Going to college: There is time to change your CAO choices - but only for the right reasons
Many students have just completed or are about to complete their Leaving Cert exams. This is a time for rest, relaxation, and getting back to normal after such a busy year. There is, however, one last task to complete before completely forgetting about the CAO until August.
The CAO Change of Mind process opened on May 5. This process allows applicants to make changes to their original CAO application. Now that the stress of the exams has passed, it is a good time to look over the order of preference on which they have listed courses, course choices and college alert lists to ensure students are completely happy with what they have submitted.
There is no charge for making changes to the CAO during this period and applicants may make as many changes as they like, as frequently as they wish. They may add, remove, or re-order course choices. The CAO will then consider applicants for courses that are listed on their application form when the Change of Mind facility closes on July 1.
Applicants can add any course to their list even if they did not include it in the application they submitted in February. The only exceptions to this are restricted-entry courses, which are clearly marked in the CAO handbook. If applicants have applied for any restricted-entry courses before February 1, they may re-order these. Restricted courses may also be removed if applicants are now aware that they will not be receiving a place on these courses. Some restricted applicants may not make changes during this period but further information is available in the CAO handbook.
Applicants should take this opportunity to revisit their Level 8 and Level 7/ 6 lists carefully and check the college alert list on cao.ie if they have not already done so. Here they will find courses that were introduced during the year, which may not be listed in the CAO handbook. Applicants will also be able to check for changes and cancellations as this may influence their application.
While it is essential for students to ensure they are happy with their CAO list, it is also important that they do not make drastic changes to their choices based on how they perceive they have performed during the exams. We often only remember what we could not answer when we try to analyse our exam performance. This may lead some students to remove some courses, which they later regret when their exam results are better than expected.
The CAO form should be filled out in order of preference only, and applicants should ensure they have filled in as many choices as possible in both the Level 8 and Level 7/6 sections.
Applicants should refrain from trying to predict points etc. Once completed, applicants may wish to scan the list ensuring they have included both their dream courses and just-in-case options.
Many colleges are hosting events this week, to assist students in making their final choices. Some will have live Q&A information sessions, including DCU on June 23 and NUI Galway on June 24, while IT Sligo Institute is running campus tours from Friday June 19 to Wednesday July 1.
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin
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