Are Post Leaving Cert Courses worth the time and effort?

by | Mar 22, 2023 | Teen support

Now is the time to apply for Post Leaving Cert Courses (PLC’s) but I know many parents as well as teenagers will be asking: are those courses worthwhile? There are so many available and new courses being added all the time to all third level institutions. It can also be difficult to understand the pathways that PLC’s provide. So are they worth it?

The short answer is (as it so often is!) “It depends” and that mostly comes down to “it depends on the person applying”. So, how can you work that out for you or your teenager? There are a number of factors that I recommend you consider making that decision.

Factors to make the right decision

  1. Academic ability of the teenager

What grades are they likely to achieve in the Leaving Cert? If they tend to be high and teenager demonstrates a strong study and work ethic, then they are probably best suited to university where they will be able to cope with the step up in complexity of material they will need to learn.

  1. Maturity of the teenager

Tied in with work ethic, do you believe your teenager will be able to step up to the demands of academic study while navigating the demands of a new environment with considerably less parental/adult supervision?

  1. Proximity to home

Many common PLC’s are available in local Colleges of Further Education (CFE’s), close to the teenagers’ homes. Many of the universities may be more distant and your teenager would require accommodation which can be expensive and hard to find.

  1. Desired Career

While many PLC’s are considered stepping stones to more academic qualifications, some are the main route to gain certification such as the now famous Animation courses in Ballyfermot CFE. One of their past pupils have gone on work on famous movies and win Oscars. Oscar Mania at BCFE! Congrats again to Richie Baneham! – BCFE

And it’s also the main route to a qualification in social care.

Image of signpost pointing in opposite directions with text "Making that Decision"

So, to make a decision, is a PLC course worthwhile for your teenager, all of the above factors go into the mix. If your teenager has high academic ability, has the maturity to succeed in university and has no issue with accommodation, PLC’s may not be suitable.

However, if your teenager can achieve low to mid-range of grades in the Leaving Cert, PLC’s provide a fabulous opportunity for them to continue with third level education. They may find that their new setting is more suitable for their type of learning. It is not school where their every move seems to be tracked by an adult and may discover that they are now treated more like the adult they aspire to be.

Colleges of Further Education tend to be smaller than universities and can offer those with Learning Differences or neurodiversity issues a place where they can thrive without being lost in an exhausting environment. And there is normally a smaller step up from secondary school in the level of study material difficult.

Finally, another good reason to apply for a PLC is to have it as a part of a back up plan for the main route through university. Many students don’t achieve the grades they need for their chosen university course and some of these don’t have a good back up plan in place.  I always recommend to my clients apply for similar courses to the one they want but at lower levels. Here’s how they can do that…

Back up Plan

If a student wants to study Commerce in UCD, Level 8 Honours degree, they should also apply for similar Level 8 courses in other universities that may have lower points. In tandem with their Level 8 list, they can also apply for Level 7 and 6 courses on the CAO which operates independently of the Level 8 list. In the unfortunate event of a poor outcome in the Leaving Cert, the student will still have an offer to progress without having the dreaded option of repeating the Leaving Cert. And, of course, apply for a PLC that they can use as a stepping stone to the Level 8 Honours Degree.

So, are Post Leaving Cert courses worth it? I definitely say Yes! With some qualifications of course!

Helen Dillon Careers Coach for Leaving Cert Teenagers


If you would like to learn more, you can read about me.

If you would like to learn more about how I can support your teenager, you can schedule a FREE discovery call here.

Learn about how I support Parents through the Leaving Cert Year with my Online Course.



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