If Leaving Certificate students do not feel like they are ready to enter college this year or they do not receive enough CAO points to secure their chosen course, then they should consider completing a PLC (Post Leaving Certificate) course.
PLC courses are available in schools, colleges and community education centers around the country. These courses serve a variety of purposes, such as equipping school leavers with the necessary skills for the workplace or acting as a stepping stone to third level study.
PLC courses can be a very good option for some, as it allows students some breathing space before committing to third level. Another advantage of doing a PLC course is that they can provide a direct route to third level courses if students do not satisfy point requirements.
PLC courses are usually either one (Level 5) or two years (Level 6) in duration. Essentially, a PLC course is a second chance of getting to college rather than repeating your Leaving Certificate.
PLC courses use three grades: a PASS is equivalent to 20 CAO points, a MERIT is equivalent to 30 CAO points and a DISTINCTION is equivalent to 50 CAO points. Therefore, if a student studies eight modules and receives a distinction in all 8, then this is equivalent to 400 CAO points. With these results, students can make an application to the CAO.
It must, however, be noted that colleges only reserve a limited number of places on their courses for PLC graduates. Therefore, it is important that students receive top marks. If a student completes a PLC Level 6, in some cases they can progress to second year of a course in a Higher Educational Institution (HEI).
If you have your heart set on a particular course at a HEI and wish to enter via a PLC route then it would be advisable to contact the college in question and check out what types of FETAC courses are recognised by the third level institution as some courses require specific courses and modules.
PLC courses are full-time in nature. They offer a blend of “hands-on” practical work, academic work and work experience. Currently, there are over 1,000 courses on offer in some 229 centers in Ireland offering a wide range of disciplines including business, electronics engineering, computing, catering, sport and leisure, theatre and stage, performance art, art craft and design, equestrian studies, multi-media studies, journalism, tourism, marketing, childcare and community care, hairdressing and beauty care, applied science, horticulture etc. On the Department of Education and Science website (www.education.ie), there is a list of PLC courses available which are categorised by county.