It's vitally important to work from an up-to-date prospectus
CAO's 2012 Handbooks arrive in schools around this time each autumn, and Leaving Certificate students and other prospective CAO applicants will soon be poring over what will be their 'bible' of college application procedures for the next year.
Guidance counsellors will check over the handbook to note the small, or not-so-small, changes that occur in this "landscape" from year to year.
College prospectuses for 2012 also arrive in schools during this period.
It is always vitally important for applicants to work from the most up-to-date information.
Let's draw the attention of applicants to two aspects of college selection procedures that are highlighted this year.
First off, for college entry in 2012, (as this column has explained a number of times), the CAO points scale has been adjusted for higher level maths scores for all courses in all colleges. A flat rate of 25 bonus points will be added to the standard score for any Higher Level maths grade from an A1 to a D3, providing that the candidate is presenting HL maths as one of their six best scores for points purposes. Page 20 of the CAO handbook illustrates the change.
The maths bonus points will apply retrospectively -- in other words, if you sat the Leaving Certificate in 2011, and are applying to college in 2012, the bonus points will be added to your 2011 LC higher level maths score.
Secondly, some college applicants will apply to college through CAO, but will also use the HEAR or DARE entry schemes.
HEAR (the Higher Education Access Route) is a third-level admissions scheme for school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) is a development of the supplementary admissions scheme for school leavers with disabilities.
CAO application figures for this year, 2011, showed that 2,602 applicants used the DARE application scheme while 8,370 applicants used the HEAR scheme.
HEAR and DARE applicants for 2012 are reminded that if an applicant was deemed eligible for the either of these application route in 2011, then that eligibility can be carried forward to their application for entry to college in 2012. They will be required to enter their 2011 CAO application number in the box provided, and to complete all the relevant sections of the 2012 HEAR and DARE application forms, but they will not need to supply supporting documentation as part of their application.
However, if they are offered a place through HEAR or DARE in 2012, they will be required to provide the original documentation, copies of which accompanied their 2011 application. Further information is at www.accesscollege.ie, and the CAO Handbook deals with them on page 8.
It is worthwhile to contact the Access Officer in any college applied to.
Meanwhile, the cycle of college open days for prospective applicants gets into swing as the autumn term advances.
In the forthcoming week, open days will take place in several agricultural and horticultural colleges; l Today in the College of Amenity Horticulture, National Botanic Gardens, Dublin 11; l Tomorrow, Gurteen Agricultural College, Roscrea, Co Tipperary; l Friday October 7, open days in both Ballyhaise College, Co Cavan, and Kildalton College, Co Kilkenny; l October 11, Mountbellew Agricultural College, Co Galway (Further details on www.teagasc.ie ) l October 7, Galway-Mayo IT -- Castlebar holds an open day from 10.00 to 13.00, for Leaving Cert students and guidance counsellors. Booking is necessary. l Saturday next, October 8, UCC hosts its October Open Day. All welcome. No booking is required.