bit of a portfolio or something. Some day in the near-ish future I’ll need to be sending CVs to newspapers looking for a bit of freelance work and I’ll need something to show them. I write here about once a week but to be quite honest this isn’t something I’d want to be sending to a newspaper editor. It’s fine for a blog, but that’s what it is. There are two articles I could include in my ‘portfolio’ so far, namely a piece that was published in the ‘Go’ travel supplement in the Times, and an article I wrote about Plugd Records which won an award in an Irish Times competition. This blog isn’t exactly on par with that stuff like..

Speaking of journalism and all that jazz, I’m beginning to think I should just do what I said I never would and do journalism in DCU or UL or somewhere. Forget that whole get-a-solid-degree-and-then-do-a-masters shite. Media studies in NUIM looks very tempting too because you can combine it with a arts degree so you take media and two arts subjects in first year, drop one of the arts and continue to degree level with media and one arts subject. There’s Irish and Journalism in DCU too but I don’t think that’s exactly what I’m after. Maybe I’ll completely change my mind by CAO time but at least I’m doing some bit of thinking about it all.

There’s two other things I was going to mention but I just found out that Reeling in the Years is on Youtube and I now feel like looking back on simpler times. Ahhh..

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Filed under rambling

Guidance…

I don’t know why they call it guidance at all really. You sit there, listening to that ‘guidance counsellor’ drone on and on about how to apply and where you can do level 6 courses and blah blah. I know all this shit already, I need you to help me figure out to do with my life, not tell me that it’s good to get into the habit of filling out forms in black biro.
The prospectii that I already have at home are thrown at me, and I have to ‘research’ a course, research here meaning reading the brief course description that I’ve read ten times myself already. Everyone proceeds to scribble down banal details such as number of places, course code and where to apply. You people think I don’t know this already?!?! You actually think that just by reading the prospectus in the ‘Guidance Suite’ it will miraculously all become clear as opposed to reading it in the comfort of my own bedroom?
So every Monday, I leave the ‘Guidance Suite’ more confused than ever. I’m being told to do Arts or go to a post-leaving cert college. Not being snobby here, but I’m capable of alot more than a certificate, you people should know this. Or has the motto suddenly become ‘Aim low and you might eventually get there via the longest possible route just in time to have the degree you want to stick on the inside of your coffin’. I’m all for looking at different options, and trust me, I have. I’ve possibly looked at every possible area and course available to me. And to be honest, that’s the problem. I’ve too much choice. If I work hard, I can get however many points I want, so that’s not a huge issue. But where to start?
When I was young, very young, I wanted to be a vet. That dream lasted for a good while and I thought I’d never, ever want to do anything else. I even remember telling my parents that you could only do vet med in Dublin, and what would I do, not realising I’d be mad to move away when the time came.
I think Science came next, although maybe there was a very short period of time where I was interested in teaching. But yeah, from about 1st to 3rd year I was set on Science. I was looking at Biomed, Medicinal Chem, general Science, Biochem and so on. Then I contemplated Pharmacy and thought about Medicine, and to this day I still do. Law crept in round about third year, and is still a strong possibility.
Fourth year opened my eyes to the completely new (to me) area of media. Design, journalism and TV/radio suddenly fascinated me. This all happened for numerous reasons and I still have this idea of what I want to do. It’s an extremely idealistic view of what I’d like to end up doing, but everything starts with a dream. I think I love writing, and design too. I like organising and running events. I like the arts and culture. I like the Internet, newspapers, blogs, film and graphic design. I like Irish.
So right now, I have two vastly different options in front of me. I have the scientific one, which absolutely fascinates me. As gay as it sounds, I have a hunger for knowledge, and I like knowing the answers and understanding things. Science is modern and the key to our future as Ireland begins to focus on R&D. The option to study the human body and drugs and having such powerful knowledge seems exciting, and I know I would love studying medicine or pharmacy. It’s the job that’s turning me off. I don’t know how I’d like to be stuck in a lab on my own all day surrounded by test tubes and droppers. I’m not sure if I’d be able to cope in a hospital as contagious diseases scare the living daylights out of me. Being able to save someone’s life would be utterly amazing, but I just don’t know how I’d cope in a hospital, married to my job.
Then there’s option two. If I chose that route, there’s lots more choices to make after that. I was thinking of Law and Irish and if I had to fill out my CAO today that’s probably be number one. Law’s a very broad degree and I think that’s what I need, while Irish would allow me study something I love and use it to possibly get into media or something completely different. Journalism and New Media in UL is something I’ve been looking at too, although it’s a very new course. There’s a few in NUIG that interest me too. That’s the thing about UCC, it’s very ‘traditional’ course-wise. While other colleges are looking to the future and diversifying into modern areas, UCC seem to be holding back a little, and it annoys me, because I really don’t know if moving away is financially feasible.
So here you are, with me in the midst of making one of the biggest decisions in my life. This time next year, that form will have been signed, sealed and delivered. I’m merely a teenager, who still has to get dropped here and there by my parents, who can’t even legally buy alcohol, and yet I’m expected to know what I want to do with my life.
Mind-boggling, in more ways than one.

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Filed under ranting