What’s Meant To Be Will Always Find Its Way

With the Leaving Cert almost finished, I’ve met more than a handful of people who weren’t happy with how their exams went. As per usual, the Department of Education seemed set on being absolute gobshites (excuse my French) once again. A lot of people are down in the dumps, worrying that they haven’t gotten their points and will end up doing a course that they don’t particularly want to do. I’m writing this post to reassure, reassure, and reassure once again, that what’s meant to be will always find its way.

When my Leaving Cert finished, I didn’t feel that surge of joy that I thought I’d feel. Instead, I was pissed off. I knew that I hadn’t reached my goal of 440, and had this niggling feeling that I’d hit 425 (I was right). Anyways, I spent my whole summer hoping and praying that Midwifery in UL would drop a few points, and by the time I had eventually stopped wailing after getting my results, it was time to cry some more when I got my offer. Obviously enough, it wasn’t the offer that I wanted. I’d waited up all night to be offered my 8th choice, and I kid you not when I say that I collapsed on my parents’ bedroom floor in floods of tears. I thought that all my hard work had gone down the drain, but now it all makes sense. I was going to repeat, but when I got a phone call to say that I’d gotten a scholarship for writing, I saw it as a sign. If I could get a scholarship for writing, I thought that maybe I could make a career out of it too.

I’ve always had a flair for English. I loved writing, and spent my childhood filling books with stories and poems and songs, it’s always been something that I enjoyed. In fifth year I decided that I wanted to be a journalist, but was put off it by everybody telling me that there’s no jobs for journalists, you have to be a brilliant writer to be a journalist, and there’s no money in it. Instead of going with my heart, I went with my head and decided to pursue a career that was steady, Midwifery. But that wasn’t what life had planned for me, and I was about to find out the hard way. I didn’t even have Journalism down on my CAO form until the very last minute, when I made the best decision of my life in swapping it with Law Plus. There was something in the back of my mind telling me to put it down, and I decided to just go for it.

Back to my results; as if I wasn’t already pissed off enough with them, I’d gotten a C1 in English. I was absolutely raging, I’d never gotten less than a B in the subject. Looking through my paper while sobbing away, I realised that I’d panicked and messed the whole thing up. But I decided to get it rechecked, even though my teacher said that there was a very slim chance that I’d go up a grade. Again, I had this feeling that I needed to do it, so I did. I got Geography rechecked too, and being only one mark off the next grade I was pretty sure that I’d go up. I didn’t, but surprisingly I went up in English. This gave me the B3 requirement that I needed for Journalism, and in week 6 of college I was able to transfer to it from New Media and English (and no, they’re not the same thing, at all).

All these signs and niggling little feelings had been steering me towards the right path in life, even if they had come in some wicked disguises. Being five points off my first choice (and my 2nd-6th all soaring to higher points than the first!), putting Journalism on my CAO form last minute, getting a scholarship, going up a grade in English even though I’d messed up the whole exam, all just little things that were signs of greater things to come. Because I’d believed in myself, and believed that there was a reason behind everything, what seemed like one of the worst things to ever happen to me turned out to be the best.

This time last year, I could have never imagined being where I am today. I thought I’d be a year into my Midwifery degree, but here I am as a student journalist. I’ve had work published in the likes of the Irish Independent and the Irish Sun, I’m the Entertainment Editor of Campus.ie and I’m spending my summer travelling all over the country to review music festivals and interview all the different artists because I’ve been given media passes. I really couldn’t be happier and I’m doing something that I love. So if you’re finished your exams and you’re scared that you 050haven’t got enough points for the course you want, just remember this; what’s meant to be will always find its way. There’s a reason behind everything, having some belief in that as well as believing in yourself will take you very far.

This blog was inspired by this Timehop today!

 

Choosing a College Course: What You Need To Know

Choosing a college course was easy for me, or so I thought. I was adamant that I knew what I wanted to study, and where I wanted to study it. But looking back, I’ve learned that I really wasn’t that well informed. Of course our career guidance teacher tried to help us out, but with one class a week and over 90 students it wasn’t exactly possible to give undivided attention to everyone individually. So here are a few of the things that I wish I’d known/did/didn’t do when I filled out that scary little CAO form.

