Q I'm not sure if I'm on the right track with my CAO application and careers research. What should I have done by now?
A Now that Christmas is fast approaching and we have been back at school for more than three months, students are likely to have made some progress on their career exploration and planning. While it is possible to open a CAO application right up to February 1, early application is advisable.
At this point, students should be attending the open days of the colleges for which they wish to apply, reading courses regularly, and gathering information on as many courses as possible. It is better to have too many than too few at this stage and the next step is to decide what the order will be. This should always be in your order of preference.
Students should also pay particular attention to any restricted entry courses they would like to apply for as it is not possible to apply for these during the 'change of mind' process.
Q How can I make best use of the Christmas break to get on top of my school work?
A No doubt all over the country teachers are loading on the work in an attempt to ensure that the courses are finished as early as possible. In addition to this, students may be working hard on projects and briefs.
Some students may be getting work weary, while others are wondering where the year has gone.
However, the Christmas holidays are an excellent opportunity for everyone and should not be missed.
It is difficult for anyone to spend all day at school and then go home and write large assignments, such as essays. The Christmas holidays are a great opportunity to catch up on some of this work. It is also important to keep a good routine and have balance. Try getting school work done as early as possible in the day. This way you can get in a good couple of hours' study and still have the rest of the day for relaxing and family time.
It may also be a good idea to come up with a plan of what you want to achieve over the two weeks. There are two ways you can do this.
Firstly, if you find that you are easily distracted, perhaps give yourself a number of tasks to achieve rather than focus on the time you wish to spend on study.
Secondly, students may like to work along with their school timetable. So if you have English first thing on a Monday morning in school, then the first subject to tackle on the Monday of the Christmas holidays is also English, and so on. This is a great way of making sure you give each subject due care and attention.
It doesn't really matter which approach is chosen, it is more important that students discover what works for them. This can be a process of trial and error so get started and take advantage of the early start to the holidays this year. After all, CAO, mocks and oral will be upon us early in the new year.
IMPORTANT DATES THIS WEEK: DECEMBER 11: BALLYFERMOT COLLEGE OF FURTHER EDUCATION WEBSITE OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS FOR 2014/15 UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK RETURN TO LEARNING INFORMATION EVENING FOR ADULT LEARNERS AND MATURE STUDENTS DECEMBER 12: NUI GALWAY INFORMATION EVENING -- ATHLONE
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin