What to do if you don't get that CAO offer
This had been a record-breaking year for CAO. First there was a record-breaking number of applicants, and now there has been a record-breaking number of offers.
Yesterday's headlines carried the news that points had risen for about 700 of the 1,279 courses offered through CAO.
At first glance, one might assume that would mean that more applicants faced disappointment. But notwithstanding those rises, more CAO applicants have received an offer than ever before.
A total of 48,448 applicants received an offer yesterday in round one.
More than 16,540 applicants received their first-preference offer of a Level 8 degree course in round one, and 25,500 applicants received an offer of their highest preference from their Level 6/7 list.
Two preliminary little rounds from CAO precede round one. The first, described as 'Round A', was made in early July to applicants such as those who need to make visa or other arrangements before taking a place; deferred applicants, and mature applicants; and mature nursing/midwifery code applicants.
The second, called 'Round Zero', goes out in early August to certain categories of applicant who are not awaiting current-year examination results or who are assessed on other criteria. CAO had made offers to a total of 9,385 of these non-standard applicants.
The total of all CAO applicants who have received at least one offer so far is 56,306. This represents a total of 72.53pc of all CAO's 77,628 applicants this year.
Last year, the comparable figures were a total of 54,104 individuals receiving offers at this stage, out of 74,621 applicants, or 72.5pc.
So in raw numbers and even in percentage points, this year's offer numbers were higher.
With CAO's round-one offers out, it is great when everything goes to plan, as it does for many applicants.
But there are thousands of applicants for whom things have not gone as well as they would have liked, and they, or sometimes their parents, are seeking answers.
Q My daughter has not received an offer of one of her high course preferences in this round. We are still learning how this system works.
How many places will be offered in the different courses in round two?
A No one can answer that with any certainty -- in fact there may be no second round offers on many courses. Colleges do not retain a quota of places on any course to offer in round two.
In the first round, CAO offers all the places there are to fill.
Indeed, since the aim of the colleges is to fill their places as quickly as possible, CAO and the colleges anticipate a refusal rate and make more offers in round one than the total of available places.
Further offers are only made in a second or later round if college admission officers discover that there are still some places available when all the acceptances have been returned.
These places are then offered to the next ranked applicant on the waiting list for that course, which has been drawn up with all qualified applicants to the course in order of points merit.
Many courses fill in the first round, and it is better to assume that this will be the case, rather than to hold out in the hopes of a higher preference course offer that may never arrive.
NB Vacancies are advertised today (Tuesday August 24) on CAO's website, www.cao.ie, on dozens of CAO courses. Anybody may apply for a vacant place, whether an applicant who received no offer through CAO, one who does not like the offer he or she received in round one, or indeed individuals who did not apply to CAO at all. Applicants must meet the minimum entry qualifications for a course. N.B. The NPCpp / Irish Independent Helpline, run in association with the Institute of Guidance Counsellors, continues today on 1800 265 165.