  1. Don’t choose a course for the money

I can’t even recall how many times I was told “Just be a teacher, sure the money’s great and you get loads of holidays!” and at one point I actually considered it. But when I got to college I was seriously glad that I didn’t go down that route; the amount of people that I’ve met who hate their course and only chose it because of the money you’ll get in the job after is crazy. Seeing future engineers struggling with their 500 hours of college a week and mountain of work that they’re not even interested in frankly pains me a little. If you choose a course that you’re not going to be interested in, all you’re doing is making life more difficult for yourself. If you don’t like it, you won’t attend lectures or study, and where will that lead to? Dropping out and changing course. Save yourself the hassle and pick a course that you like the idea of, will be interested in and think you’ll be good at.

  1. Do your research

I can’t shout this out to you leaving certs enough, research, research and research some more! I thought I had everything possible looked at when it came to the course that I wanted, which was Midwifery. Basically, all I did was look up all the colleges that did the course and fired them onto my CAO form. I can now see that if I’d gotten Midwifery, I more than likely would have ended up either overloaded with stress and anxiety or dropping out altogether. My advice for looking at courses would be first of all, to research all the colleges that do the course, taking into account the points difference. The best college won’t necessarily have the highest points. I know on the UL site, there’s contact numbers and email addresses for course directors. Don’t be afraid to contact them and ask questions about the course, that’s what they’re there for. Even have them get you into contact with somebody who’s currently doing the course, to get their opinions of it. You can never have enough information! Finally, and most importantly, check what modules you’ll be doing. This is something that I should have done but didn’t, and it catches a lot of people out, especially with Maths. There’s a lot of courses that include maths that you wouldn’t really think would. Make sure you know what you’re letting yourself in for!

  1. Don’t listen to “You won’t get a job out of that course.”

This was something that I listened to, and could have very ended up regretting. I always loved writing and had a passion for English, but was told to keep away from Journalism because there were “no jobs in it” and it was a “dying career”. Subsequently, I put Journalism and New Media in UL down as 7th on my CAO form and after missing my first choice by a mere 5 points, ended up getting it. Fate? I think so! Let me tell you a little about the six months of experience that I’ve had with this “dying career”. Two weeks after I started, I had an interview published in The Irish Sun. I’ve had an article published with TheJournal.ie (and *spoiler* another one coming up). I run a blog that’s had many successful posts and have racked up almost 20,000 views. Because of this blog, I had a piece published in a book on mental health where all proceeds went to Pieta House. I contribute articles to different websites such as SpunOut.ie and Campus.ie, and I’m about to start a weekly mental health column for an up and coming online magazine. I’m part of the team of social media coordinators on Instagram for Darkness Into Light (follow us, we follow back: www.instagram.com/darknessintolight.ie) and I’m also the Public Relations Manager for a new Netflix documentary in production, which I’ll be getting paid for. Sure, I’m not getting paid for 90% of that stuff but you know what? I enjoy it. It’s going to look great on my CV and we all have to start at the bottom, even nurses do unpaid placement nowadays. So back to the point: I’m only in first year and I’ve already done lots with this career. The more you try, the more you succeed my friends.

I hope you all learned a little from this!

