Life after the leaving cert

Orla Dwyer

Credit: Mark Carroll Learning to budget for college life

The transition from Leaving Cert to college can be formidable and terrifying. It’s especially huge for people who have no experience of living alone or providing for themselves. Should it be such a massive adjustment, or can some preparation be done beforehand? Wouldn’t it make sense to leave secondary school with practical information rather than just knowing cell structures and fancy words reserved exclusively for English essays?

Perhaps some of the education budget could be invested in reforming the Leaving Cert so students would be more prepared for the world outside of second level education. Introducing subjects applicable to real life such as politics or health education would be useful. Adults always moan that younger generations aren’t politically informed enough. This is easier said than done when you spend most of your time learning things that won’t be relevant after the last exam.

Practical classes would be a major asset for young people who will be living alone and fending for themselves in the big bad world. Cookery lessons, workshops on washing and taking care of your own clothes, and just general advice for how to not die without your parents taking care of you would be great. It may seem like common knowledge to many, but you’d be surprised at how many first years (and beyond) still rely on Mammy to wash their clothes every weekend and give them some frozen dinners.

Budgeting is a huge aspect of college life that school doesn’t prepare you for. In secondary school, all you really budget for is snacks, stress balls and a shoulder to cry on. Once college begins you realise that everything is surprisingly expensive. Spending your money way too quickly is easier done than you may think. Even just some simple workshops on how much money to reserve for food and general expenses would go a long way.

Self-defence would be great to have before deciding it’s probably alright to walk home alone in the dark. Although you’ll hopefully never need it, wouldn’t it be worth it for the few that unfortunately end up in a dangerous situation with no end in sight? It might also put your parents at ease when you flock the nest if you’re able to beat up any potential attackers.

Although a lot of young people go straight to college from Leaving Cert, this obviously isn’t for everyone and secondary school doesn’t really tell you that. There are so many people who go into the workforce, do a PLC, apprenticeships, and a wide variety of other options. If we were more informed about these, it might save people from spending thousands on college only to drop out two weeks in because they realise it wasn’t for them.

While secondary school certainly prepares you for the Leaving Cert, it doesn’t even begin to prepare you for anything beyond that. Some simple tweaks to the education system would really go a long way in removing the doe-eyed look all first years have throughout semester one.

Orla Dwyer