After an emotional results day, it's time to wait for offers
Yesterday was a day of many emotions for the 57,532 candidates who received results of their Leaving Certificate or their Leaving Certificate Applied examinations.
For some high achievers, their results were beyond most people's wildest dreams. For many more candidates, there were moments of quiet satisfaction as they relished a particularly good grade in a subject or two they loved and worked hard at.
For others, it may have been a day of bitter disappointment, as they failed to make the grades they had hoped for.
No matter how much consolation one tries to offer, it is hard for them to bear it philosophically just now. It is important for family and friends to give them the space and support they deserve at this time.
A listening ear
The Irish Independent National Parents Council PP/Institute of Guidance Counsellors Helpline reports that calls from students and parents came at a busy rate throughout the day yesterday.
In many cases, callers seemed just to want to talk to somebody who might help them calculate their points, explain to them what their chances were of getting a particular course, or go through their options if it looked like they might not make their original preference.
The helpline continues today on 1800 265 165.
As the dust settles after the results, most Leaving Certificate/CAO applicants are now entering a limbo stage, having to wait until 6am next Monday to log on to the CAO website to check what the points are for their preferred courses, and what offers they have.
Why won't the colleges say in advance what the points will be?
Nobody, not even the colleges, can predict for certain what the cut-off points for any particular course will be until the allocations for college places are worked through. College admissions officers are working at that even as we speak.
Most people understand how college places are allocated through CAO, but just in case there is any newcomer out there who does not fully understand, it happens as follows.
Minimum entry requirements
Applicants' results are checked to make sure that they have satisfied the minimum entry or specific Leaving Cert subject requirements for each course they have applied for.
If they fail to meet these minimum or specific requirements, they are removed from the list of applicants for the course in question.
Points -- the final selection procedure
If they satisfy the minimum requirements, applicants' results are converted into points to rank them in order, for each course they have applied for. If there are 100 places on a course and 300 applicants to that course, the top 100 applicants on the list get offers.
Applicants below the 100th applicant are left on the waiting list, in cases places should become available later on.
The points scored by the hundredth applicant become the cut-off points for the course in question. If no more offers are made, they remain the cut-off point for that course.
If further offers are necessary, the new cut-off points will be those of the last person receiving an offer.
Points not set in advance
Colleges will state the minimum entry requirements for a course in their prospectus, usually followed by the previous year's points as a guide to the standard achieved.
However, they cannot tell what the points for any particular course will be until they allocate the number of places available for each course to the applicants, who are ranked in order on the basis of the results just obtained.
A final reminder to family, friends and neighbours: The Leaving Cert exam is the culmination of a student's whole educational experience.
Do not reduce the results of this exam to a number.
Never, ever ask a student what points they got. It is nobody's business but their own.