How Irish schools confuse the American system

Today’s fun was going to the high school to pick out courses for the boys.

And by “fun”, I mean “I wished I was able to get coffee first.”

We were rushed for time, which didn’t help.  I brought the paperwork we had from the Irish school…

…let me back up…

Before the school year ended, I called the boys Irish school and asked for transcripts, as we were moving.  The secretary said “What do you mean transcripts?”

“Um, their records?”

“Well you should have gotten their grades, do you not have those?”

“Yes, but any other paperwork from the school…Americans like paperwork…”

“Oh, I’m not sure, here, I’ll put you through to the deputy principal, you can leave a message for him…”

So what I have in terms of “records” are end of year exam grades, Collin’s Junior Certificate certificate with exam scores, and his completion of Transition Year certificate.  Plus two letters of recommendation, one for each boy.

Needless to say, the American School System is NOT impressed with the Irish School System’s lack of paperwork.

So today, we got to confuse someone new with our lack of paperwork, with the added fun of lack of course breakdown.

It went like this –

School Counselor (SC) – “So! What math did you take?”

Sean – “Maths.”

SC – “Yes, but which course?  Algebra?  Geometry?”

Sean – “It was all called “Maths”.”

Me – “Collin, explain Maths.”

Then there was science.

SC – “Which science did you take?”

Collin stepped in for this one, as Sean was looking a bit shell-shocked from all the choices he had to make – “It was just General Sciences.”

SC – “So was it biology…chemistry…”

Collin – “Just general science.”

Then things got a bit more tricky due to lack of Formal Records, US Style.

SC – “Did you take PE?”

Boys – “Yes.”

SC – “How many credit hours?”


SC – “Did they have credit hours?”

Me – “No…they don’t do credit hours there…”

SC – “What about the transcripts, what do they say?”

Me – “They don’t really do transcripts.”

SC – “Well what DID they give you?”

Me – hands over grades and letters.

SC – “Well, you guys will have to take extra PE since there’s no record of credit hours.”

Poor boys – all that rugby and hurling for nothing.

Thank goodness we could prove that Collin did two years of French at least.  He could have done more French, but at that point, we were all a bit rushed and the boys were completely overwhelmed with the whole course selection thing and the school counselor had to run to a staff meeting…

We’ll see how this goes.  The school counselor mentioned we could straighten out all the Irish stuff with someone else.

I shall make sure I bring coffee to THAT meeting.


PS – I just want to note that the school counselor was nice and friendly and doing her best to make sense of things.  But I’m pretty sure we overwhelmed her as much as we were overwhelmed.