CAO's 2013 Handbooks will be available shortly, and prospective applicants will soon be poring over what will be their 'bible' of college application procedures. It is all new information for them.
Guidance counsellors will be checking over the handbook to note the small or not-so-small changes that occur in this landscape from year to year.
It is vitally important to work from the most up-to-date information. Otherwise you might miss new courses, changes in course options and so on.
CAO's list has lengthened to include a couple of new participating colleges. The College of Computer Training (CCT), Dublin 2, which offers many full- and part-time courses in computer training, lists two of its courses in the Handbook.
A second new participating college is Portobello Institute in Dominick St, Dublin 1. It offers a number of full-time, part-time and distant-learning courses covering Montessori & Special Needs, Creative Studies, Beauty Therapy, Sports Therapy & Health related studies, and Business, Travel & Tourism. It offers a Montessori Education programme for application through CAO in 2013.
Existing colleges show some changes as well. NUI Maynooth, for example, offers a new code, MH901, through which applicants apply to study First Arts in NUI Maynooth's Kilkenny campus. The choice of subjects on offer is less than is available in First Arts through MH201 in the main campus.
Upon completion of first year, students will progress to second year in the main NUI Maynooth campus.
Meanwhile, the college 'open-day' cycle starts soon. Open days come on stream at the rate of four or five a week in the busiest season, around October/November.
The number of events is so extensive that schools and guidance counsellors need to have all dates of events well in advance so that they may integrate them into the timetable.
All colleges, no matter what their size or reputation, must work to attract students. They devote considerable time and energy to schools liaison programmes, through visits to schools, open days on their own campuses, information sessions for mature applicants, open days dedicated to particular faculties, and many other events.
The Qualifax website, www.qualifax.ie, is a good source of information about forthcoming open days. Follow the lead to 'career events'.
Attending open days is not a waste of time. Students should certainly attend some, at least for the couple of colleges that most interest them.