Seven tips that will help you deal with CAO stress
Published 19/05/2016 | 16:38
With the Leaving Cert just around the corner, the last thing students need to be worrying about is their CAO forms to apply for college courses in September.
These tips will help make the process less daunting so you can spend more time focusing on the exams.
1. Choose a course based on your own interests, strengths and passion
Don’t base your college course on what your friends are doing or where they are going. Many students pick courses because their parents told them to or to stay closer to home. College courses range from three to four years so make sure you pick a course that you will have an interest in.
A third year Law student in DCU said: “You should choose something you know you have an interest in rather than picking something that your best Leaving Cert subjects apply to. I was good at History and English which are two of the most relevant subjects to law, but found law to be very different to both of them.”
2. Do your research on your chosen course
Most college websites have sections on what job opportunities you can have on completion of your degree. Have a read and see what options you will have.
Colleges usually have past students’ experiences to let you know what the course will offer. For example if you want to study music with the hope of becoming a performer, make sure the course you’re choosing has as much practical learning as it does theory.
Alison Ring, final year Journalism student said she has no interest in pursuing a career in journalism: “I had researched the course pretty well and I thought I was suited to it.
"I had even spoken to a girl who'd dropped out of the course in first year and she had explained the negatives and what she didn't like but I still decided to go ahead with it. I thought the prospectus was contradictory to the reality of the course, we weren't writing half as much as I'd expected. I think had I known more about the reality of the job I would've chosen something else definitely.”
3. Don’t base your course on job availability
When you’re finished your degree, who knows what the market will be like so do a course you’ll love, not what will make you rich. While being realistic is necessary, not choosing a degree in arts or media because of the reported lack of jobs will only leave you with a course you don’t really want to do. We can’t all want to be computer scientists.
Alex Lloyd, final year Communications student said: "I definitely wouldn't change my decision, communications was a great course. I think what I liked about it was the fact that it makes you come out of your shell a lot.
"So what you're lacking in theoretical knowledge you're gaining in your ability to deal with people and your confidence, so it does have a really practical sense to it in everyday life. I'd much rather be happy with my course and have time to get into the right career than just jump into a job I don't really like for the sake of money."
4. Visit your chosen college
Make sure you visit the college you want to go to before finalising your CAO form. See the campus and explore the student life before narrowing down your choice. While one college might be known for its academic excellence, another might offer a better student life and college experience.
Eimear Byrne, third-year student at Marino College wanted to go to St. Pat’s before visiting both colleges. “I heard that St. Pat’s had a better reputation but when I visited Marino I saw it was more personal and had a close-knit community. The students who gave me the tour of the Marino campus had a great relationship with each other and the staff, so I decided to go there instead.”
5. Don’t buy into the hype of points
Just because a course has lower points, doesn’t mean it isn’t a great course.
Aoibheann Diver, final year Journalism student said: “Some people presume that just because you do well in the Leaving Cert, you should be studying medicine or actuary or something else you need high grades for.
"I got 565 points in my Leaving Cert, even though the course I chose was 435 points. Several people asked me why I didn't go for a course with higher points. But it's not just about what you're capable of doing, you have to choose a course you genuinely want to do. It's just a waste of time and money if you pick something you probably won't like studying.”
6. Remember the direct route, isn’t the only route
If you don’t get enough points to go straight into your chosen career, don’t worry. Put down a mix of levels and entry points into your ideal course. There are usually many different ways to get to your ideal job.
7. Keep up to date with deadlines
The change of mind deadline is the 1st July for the CAO choices .The SUSI online student grant application system for 2016/2017 is open on susi.ie,.