Friday 28 October 2016

Going to college: There's still time to change your mind...

Published 04/05/2016 | 02:30

Guidance counsellor, Aoife Walsh
Guidance counsellor, Aoife Walsh

It may seem like it has been a long time since the CAO took up the thoughts of many sixth year students. Over the past three months, Leaving Cert candidates have been busy taking their mock exams, painstakingly preparing Sraith Pictiúr and doing their orals, in addition to completing practical exams in areas such as agricultural science and engineering. Now that this has all passed, students may want to dust off the CAO handbook and take another look at the courses for which they have applied.

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The CAO Change of Mind period begins tomorrow and remains open until July 1, during which time applicants may make any changes to the list of courses already submitted. There are very few restrictions on what changes can be made. It is possible to reorder courses, remove courses and add courses that an applicant may not have listed previously, once they are not 'restricted entry' - courses that require applicants to complete a requirement beyond points or certain subjects. This may include an audition, a suitability test, an interview or portfolio.

There is no charge for making changes and applicants may make as many as they wish. The most convenient way is through the My Application section on However, it is also possible to make changes through a postal application.

When approaching Change of Mind applicants could begin by reviewing the list of preferences they submitted before February 1. They should begin by considering each course listed and ask themselves 'Would I still be happy if I received a place on each of these courses?'

If an applicant has a course listed for which they would not accept a place, if one was offered, they should consider removing it from their choices.

Then applicants should reconsider their order or preference. The CAO list should always be completed in genuine order of preference. Applicants should ask themselves 'Out of all of the courses in which I am interested, which do I want the most?' and this course should be listed in the first box. The answer may have changed since January and that is okay.

Next, they should revisit their course research. They may discover more courses for which they would like to apply. These can be added to the list and, once again, in genuine order of preference. In addition, applicants should check the college alert lists available on for new courses, released after the CAO handbook was published.

Applicants may wish to do this for both their Level 8 and their Level 6/7 lists, paying particular attention to any list they may have neglected when applying originally. It is important to use as many of the 20 course choices as possible as the CAO can only offer applicants a place on courses for which they have applied.

Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin

Question: My daughter found a course called Sustainable Development in Edinburgh University. Is there an equivalent in Ireland? She enjoys science but doesn’t want to study it to the exclusion of the arts.

Answer: To my knowledge there is no exact equivalent in Ireland. The large number of universities in the UK means it is possible for them to offer a greater variety of specialised courses. The course your daughter is interested in has a strong humanities base. So, I would suggest an arts or humanities degree with the opportunity to study geography or social sciences would give a good grounding, after which she could pursue a masters or postgrad in sustainable development. If she preferred a stronger science element, TCD offers geography as part of their general science degree. For more specific courses in sustainability she could consider environmental and natural resource management at Limerick IT, science-environmental science and sustainable technology at Cork IT. However, from your email I believe this may be moving away from your daughter’s area of interest and an arts degree may be more appropriate.

Important dates


Open Day — Blackrock Further Education Institute

Open Day — Griffith College Dublin

Open Evening — Irish College of Humanities & Applied Sciences

Information Sessions — National Learning Network, Roslyn Park  College

Reply to Offers by this date for decisions received by March 31 — UCAS

May 5

Online Change of Mind facility Becomes Available — CAO

Medicine/Dentistry Entrance Exams for Charles Uni Faculty of Medicine Prague — Dublin International Foundation College

Final Date — University Decisions for 15th January Applications — UCAS

Medicine Visiting Programme — University College Dublin

May 10

Open Evening — Dublin Business School

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