A new journey begins...

For many young Irish this weekend will be their last as true dependants on their parents. With the Leaving Cert results coming out on Wednesday thousands will begin preparations for leaving home for the first time to start fending for themselves. And while their financial dependence on mammy and daddy will probably increase, they will be tasked with daily chores and responsibilities that many never pondered how they got done up until now.

It is such an exciting time in a young person’s life. The excitement of opening the results and realising your hard work has paid off. For others there is fierce disappointment when they realise they didn’t achieve the necessary points for their preferred course. But don’t despair. There are always options and the exam helpline 1800 265 165 should be the first port of call for any student, parent, or teacher looking for advice.

A lot of students and their parents are looking to Europe for study options where courses are often easier to gain entry to, accommodation costs are a lot lower than in Irish cities, and with cheap flights to most of the major European destinations access is almost as easy, and more cost effective then meandering through country roads on a Bus Éireann bone shaker. Admittedly, our roads have greatly improved and the City Links and other private buses are very comfortable these days but while the train services are more frequent, the cost is now exorbitant and is a huge financial burden on families.

Money aside, is the craic the same as it always was?

When we were college faring students Friday evenings were hectic, that is if you didn’t skip a lecture or two and arrive home to start the weekend early on a Thursday night or to fit in an extra shift at work on a Friday to earn a few extra quid.

The return journey to college on a Sunday was always a lively affair. We’d all huddle in the cold at the train station, wrestle our way into a few seats and hope the Covies hadn’t claimed the whole train. We were glad of those same seats by the time we reached Claremorris and the train was now packed. Laughter would be heard the length and breadth of the train as the details of Saturday night’s antics were replayed. Plans for the coming week were formalised, finishing touches put to assignments due on a Monday morning.

There was no Facebook or Twitter, no laptops (or very few ), just good old laughter and talking and sometimes a bit of revelry thrown in.

In a decade the whole college culture has changed. Students seem to be much more mature, or so they’d have you think. Their insecurities are definitely well buried and these young adults seem invincible. However, they are much more financially dependant on their parents which is a difficult situation to be in as you enter adulthood. The almost non-existence of part-time jobs has compounded this problem. With this financial dependence comes a responsibility that students must be certain of their course choice. Education is no longer free in this country and with the increasing costs of third level there is less room for error in course choices. It’s those sorts of considerations that are forcing teenagers to grow up so much faster. They have to take much more responsibility for their choices given the impact those choices have on the rest of their families.

But when the decision is finally made, hopefully they will enjoy the college experience as the true character defining exercise that it was meant to be. So when the results, the decisions, and the finances are all sorted out, the time for personal development at a pace you’ve never experienced before begins.

Good luck to everyone on Wednesday from the staff of the Mayo Advertiser.


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