Career Advice Ireland - Leaving Cert: ‘Young people need space to make their own decisions’

Date Uploaded: 30/05/2016

Career Advice Ireland - With the first Junior and Leaving Certificate exams a little over a week away, Institute of Guidance Counsellors president Betty McLaughlin offers tips and advice for students and parents.

Students do best when parents:

  • Understand the difficulties in becoming an adult in today’s world, talk and show an interest, and respect their point of view.
  • Help young people to study by providing the right study conditions, free from distractions and stress.
  • Encourage a young person to seek advice and information inside and outside school.
  • Encourage young people to think in terms of a group of similar careers, rather than one defined area.
  • With support, respect, understanding and the right atmosphere, young people can develop in an almost unbelievable way.

Young people need the space to make their own decisions. We are all more open to receive help and advice if we experience respect for our decisions and opinions.

Advice for parents:

Encourage and support and, most of all show, active love to your child at this time.

This includes encouraging them to put aside the part-time job until the exams are over.

While life cannot entirely stop for the Leaving Certificate or Junior Certificate, aim to keep the atmosphere at home as low key and upbeat as is possible.

It’s a challenging time for families.Be proud of your child for getting this far; and proud of your good parenting in steering them towards completing their secondary education.

There will be more proud — and challenging — days to come as those finishing school embark on a new phase in life, whether it be college, apprenticeship or employment.

Tips for students:

  • Believe in yourself, and that you can achieve your potential.
  • Know that you have the necessary willpower to take the steps to get you through the exams. With a well-structured study plan, a healthy balanced diet, regular exercise, companionship, relaxation, and fresh air you are giving yourself the best chance possible.
  • Aim for a minimum of eight hours sleep, and try relaxing for at least a half-hour before going to bed.
  • Take at least 30 minutes exercise each day, a brisk walk, a swim or a short cycle. You will feel reinvigorated after it and it will help to relieve the clutter in the brain.

Students need energy to perform at their best, eating healthy food is essential for concentration and sustained performance in the examination centre. (Mum and Dad, keep the fridge well stocked, students like to graze!) Students also need some down time, relaxing with friends or family.

Parents should check in with their children at this stressful time and a little TLC goes a long way to relieve stress.

If you are concerned about how your young person is coping, contact your GP or school/guidance counsellor.

Students, mind yourselves by:

  • Finding the balance between work and recreation.
  • Maintaining relationships — this is your support system!

Eating properly;

  • Taking exercise;
  • Getting enough sleep;
  • Practicing mindfulness;
  • Avoiding any caffeine and alcohol;
  • Avoiding any hype around exam time on social media;
  • Seeking help: talk to your guidance counsellor.


Next week will mark the beginning of exams for 56,619 Leaving Certificate students, according to unfinalised projections from the State Examinations Commission.

More than 2,818 are entered to sit the Leaving Certificate Applied and 60,662 for Junior Certificate exams.

These are some of the key dates for those students in the weeks and months ahead.

End of May: All CAO applicants should have a statement of their application records by now from the CAO.

Anybody who has applied, but has not received this, should contact CAO.

Tuesday, June 7 & Monday to Friday, June 13-17: Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) practical coursework exam.

Wednesday June 8: Junior and Leaving Certificate exams begin.

Thursday, June 16: Final LCA exams.

Thursday, June 23: Final Junior Certificate exams.

Friday, June 24: Final Leaving Certificate exams.

Friday, July 1: CAO Change of Mind process closes at 5.15pm.

Early July: CAO Round A offers for some non-standard categories of applicants

Friday, July 8: Deadline for first-time college grant applicants to apply to SUSI in order to have their applications prioritised.

Friday, July 22: Closing date for late CAO applications for students already attending certain third-level colleges.

Early August: Further places offered to certain non-standard CAO applicant categories in Round 0.

Wednesday, August 17: Leaving Certificate results expected to be issued at schools.

Monday, August 22: CAO offers issued for applicants with Leaving Certificate results and other college hopefuls.

Wednesday, September 7: Closing date for applications to State Examinations Commission for appeals of Leaving Certificate/LCA results.

Mid-September: Junior Certificate results issuing to schools.


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