Testing times ahead for parents as well as students

Wednesday saw the weeks and months of mounting pressure lifted for the 1,619 young men and women in Mayo who received their Leaving Cert results. The hard work, the effort, and the bit of luck they were looking for will have hopefully paid off for them, when they opened the envelope as they walked out of their secondary school for the final time. What’s next in store for them will come to pass early on Monday when the first round CAO offers come through their letterbox or the nervous click of a mouse or tap on a smart phone if the check online, from the literal crack of dawn, when the offers go live at 6am.

It’s a nervous time for them and even more so for their parents who have done all they can to ensure that their child has the best chance of a good future and a successful career, in one of the most testing times this country has ever had to live through in our short recent history as an independent state. They are the ones in the main who are going to have to bear a large portion of the costs of sending their offspring to college for the next three to six years, depending on what they study. The costs associated with this hit the headlines earlier in the week when the Irish League of Credit Unions released a survey which found that it costs eight in 10 parents €421 per month to support their child in third level. That is no small amount of money in any man’s language and when you multiply it out over the course of a three or four year degree cycle, it soon jumps up to many, many thousands of euro. When you throw in the cost of registration fees, which have risen and risen to almost the cost of the old fees that were abolished by Niamh Bhreathnach back in the mid-90s, it is struggle for many hard pressed families to put their children through third level. But it’s a hardship that many parents willingly take on, because we always want the best for our own and will do all we can to ensure that they get it. Like many others, I myself have to thank my parents for getting me through third level education, through their moral and financial support.

While the excitement of this course in Dublin or that one in Galway will surely be rushing around the heads of this years graduating class of Leaving Cert students this weekend, for many of their parents the thoughts that will be rushing around their heads will involve weighing up the costs of sending their child to Dublin or Galway and which will be easiest to do. But they’ll do what they can to make sure their child gets the best opportunity available.

As for those who think that the world has ended because they didn’t do as well as they hoped or expected, all is far from lost, there are many ways available to get where you want to in third level education. It’s important to bear in mind that quite a lot of people end up on courses they find out they have no real interest in a few months down the line, and end up packing it in or looking to change course. It’s hard enough knowing what you want to do with your life in your late 20s, or even early 30s, never mind at 18, so they have plenty time to decide yet.

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