The Leaving Cert year is generally accepted to be one of the most stressful periods of a young person’s life. This year was no exception but had the added stress of a Global Pandemic! As you all may know, we have a dynamite group of girls we are lucky to call our Shona Project Ambassadors. Like many of you, 3 of our girls are receiving their Leaving Cert results next week! With all the chaos that 2020 has brought and the calculated grade system, we decided to ask our lovely ladies how they are feeling and what their plans are next!
I have always been a really diligent student, aiming for top marks. I studied consistently throughout fifth year, and even more so in sixth year. As the year progressed, even my friends who would never normally pick up a book were suddenly turning down party invitations and nights out, while the dreaded exams loomed ever closer. And that’s not to mention the CAO process, college open days, SUSI grants, and the whole host of other stressors. We have to figure out how to strike that magical balance between work and play, studying, and socialising.
I was in the throes of this stress last March when an unexpected obstacle came my way. Surprise! There’s a global pandemic! Suddenly the comfort of my routine was thrown to the wind. I was at once relieved and frustrated when my oral exams were cancelled, and I was tasked with figuring out how I could make working from home, work for me. I’m lucky enough to be able to say that my own school was amazing in terms of support, with weekly newsletters and Google Classrooms for all of my subjects. I even had a few online classes via Zoom, and it was so comforting to finally hear my teacher’s and classmates’ voices again.
Of course, as we are all aware by now, this year’s Leaving Cert exams were finally cancelled, with an option to opt into Calculated Grades instead. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous. Not about my own points: my first choice on my CAO required relatively low points last year. But what about my sister, who wants to do architecture? Or my friend, who wants to do pharmacy? It’s impossible to know what way the points will go this year, and I think the uncertainty is the hardest part.
I feel like I have grown personally and emotionally in the last year- in the last few weeks even- than in the previous 18 years of my life combined. The pandemic has brought us together and taught us to look out for the vulnerable people around us. The class of 2020 will come out the other end of this pandemic much more resilient than we were before. We will transform our disappointment into determination, to create a brighter world than the one we’re living in.
If I could give advice to sixth years, I would say that the Leaving Cert is all about finding the balance between studying and having fun. Don’t neglect your schoolwork in favour of a good time. The best bet is always to work steadily throughout to avoid burnout, while also making time for things that relieve stress. It’s always so more important to preserve your mental health than it is to get top marks.
Hi, My name is Alísha. I am 18 years old, a Shona ambassador, and have just finished sixth year. The worst thing about predicted grades is that it feels like all of our control has been taken away, we have no say in our results and there is nothing to do but wait. This is especially hard after working so hard over the course of sixth year- it feels very anticlimactic for the year to end this way.
Having said this, I was happy when the cancelled the leaving cert; I don’t believe that we could have sat the exams under the conditions faced this summer. It’s a bittersweet feeling really, excitement for college mixed with nerves for results.
I’m hoping to go to UCC in September to study English and History, which I have been planning to do since TY, and I am so excited for the future. I hope that the government gives us all the grades we deserve, that we have all worked so hard for.
The Leaving Cert is terrifying, seriously, it’s such a tough process filled with so many ups and downs. But 6th year as a whole was amazing! I’m hoping to study English and Art History in either Trinity or UCD this September, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. One of the hardest parts is finally deciding what you want to do and where you want to go. I found it insanely overwhelming and it took me down to the last few months to decide but finally figuring it out felt like puzzle pieces falling into place.
It’s so scary waiting for results, but after preparing for almost 6 years, I’m hoping the payoff will be worth it. That’s the thing with the Leaving Cert I think. It’s so difficult but definitely rewarding. Living away from home for the first time is something I’ve been looking forward to for years, so to think it’s only a month or two away is both incredibly daunting and extremely exciting!! (And considering I know how to cook exactly 2 meals, I have a feeling it’ll take me a while to get the hang of finally being an ‘adult’…).
Honestly, I don’t know how I could have gotten through the past two years if it wasn’t for the girls in my year though, we grew to be such a family over the past while and I genuinely will miss the feeling of seeing everyone, and the safety bubble that was secondary school. This year was filled with such uncertainty and anxiety, so it’s such a relief for all of us to have it over and done with. It’s safe to say I won’t miss the LC itself though… but fingers crossed for results day (and get the holy candles lighting if you’re that way inclined) !! – Daisy