Eimear Kelly shares her experience of a year out before college, and why it can be the best decision for those struggling to make a choice.
In sixth year while nearly everyone else had decided which course they wanted to do in the following September and in which college, I was adamant to take a year out.
There are two main reasons for this. The first was that I was still very unsure of where I wanted to go from there. I had some courses and colleges in mind of course, but deciding what you want to spend the rest of your life doing is no easy task. I considered attending UL, NUIG, UCC and NCAD. I considered courses ranging from English, psychology, arts, visual culture and even makeup artistry to name a few. I spent endless hours researching an endless amount of courses. I had come up with so many options that I was at a loss of what I should actually choose. I was unsure of which would suit me best, which I would enjoy the most and which would get me where I want to be.
The second main reason that I chose to take a year out was because of my age. I had just turned 17 when I sat the Leaving Cert, very young, I know. I decided that I would prefer to be eighteen heading off to college and that I had plenty of time to spare. It was suggested to me in third year that I should do Transition year but the idea of an extra year in school did not appeal to me whatsoever.
My year out gave me a great chance to properly consider each course I had in mind, without the added stress of the Leaving Cert and the pressure to make my decision quickly. I spent a lot of time figuring out what interested me most and did even more research on college courses and careers in an attempt to figure out what would suit me. I did every quiz under the sun to determine which career sector I should be in, I asked people for their opinions and spoke to people doing courses that interested me.
Despite what some people may think, a year out is not a particularly easy year. I failed to get a proper job despite my constant trying, which made boredom a common problem. This may not seem like a big deal but boredom becomes an issue when it’s a regular thing. I spent a lot of time at home which isn’t healthy either. I also had a severe lack of a proper routine which affected me more than I expected it would, and I often doubted my decision to take a year out.
However, I stayed optimistic about getting a job and kept myself busy as much as I could. I discovered new hobbies than I didn’t know I would enjoy. I educated myself further on topics and issues that interested me, which also helped me figure out how I should fill out the CAO. I grew a lot as a person during my year out (not in height unfortunately), I’m more mature and independent. I know what I like, I have strong opinions on certain issues and I’m definitely more confident in myself now. Also, a break from the education system definitely didn’t cause me any harm! I finally chose what I thought should be my first choice and I am absolutely delighted with the choice I made.
If for any reason you are considering taking a year out, my advice would be to go for it. A lot can happen in the space of a year and a lot can change. Delaying your education by a year is not a big deal. An extra year can help make your decision so much easier- it did for me! Needing a year to take a bit of a breather is perfectly fine. Wanting to travel, work or volunteer for the year is great. Your year out may not be easy but very few things in life are easy. Keeping everything in mind, I can say I’m definitely glad I took a year out, I should never have doubted my decision.