Mature student Rachel Comerford tells us how going to college may not be a direct route.
Twenty-nine. I was twenty-nine when applied to college. I felt like I was crazy. I was too old. The course I was applying for was something I never thought I would do but, there I was applying. One thing that didn’t matter to me this time was CAO points. The CAO points didn’t matter fourteen years previous either because I was not ready nor had I any interest at the time in attending a college course. In the words of my guidance counsellor, “I was not cut out for college life”.
Now she was not wrong. I am a dreamer, always have been. I coasted through secondary school, achieving grades with not much thought or study. I crammed and it worked - I still cram and it still works. So, I  filled out the CAO back then, but I never submitted it. I did well enough in my Leaving Cert and I could have gotten a place in college. The thing was, I had no clue what I wanted to do or be when I grew up. So, instead of forcing myself through something I had no interest in, I got a job.
I worked for almost seven years between finishing secondary school and deciding to make the move to become a college graduate. I had fun. While most of my friends were studying and working part-time, I was earning money - and spending it as quick as I got it. I learned things that I knew college wouldn’t have taught me. I breezed through life. In those seven years, I worked several jobs that taught me life skills, pushed me to limits and shaped a small section of my life.
I moved to Dublin and I moved home again, I fell in love with a Dub and I moved back. We worked, we had fun but there was always the threat that neither of us having college educations along with nd the changing requirements of companies meant we both soon were hit in the face with the reality was eventually we would need to educate ourselves in the hopes of making our lives better.
It took a few years, the arrival of two children and a definite “where is my life going” moment before I was prompted to apply for a place as a college student. In 2015, I sat at my kitchen table answering the required questions and then I pressed confirm. In July, I received an email from I.T Carlow offering me a place on the Media and Public Relations course, and I nervously accepted. While I might not be having the same college experience as the rest of my class, I am there, like everyone else, to focus on the future. 
I was not ready for college at seventeen and I can 100% be certain that I would never have made it through a course because I would have got distracted by having fun. But I am now at the stage of my life where I have a clear idea of where I want to go.
There will be so many offers going out to homes over the next while ,but reaching the decision that is right for you might take time. You have time. Don’t panic. If you feel you need to do extra research on the course you have chosen, then do it! There will always be that one person who has known what they want to do with their lives from the time they were four – you might not be that person. Not everyone is. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. It took fourteen years to decide who I was and what made me. 
The decisions you make might not be the right ones at the times, but sometimes the wrong decisions turn out to be the best ones you make. The rest of your life is not truly defined by the points system or what Felicia down the road has decided to do with her life. 
You will always have another chance to be exactly what you want to be, and sometimes the bumps in the road throw you in the best direction. Over the next couple of days, take time. Don’t over think and stay calm. You will reach the right choice. It took me fourteen years but I got there. 
You will too.