.... was very much like this.
[Note: non-Irish readers will have to read the above post to fully understand the rest of this one.]
The "perceived prestige of high points requirements" that is described was very real. With a decisiveness that has marked my subsequent career ;-), I switched successively from law to engineering to English.
Several years later, I turned up at the Dental Hospital in Dublin for some treatment. I ended up seeing somebody who had been in the same [high]school as I had been. He was very puzzled at what I had done, especially when I had had enough points to be a ... dentist ;-)