Study Tips

So there’s a little less than 13 weeks until my exams start now, and it’s starting to stress me out quite a bit. I know there’s no point in stressing, because I’m doing all that I can, but of course it’s only natural to feel this way. Here are some of my tips on getting through the next few weeks with your sanity in tact!
Know exactly what you want. Honestly I think what’s helped me in studying the most is knowing exactly what I need out of each subject. It gives you something to work towards and ensures that you spend the right amount of time on your topics. For me, I want a B2 in English, a B3 in Irish, a D3 in ordinary level maths, a C1 in French, an A2 in Geography, a B1 in Home Ec and a B3 in Biology. When you first add up what you need, I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty daunting! But as the weeks go by and you get better and better at your subjects, it becomes more achievable and you start to feel a lot more optomistic. You might be finding it hard to achieve that B3 in Irish, but if you are, step up your game to get 1 grade higher in Biology instead!
Do NOT get hung up over your mocks. I’ve seen people absolutely devestated over their mock results, and I know it’s tough when you don’t get the result you’re working towards, but you need to remember that THEY’RE ONLY A TEST RUN! It would be ridiculous to expect to get your ideal points in the mocks, especially if they’re high. We don’t even have the full course covered in a lot of subjects, let alone revised! You could have been studying Geography since September, and be half way through revising the course, but have been completely unlucky in the mocks because nothing you studied came up. So is that an accurate reflection of how you’ll do in the real exams? No it is not! By then you’ll have a lot more topics covered and you’re gonna do a lot better. Remember that an average student goes up 10% in each subject from their mocks, and that’s just the average student, not the ones that work hard! Half the mocks aren’t even corrected properly, I have a feeling that my Biology mock was corrected by a young child or a chimp or something seeing as they forgot to add up my marks for half a long question. Yep. Idiot. So make sure you go through them yourself!
Study your mock paper. When you get your paper back, know where you went wrong and fill in all the right answers to make it A grade standard. Ask your teacher for the other mock paper too (they get sent one from DEB and one from ExamCraft) because these mocks are those companies predictions on what will come up on the real thing. Don’t rely solely on it, but be smart!
Don’t panic. As a person who suffered, and still does suffer a little, from anxiety, I know that’s easier said than done. But it becomes a more simple task once you know WHY it’s better to relax. For starters, our mind is split into two parts: your conscious mind, and your subconscious mind. Usually, we can’t get to our subconscious mind because we’re too busy listening to our conscious thoughts! But remember this, your subconscious mind is like a video recorder. It records every moment of your life, everything you’ve ever learned. So why can’t we remember everything? Because we’re too busy listening to our conscious thoughts of course! When you get into an exam and panic, thinking “Oh god is is it mitosis?! Is it binary fission?! What’s the answer? I don’t know any of this!” this is your conscious mind. If you take a few breaths and let your mind clear up of all these panicky thoughts you’re more likely to find the answer at the back of your head, in your subconscious mind. This is a technique that I find very effective!
Use different methods of study. For me, the same methods of study don’t work for every subject. For Home Ec, I can read over the chapter a few times and I’ll know it. For geography, all it takes for me is to write a sample answer out in my own handwriting, highlight key words, and look over it a few times. For English I use mind maps, I get grinds for Irish, and I have to write things out a million times before they’ll sink into my head for French. Flash cards are also a very effective method of studying, and so is completing exam paper questions although you may not think it. My advice for Home Ec and Biology would be to do all the exam paper questions on a chapter once you’ve finished that chapter. And I mean ALL of them; that way you figure out exactly which questions get asked most frequently. It’s all about being sly!
Analyse those exam papers. What I mean by this isn’t reading through them. What I’m about to explain takes a long time, and a lot of concentration, but can be extremely beneficial. I do this for Geography, Home Ec and Biology, and they did really help for the mocks. Taking Geography for example, what you need to do is make a list of every single sample answer that can come up. Yup, every last one. Once you’ve made that list, you need to figure out how many times it’s come up in the last few years (how common it is) and when the last time it came up was. This way, you can eliminate certain topics and focus on what’s more important. These three subjects are extremely predictable, and I can post my predictions another time if you guys want me to as long as you DO NOT RELY ON THEM 100% because as we all know from the Sylvia Plath crisis a few years back, predictions aren’t always accurate. You find out which topics are asked all the time, and can narrow down your workload, so it’s a win-win situation really!

Wow this was long, oops. Good luck to you all with your mock results, and as I said, don’t get too down if you don’t get what you want. Have faith in yourself and be optomistic; a negative mind set never created a positive outcome.

The Mocks

Hmm, where will I start?
To be honest I thought the mocks would be a lot worse. I thought they’d make me cry an unbelievable amount and that I’d launch into spontaneous panic attack during each exam, when really, I was okay.
I’m aiming for 475 in the leaving cert, and honestly I’ll be over the moon if I hit 420, or even 415 in the mocks. I know they’re not exactly good to go by, seeing as a half the time they’re not corrected properly and the teachers can be pretty obvious with hints in the weeks before the exam itself. But I thought they were great for timing, and I’m using them in a positive light, to see where I need to focus my work on.
This year I’m studying English, Irish, Maths, French, Geography, Biology an Home Ec. Maths is my only ordinary level subject and it’s extremely hard trying to juggle it when I’m so bad at it, along with the six honours subjects that I’m actually using to count in my points.
So far, I’ve gotten two mock results back. I got a D2 in maths, which I was absolutely over the moon with considering only 10 people in my year passed ordinary level maths. And I got a C2 in biology which I was also very happy with, because I thought it was my worst exam.
For the 475 I want in the real thing, I’m hoping to get an A2 in geography, a B1 in home ec, a B2 in english, B3’s in irish and biology and a C1 in french. It’s pretty wishful thinking, I know, but if you aim for the moon you’ll fall amongst the stars!

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