Katherine Donnelly: 'Decisions, decisions.....'
With only weeks remaining until the main deadline for registration with the CAO for 2019, prospective college students are teasing out their choices. The majority are sixth years, but there are also thousands of others who left school a year or two ago, as well as more mature applicants, aged 23 or over, who prove that it is never too late to embark on new learning.
It is an exciting juncture in life's educational journey. The extensive selection of higher education courses means there is something for everyone, although it can take time for an individual to whittle down the 'maybe' choices and find the one most suitable.
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There will be some school-leavers who haven't a clue what to do and they, like all CAO applicants, should heed the advice of guidance counsellors to study what they will enjoy.
There is no need for panic. Applicants have an opportunity, between May and July, to change their mind about course choices.
For a full list of 2019 CAO courses, click here
To assist in the search, this supplement contains a unique listing of all CAO courses broken down by discipline, which allows an at-a-glance guide to all the choices in any particular field. There is also plenty of information and advice as well as interesting stories about how some current students made their decisions.
While much of the focus now is on the CAO, sight should not be lost of the many other opportunities to pursue further study, leading to a fulfilling career path. For instance, post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses are available in colleges of further education all over the country, and can lead to direct employment or act as a stepping stone to college a year or two down the road, with no worries about points.
There are also increasing numbers of earn-as-you-learn apprenticeships and shorter-duration, traineeships. Apprenticeships are no longer confined to traditional craft trades, such as in the construction and motor industries, and can be found in areas including insurance, logistics and accounting technician, with many offering qualifications at degree level.
The possibilities are endless and the choice is yours.