STUDENTS should focus on course preferences rather than on points as they fill out their CAO applications.
As the January 20 deadline for discounted online applications approaches, Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), said: "Students should choose college courses that best suit their skills and interests, rather than opting for high-points programmes to impress family and peers and even those courses that offer the most direct route to today's jobs market.
"In three or four years' time, the jobs market could be very different so, unless students are especially interested in specialist courses like architecture or dentistry, choosing a more generalist programme – humanities or science, for example – can keep students' options open at this stage.''
Mr Byrne said many pupils made the error of basing their choices on last year's points and, as a result, were not offered the course they wanted.
The fee for an online CAO application is €40. Students who apply before January 20 will pay a discounted fee of €25. Students have until February 1 to apply.