What I’d Tell My Leaving Cert Self

DUTCH REPUBLICAbout 18 months ago, I went to my local hair salon, with me I had a picture of exactly what I wanted, something a little bit different from my natural jet black look, but still fun and natural. She washed, she dried, she bleached, she dried, she showed me the finished result…

I looked something like Kelly Clarkson circa 2002. Just straight yellow streaks on my jet black hair. Fuming, I went to work the next day with my hair tied back and left after one hour. My students wouldn’t dare comment anyway (Cos I is intimidating af, innit) but I made sure to avoid my colleagues incase one of them fakes a compliment – I’m already looking for a fight. After work, I went straight to the hairdresser. It was 11am and it opens at 4pm but thankfully, the hairdresser also lives there so I had no qualms banging on her door until she woke up opened the door, fixed my hair and threw in a free pedicure. This was the finished result. Not too shabby.


It is with the same significance that I look back at my leaving cert. For years, everybody has been telling you that this is the most important thing in your life because it decides the fate for the rest of it. Guess what? They lied. Your teachers lied, your parents lied, your older siblings lied, and your fellow classmates lied.

CAO offers will be released this Monday (22nd) and there are supposedly two outcomes

A) You get the course you wanted
B) You don’t get the course you wanted.


But…. did anyone tell you what are the outcomes after Option A?

You enjoy your course114837-magic-marker-icon-arrows-arrow11-rightGet a job in the same field114837-magic-marker-icon-arrows-arrow11-rightContinue in that career path114837-magic-marker-icon-arrows-arrow11-right Live happily ever after.

Sounds good for some, sounds terrifying for others, but it’s not always the case. There is every possibility that you will hate the course and hate your university.

You might even…

Develop an interest in something completely different114837-magic-marker-icon-arrows-arrow11-right Drop out114837-magic-marker-icon-arrows-arrow11-right Apply for another course114837-magic-marker-icon-arrows-arrow11-right Live happily ever after.

What about option B?

You can…

1. Wait for next year.

2. Get your papers checked for that extra 5 point difference

3. Repeat your leaving cert

4. Do a level 7 course and apply for the level 8 course next year

5. Do a free skillnet degree

6. Try something else. Drop out if you hate it. Apply again next year.

There are so many options available. Make sure you know them all to avoid paying crazy fees. There is such a taboo when it comes to dropping out of college. Is it really worth pursuing something you have no interest in just to keep your elderly gossiping distant family members happy? (SPOILER: No, No it’s not). This is a lesson that I earned too late. With Arab parents it often seems as if you’re only options are…

Medicine // Engineering 

Neither of which I wanted to do, but I went for the one I saw to be less excruciating – Engineering. A sturdy, reliable career in chemical engineering. What could go wrong? Queue years of torture until this exact moment in time where I know exactly what I want to do. It took me years (not too many years, it hasn’t been that long since my Leaving cert k) to figure out that I can do what I wanted to do, and if I could tell my leaving cert self one thing it would be Just do it. Just drop out, Sahar. I’d go back in time and NOT look at my CAO form as a life altering form. I’d look at it and think, this is what I want to do and if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just come knocking on that door again and demand a free pedicure too!

I remember when I got my results, I wasn’t surprised, I wasn’t excited, it was what I expected and I knew it meant I probably got into Engineering. CAO Monday rolled around, I didn’t even get out of bed but at 630am, I crawled to the bottom of my bed and logged into my PC to see my results, yup as expected. “I GOT ENGINEERING” I screamed to my mother downstairs and crawled back up to my pillow. After working as I did, a leaving cert student should feel a lot more joy than that. A leaving cert student should be made aware of their options.

You didn’t get the one you wanted? Try again.

You don’t like your course? Drop out. Apply for the one you want.

You don’t know what that is? Take some time off to figure that out, don’t force yourself into something you don’t want to do.

It’s really that simple, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The leaving cert isn’t the only path to get to where you want to be, and if anyone tells you otherwise, why don’t you ask them how they got where they are? Chances are it wasn’t because of that A1 in Honours Maths.

Best of luck on Monday, my pretty little chickens. I hope it all works out, whether it’s now or eventually… You do you.



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