We firmly believe that PLC courses and apprenticeships are amazing opportunities that are not highlighted enough for us girls as pathways to the career we always wanted. Sometimes PLC courses can be seen as a “Back Up Option” in case you don’t get a third-level course. We want to clear up this myth because it’s simply not true. Case in point… Meet Jasmine.
Jasmine Carroll was a high achieving Leaving Cert graduate who received 625 points in her Leaving Cert. She could have done any course she wanted but decided to do a PLC course at the Drogheda Institute of Further Education. She felt that it was the right decision for her, and hasn’t looked back since. In fact, last year she was awarded the Art/Craft/Design Group B: Overall Student of the Year award 2022 from the college.
This interview was conducted between The Shona Team and a Shona Community Member called Jasmine.
First off, could you tell us a little about your secondary school experience?
My secondary school experience was really enjoyable for the most part, and I know I’m very lucky to feel that way. I always kept my head down and made the most out of the resources available to me. I also really loved the social aspect of school. I spent many lunch breaks catching up with friends about practically anything! That being said, I found my Leaving Certificate year a very stressful one. The Leaving Certificate in itself is very stressful but with the addition of learning online for practically all of 5th year, I felt like I was on the back foot. However, I did as much as I could to put myself in the best position for sitting my exams as well as opting for predicted grades and all my hard work really paid off, which I’m very grateful for.
Coming into your last few years of secondary school, did you know what you wanted to do after school? Were you given any assistance in making this decision?
Ever since I was young I knew I always wanted to be a teacher. I had focused on primary school teaching for many years and only in my final year in school I started thinking about secondary school teaching. Art was my favourite subject at school and after long talks with teachers, my parents and my guidance counsellor and scrolling through Careers Portal I came to the decision that I enjoyed art as a subject too much to never do it again. I then decided that secondary school art teaching was something I wanted to pursue.
Was the PLC route an option promoted to you? Or did you feel the pressure many teenagers feel, in that college was the only clear option after secondary?
I was informed in 6th year about PLCs (Post Leaving Certificate Course), and what they could offer from my guidance counsellor. She really pushed the idea to my class as a great backup route. My first thought was the same thought as many. I had never heard of a PLC and thought that I should really just go straight into college. However, I went to an online information day and all my worries completely faded away as they really offered everything I was looking for and more.
Could you tell us a little bit about your decision-making process in opting to go for a PLC?
Since my art teaching decision was quite a quick one, I still decided to put all my effort into my Leaving Certificate just in case I changed my mind and chose to follow another career path. In other words, I really wanted to keep all my options open! Once I had voiced my decision to follow art teaching, I then got talking to my art teacher about these options. I had no idea how to even apply to art college, which college to choose or how to start my art portfolio. I was really confused and unsure. She then informed me about the Drogheda Institute of Further Education (DIFE) and their Art Craft and Design Portfolio Preparation course. I did a lot of research then and was more than happy to apply with them as an affordable and worthwhile year of further education.
Has the PLC route worked out for you?
The PLC route has worked out really well for me. I made the most out of the year and received all Distinctions to achieve my QQI Level 5 Certificate which meant I found out I got my first choice in Round Zero, a whole month before Round One came out.
Could you tell us some of the positives you have learned about picking a PLC after secondary?
Doing a PLC was honestly one of the best decisions of my life. All my memories are so positive! I learnt so many practical skills that relate to my current practice in college as well as many life skills like writing a CV and interviewing skills. DIFE’s art room was really well equipped and I learnt so many new skills like weaving and combined materials. I also developed other skills that I had learnt already in secondary schools like print and painting. I made so many friends for life with similar interests that I still am in contact with today.
Do you think the PLC route is a forgotten option for young people? Why is that?
I really do think PLCs are forgotten about sometimes and I’m really not sure why. I personally had never really heard of PLCs before 6th year but I do think that it’s a slowly growing route of education, and I can see why. It’s a great stepping stone between secondary school and college. PLCs are structured like secondary schools with different classes and consistent timetables and they stick pretty much to the holiday dates of a secondary school. You also get all the college benefits in the way that you are responsible for your own work level and you get the opportunity to learn college lesson material.
What advice would you have for a girl sitting her Leaving Cert right now?
Any advice that I would have for anyone at all out there sitting their Leaving Certificate is to try not to stress about it!! I know it may sound easier said than done but one exam does not define who you are. Always keep your options open and research your choices. Make your best effort when it comes to sitting your Leaving Certificate but if the questions aren’t for you and the results don’t go your way, don’t panic! We really are lucky these days to have back routes into any courses out there. I really cannot recommend PLCs enough as you get a great taster into a course at an affordable price. You can learn many new practical skills and life skills and find out if that’s what you really want to pursue.
We’d like to say thank you so much to our lovely community member Jasmine for taking part in this interview.
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