Leaving Cert results don’t determine success in life

A man holding the words success

Thousands of teenagers have just completed their Leaving Certificate exams and they have spent the past year or more being told how important it is. It can be easy to feel that standardised exams such as the Leaving Certificate are society’s way of telling us what we are all worth and there’s no doubt that your results in these exams can affect your future. But we all have different intelligences, processes and ways of thinking and standardised exams are most suited to people who think in one particular way.

In a lot of cases, the Leaving Certificate tends to reward people who can learn vast lists of content in an organised and structured manner. There are many types of people who don’t enjoy and find it challenging to learn or think in this particular way but they have to take the same standardised exams as everyone else. To compound the problem, people who have other forms of intelligence (artistic expression, practical skills, great interpersonal skills etc.) are made to feel like failures because they don’t do well on exams that aren’t suited to them.

At Career Fit, we don’t think success in life is determined by learning vast lists of content in a systematic way. According to one of Ireland’s most renowned economists, David McWilliams, resourcefulness and resilience are two crucial qualities necessary to excel in today’s world. He believes that the ability to develop strategies to deal and respond to “failures” and see what’s coming next is a big determinant of success. Standardised exams that don’t allow experimentation and failure can present huge issues for our society as people can be labelled successes or failures based on their performance in just one set of exams. But in the real world, experimentation and failure is one of the keys to success for fast-moving and successful business.

The hype of academic achievement isn’t always helpful for those who excel academically either. According to Brian O’Flynn, a student who got 7 A1s in the Leaving Certificate in 2014, his achievements led him to take a course that he hated and that he felt he had suppressed his true calling. He took the course because he felt that that is what somebody in his position should take. He left the course after he came to the realisation that although we are all conditioned at an early age to believe that success and failure are objective conditions, this may not be the case at all. He believes (as do we at Career Fit and ETC Consult) that success is an entirely subjective concept that comes from following the passions and activities that will bring you fulfillment and happiness.

This is exactly why we created Career Fit, because we also believe that success in your career comes from doing something that you will enjoy. We have three different online career guidance exercises that will help you to find practical careers that are suitable for your unique mix of interests and aptitudes.

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