Life Learning

Friday 19 September 2014

Spread your options in 2013

Mary O'Donnell

Published 07/01/2013 | 05:00

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This chart is unique in that it gathers strands of information that are nowhere else available in one place. It consists of the courses in the CAO 2013 Handbook, with their final cut-off points and the mid-points for 2012, where applicable. Some courses are new and appear in the Handbook for the first time this year, so no points are available.

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The chart also includes the updated information from the CAO Important Changes list, which came too late for publication in the Handbook. The chart, therefore, includes any course for which application may be made in 2013, even though it does not appear in the 2013 Handbook.

The chart excludes about 18 courses that appear in the 2013 Handbook, but which have subsequently been withdrawn by the colleges.

The Important Changes list can be seen on the CAO website. Changes can occur on this list right up to July.

Deliberate Method

Our CAO courses chart is organised in a very deliberate manner. Instead of listing courses by institution, it lists them in categories, for example all the Level 8 (honours degree) and Level 7/6 (ordinary degree or higher certificate) courses in the Arts/Humanities area, the Business studies/Commerce area, the Engineering area, the Sciences and so forth, in all the colleges.

Because applicants may list 10 choices in order of genuine preference on both the Level 8 list and the Level 7/6 list, students may spread their options across the application form, working from their highest preference course, regardless of its points last year, to some less competitive courses lower down the list as safety nets.

Research, Research, Research

Applicants should research their choices thoroughly, using the current CAO course listings and the colleges' own literature and websites when making course choices.

They should follow the advice of CAO: choose courses in order of genuine preference. Do not base your choices on projected exam results or on last year's points.

Many applicants approach the task in the wrong manner. Some are so fixed on the idea of going to a particular college that they will consider doing any course they can to get into that college, rather than applying to a course that they might enjoy more elsewhere. These applicants will go down the list of courses in a particular college, listing 10 courses in that one institution. The courses are often unrelated to each other in content, or unrelated to the applicants' real areas of interest.

But it can be difficult to persuade them to look at some course of real interest to them in what they might consider to be a less glamorous college.

Other applicants will look only at courses within a certain points band. A student might anticipate getting 350 points. He or she will scour the lists of last year's cut-off points, picking courses that "cost" 350 points or thereabouts, almost regardless of the content of the course. It is not surprising that many students end up on courses that they do not enjoy.

Irish Independent Supplement

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