Transition Year is a valuable stepping stone

The debate surrounding whether Transition Year is worth doing or not continues. Here Niamh Cremin, a TY student at St Angela’s College in Cork city, tells us about the benefits — from new friendships forged, to overseas experiences and valuable education programmes
Transition Year is a valuable stepping stone
St Angela's students pictured on their school ski trip in Biberwier, Austria, earlier this year.

TRANSITION Year is an excellent year for all students who partake in it…

It is designed to act as a bridge between the Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate. It is aimed at introducing students to the exciting and diverse world, and to help them gain an in-depth understanding of third level education and beyond.

It is a break from study and hard work after completing the junior cert and it allows time for students to mature and experience work and the real world before the shock of Leaving Certificate hits.

The balance between project deadlines and assignments due consequently develops our time management and organisational skills.

FRIENDSHIPS

With my year group increasing from 93 students to 116 — including foregin exchange students from Spain, Germany, and Mexico — and many new students coming from different schools around Cork — my friends group has multiplied. I have made so many new friends.

Transition Year takes students out of their comfort zone and forces them to socialise and mix with new people which, in turn, allows them to grow in confidence and expand their connections. Through this, I have become particularly friendly with a German exchange student whom I am due to visit in Germany next month.

All these new students have contributed so much to our school community and have integrated so well with us all.

I am very lucky to be attending such a forward-thinking school who embrace all ethnicities and support each student equally in their varied interests.


LOOKING FORWARD

I am one of the youngest students in my year group and I feel that going straight to 5th years and preparing for my Leaving Cert already would come as a shock.

Very few TY students are certain about what they want to do in the future, and TY really aids them in deciding this. The opportunity to try a variety of Leaving Cert subjects and get an insight into the skills required at LC level, assists students in deciding their eventual path going forward. Through stages of aptitude testing, we receive a brief overview of recommended career options tailored towards our skills, talents and interests.

Niamh Cremin.
Niamh Cremin.

OPPORTUNITIES AND EXPERIENCES

My TY mailbox is always active with notifications from my amazing TY coordinator at school, who puts so much effort into ensuring our experience is valuable and rewarding.

Through day-long and week-long courses at UCC, CIT, The Royal College of Surgeons, etc, we always have something to look forward to. A week on the campus of both Cork colleges gave me a great insight and understanding of programmes and courses available.

Every Monday morning, we get a visit from various guest speakers from all walks of life- entrepreneurs, charity workers, doctors... They speak to us about what is entailed in their job and how they got there, the first hand information and guidance they gave us was invaluable. Hearing from these amazing people taught us the importance of women in STEM careers (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). We have participated in many workshops, from law, skincare, drama.. These opportunities allow us to try new things and help us discover our likes, dislikes, talents and weaknesses.

Most students complete two or three weeks of work placement at different companies. This allows us to explore career options and experience new things. I completed eight weeks of community work at Cork Penney Dinners, every Tuesday evening, cleaning and preparing meals. Caitriona Twomey and the volunteers are so welcoming towards everyone coming through the door and ensure it is a space of no judgement.

On numerous occasions we also collected in Cork city for local charities such as Simon, SHARE, ISPCC… This made me realise how important it is to give back to the community and be grateful for all I have.

In TY, we are also given the chance to write a book. I have chosen to write my book on my nana, Clare O’Driscoll from the Toy Shop on Shandon Street. An amazing woman, who touched the hearts of all she met and left a huge legacy behind her.

TRAVELS FAR AND WIDE

School trips abroad, bonding activities and overnight stays allows for a bonding experience like no other, while allowing us to make life long memories that will stay with us for life. We have been on many trips and have also just returned from a weeks ski trip at Biberwier, Austria. This was an incredible trip that allowed all students to experience breathtaking landscapes, new nationalities, cultures and cuisines, while participating in a unique and exciting sport.

Every year, St Angela’s as well as a mix of other Cork secondary schools, are given the opportunity to send a select number of students on a once-in-a lifetime two-week ‘Study in China Easter Camp’ Program in Shanghai. It is jointly organised by UCC Confucius Institute, Irish Institute of Chinese Studies (UCC) and Shanghai University. This is an incredible opportunity that is offered to 60 lucky Cork students each year.

After going through stages of interviews and applications, I was honoured to be one of three St Angela’s students chosen for this prestigious programme, and, this dream was finally becoming a reality. However, with the Coronavirus hitting China, the trip has been cancelled. We realise that our safety and wellbeing is paramount. Hopefully, it may be rescheduled for the future.


PASSIONATE ABOUT PROMOTION

This year, I chose the elective Young Social Innovators out of four different subject options. We have three classes a week in this subject. YSI is Ireland’s largest social awareness and active citizenship and education programme for teens. Its main goal is to get young people to tackle a social issue they feel passionate about and choose effective actions to help promote and educate others in their community.

Our class chose the issue of consent and we have given presentations and organised events to teach students about this topical issue. This year’s YSI group have succeeded in organising a conference with many guest speakers attending and have accomplished in reaching a very wide audience.

My school also fully supports any action taken by students for climate change. The planet is the topic of many conversations and, as a school we make huge effort to reduce, reuse, recycle and make our school as green as it possibly can be. Many students who chose mini-company as their elective have taken an environmental approach when developing their products.

ST ANGELA’S COLLEGE

I am a proud St Angela’s College student and am filled with pride to be apart of such a wonderful community of people who show so much respect towards everyone no matter their religion, race or appearance.

St Angela’s has such a fantastic reputation in Cork for being a respectful, welcoming school with such a special atmosphere, which is always remarked upon by students, parents and visitors alike.

Transition Year in my school is incredible and that’s all down to our TY coordinator who puts in so much effort to ensure this is a valuable experience for us all. It is a stepping stone in our school career and is so valuable in helping us mature and discover who we are.

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