Tuesday 27 September 2016

No need to rush a decision on your CAO offer

Applicants have a full week to decide whether to accept or decline their offers

Aoife Walsh

Published 17/08/2015 | 06:00

Aoife Walsh, a highly experience guidance counsellor
Aoife Walsh, a highly experience guidance counsellor

If you received a CAO offer today, congratulations. Getting an offer for a place in higher education is a huge achievement and should be celebrated.

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For many receiving a CAO offer, today is the final step in a long hard year. Remember that all CAO applicants have an entire week to make their decisions and accept (or not) their offer. There is no reward or benefit for accepting an offer immediately. So whether an applicant's initial reaction is elation or disappointment it may be helpful to take some time to allow these first feelings to settle before making any decisions or confirming an acceptance.

This is especially true if applicants receive offers for a course at both Level 8 and Level 6 or 7 or if the offer received is not what was expected. There are other options, so take time and consider all your options slowly and carefully.

Whether it is Level 8 or Level 7/6, a course is accepted in the same way. In recent years, most students have accepted their offers online. To do this, follow the instructions on the CAO website ensuring that each page is worked through until the end of the process is reached. Then print a receipt. Applicants should ensure that they retain a copy of their acceptance.

All successful applicants also receive a formal offer by post and you can accept it, by post, by following the instructions and returning your acceptance to the CAO office in Galway. If applicants chose to accept their offer in this way it is important to ensure that it is posted in good time and that a certificate of postage is requested, which should be retained as evidence that the acceptance was returned in good time.

Once the CAO has received an acceptance they will send an acknowledgement which should arrive within three working days. They will also send an email acknowledgement if an email address is supplied. If an offer is not accepted by 5.15pm on August 24, the CAO will assume the applicant has decided not to accept the offer and places will be passed on to the next candidate during the second round of offers.

Some applicants may be hoping to receive a higher offer at the second round. Offers are made at Round Two only if there are places unfilled after Round One. This means that there is no guarantee that a place will become available. All applicants should view their first round offer as the only offer they will receive and make their decision on this basis alone. If a place becomes available on a course that an applicant has listed as a higher preference, and the applicant is next in line, they will receive an offer regardless of whether or not they have accepted a place during Round One. The applicant may then choose to stay with their original offer or accept their new offer.

There is no fee for accepting a CAO offer. The CAO will communicate the acceptance to the institution, which will contact each applicant with arrangements for beginning the course. If an applicant is holding an offer at a further education college they should contact the institution and let them know they will no longer be pursuing that place as soon as they have decided to accept their CAO offer. This will allow the place to be passed on to another applicant.

As this is a very busy time for the CAO it is not possible for them to handle telephone calls. If you have a question or query go to the 'contact us' section of the CAO website, which has answers to frequently asked questions. If the question is not answered there, then use that section to email the query directly to the CAO including as much information as possible including the CAO number, and a contact number in case they need to ring you. They will then contact you with a reply.

The CAO promise to reply to all queries by the end of the next working day.

Irish Independent

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