The year of ‘good intentions’ we so often call this vital fifth year for students. But vital it is, and with encouragement, proper planning, and steady monitoring, it can be a year where all those good intentions can happen.
Many students are still reviewing their choice of Leaving Certificate subjects, particularly those students who enjoyed a good transition year and are now more aware of their career plans and needs.
And while Junior Certificate students may be awaiting their Junior Certificate results, due out on September 14, to finalise their choices, it is important that they do not make their absolute decision based solely on results.
Getting an A in German, but having chosen French to study for Leaving Certificate, but then getting a B in your Junior Certificate French, does not mean that you switch languages. Stop and think why you originally chose French. Likewise with any student who may still be choosing any of their Leaving Certificate subjects.
The main purpose of reviewing your subjects now is to, hopefully, ensure that you have either kept your career options open or that you have chosen required subjects for courses you are considering.
Start now. Try not to wait until after Halloween or even worse, after Christmas. And no excuses!
If possible, and affordable, supervised study may be the best way for a fifth year student to make a good start to this year. Granted, there are students who have always studied well at home, but for the majority of students, the imposed discipline of supervised study can help to get the year in focus — right from the beginning. Putting this off is where many students fall into the trap of those ‘good intentions'.
As always, the usual rules apply. Where possible, complete written homework the night it is given, with a quick review of other work covered that day. Weekends can then be used for more detailed review of work completed each week, with structured note taking and a deeper understanding of subjects achieved.
Watch out for students who may, indeed, complete a wonderful first term of homework and study, together with a good balance with their free time with family and friends, who may suddenly tire in their post-Christmas term.
The luxury and the relaxation of a happy Christmas can make a return to set school and study hours difficult to settle back into. This can also happen to students returning to college after their first Christmas home, especially if they are studying away from home. They too can find it harder to leave after Christmas, than they may have found when first leaving home back in September. Be alert to this.
Finding subjects difficult
Honours Project Maths is still causing difficulty for many students. And honours physics, honours chemistry, applied maths, and accounting are some of the subjects that can carry a heavier workload than expected. But, all this is OK.
It is so important to help a young student realise that it is OK to, initially, find such subjects more difficult than they expected. If necessary, and if possible, seek additional help, but do try to encourage such students to hold on.
These are subjects that will later open vital and exciting courses and careers. And English will always need to be included in all careers.
All Leaving Certificate subjects demand greater work and greater understanding. And greater understanding is the key for all students.
This is where the extra hours of homework and revision come in — and pay off. Revision books can sometimes help students in these early weeks and months to get a greater perspective on their subjects. And one-to-one support, while a privilege, can greatly help.
While all subjects are important for a student, once subjects have been chosen, please take care that a student is coping with mathematics and English, no matter the level. These are central to all students, to their confidence and their future course options and careers. Above all, step in early with help with these subjects.
Happiness and goals
A well-organised fifth year can lead to immense happiness and confidence for a student. And this organisation also includes time off, time with friends, and a balance of sport and exercise and sleep.
Setting goals now and monitoring such goals throughout the year, is a precious gift for all students and so appreciated next year, when their Leaving Certificate year for 2018 will begin.
Marie Barrett is founder and a director of MBCS, Marie Barrett Career Services, Loughrea. She is author of The Education Guide and contributes to national and local radio education programmes. MBCS works individually with second-level students and parents in student career, study and education planning. Contact 091 841424/086 2359751 or [email protected].