Tackling the CAO
What do you want to do next year? A question that 6th year students are repeatedly asked by family members, friends, and people trying to make small talk. A lucky few can respond with certainty. For the majority however, the best they can muster is a smile, a shrug and a “I’m not sure”. Deciding what you want to do after the Leaving Cert is difficult. If you are considering third level education we would recommend starting planning sooner rather than later. With that in mind, here are our tips for tackling the CAO.
1. Start Early.
The CAO application process opened on the 5th of November. Now is the time to think about what courses you may want to study, before the busy Christmas period and before you are hit by the pressure of homework and revision which accompanies the mocks. This is the ideal time of year to take a break from studying to consider what 3rd level options may appeal to you.
2. Ask Questions.
The best way to find out about a course is to talk to someone who has done it or who is currently studying it. Although it may seem painful to pick up the phone and ask for advice, it can be extremely helpful in making up your mind.
3. Visit where you want to study.
Where you are studying makes up a huge amount of your college life. Having a look around a college can help you make up your mind about whether or not you would like to go there. Attending college open days can also be extremely beneficial in seeing what different colleges have to offer.
4. Make sure to look at level 6 & level 7 courses.
These courses can be really useful. Sometimes they offer interesting topics which you might not find in level 8 degrees. They can also offer an opportunity to enter level 8 courses after a year or two. This can be extremely helpful if you don’t manage to get the required points for certain courses.
5. Don’t get carried away with the points!
List your courses in order of preference, not in order of how many points they require. Even if you think there is no chance of you getting the points for your favourite course, put it down first. You never know how points will change from year to year. Coming towards the bottom of your list it is, however, a good idea to look at a few courses which interest you and you think you have a high chance of getting into, just to make sure you don’t end up stuck with no offers come August. Also, make sure to look at other entry requirements, such as passing higher level Maths, or a certain grade in a modern language, that some courses may require.
In conclusion starting to plan for next year now can avoid a lot of stress when you get to the business end of the year. At the end of the day, don’t worry if you aren’t 100% sure of what you want to do, very frew people really do.
CAO Key Dates:
- 5th of November: Applications opened
- 20th of January: Discounted application fee ends
- 1st of Feb: Applications close
- 5th of Feb: Change of mind facility opens
- 1st of March: Change of mind facility closes
- 5th of May: Change of mind facility reopens
- 1st of July: Final change of mind facility closes
These dates have been taken from the CAO website and may be subject to change, we would advise confirming them on the CAO website.
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