What do you want to be when you grow up? We all ask our children this question when they are small.
Often we hear back "I want to be a nurse, a doctor, a teacher, a fireman, a shopkeeper, a farmer, a model, an astronaut". The list goes on, at the minute my 7 year old Inbetweener wants to be a WWE Wrestler. Of course, I tell him he can be anything he wants to be and would make an excellent wrestler.
My daughter has just finished her Junior Cert mocks and is now faced with this question for real. It's make your mind up time as she prepares to enter the Leaving Cert cycle later this year and has to decide on her subject choices.
The truth is very few young people of 15 years of age are sure of what they want to do after school and they will change their mind no doubt a number of times before they actually sit their Leaving Cert.
As a parent I want to help my daughter make the right decision for her, yes I have my opinions and can offer advice but ultimately she will have to decide this one herself and there are so many factors to consider.
The first thing we talked about was the subjects that she was most interested in and the ones that she was best at, these naturally tie together I suppose because we normally excel at things we like to do.
The next thing we looked at was career paths and how would these subjects relate. With certain subjects you can limit your options when it comes to deciding on a career and also getting into different universities. It's good to have a mix if possible and I think a language is always useful. After that we looked at some colleges and the entry requirements for those.
Thankfully, the school guidance teacher had given out information on different careers and subjects required for each one as well as grades for certain universities which saved some research.
Even at this stage we are talking points required for getting into third level and she hasn't sat her Junior Cert!
But at the end of the day, you need the points to get the course you want and to get this you have to do the best exam that you can. That's why, to me it makes more sense to choose subjects you like in order to maximise your points and that's what I have advised my daughter to do.
Then there is always a bone of contention in our house with regards to higher level maths. So many students drop higher level maths for Leaving Cert and my daughter wants to do the same. I won't push her on it but it's worth it if you have the genuine ability because of the extra points.
I remember doing higher level maths and yes it was difficult, but as with all things I say don't knock it till you've tried it. Too many people rule out higher level maths before they even give it a chance - if I managed to pass it I think anybody can.
So, after a good few evenings of talking and researching she has decided on her subjects and more importantly she is happy with her choice.
What more can I say - this time next week she may be thinking on a different career path, at the moment she would love to study Home Economics and Biology with the hope of becoming a secondary school teacher. This course also opens other doors for her apart from teaching because at the minute there are not too many opportunities for teachers here. But as a back up she wants to complete a Hair and Beauty course because everybody needs their hair and make-up done - sounds to me like she knows what she wants!
It's strange and a little bit scary to think that not so long ago we were having these conversations as a 4 year old when she wanted to own a clothes shop and more importantly telling me her socks didn't match her dress so we would have to change before going out!
Whatever path she chooses in life she knows that I will always be here for her and she will always be my little girl - even when she's my age!