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Going to College: Missing the February 1 CAO deadline can have serious repercussions for your college application


Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

There are two weeks left to the most important deadline of the CAO - February 1. Applicants must complete a number of essential tasks by this date. If any of these task are missed, it can have serious repercussions for the application and potentially the individual's future.


February 1 is the standard deadline for registering with the CAO. The CAO does however offer a discounted rate (€30)for students who register before January 20.

Once an applicant has paid the fee, they will receive their CAO number. They can then continue to work on their application until February 1 .

Anyone who registers for the first time after February 1 will be considered a late applicant and will be restricted in the range of courses for which they can apply. Therefore all applicants should register with the CAO before 5.15pm on February 1.

Mature Students

As mature students are judged on criteria other than points and Leaving Cert grades, they must ensure that the CAO application is as close to perfect as possible by the February 1 deadline. Mature applicants are likely to be required to participate in testing or interviews to achieve a place at third level. Therefore, many institutions will not take applications for courses after this date. While mature students can reorder their preferences during the 'change of mind' period, they will find there are few courses that can be added at that time. Some colleges require mature applicants to submit an extra application to the admissions office - if this is required it must also be submitted by February 1.

Restricted Entry Courses

Restricted entry courses require applicants to complete some element of assessment, other than points, to gain entry. This may be a portfolio, audition, test or interview. These courses are often in the fields of art, music or drama but also include medicine, some architecture courses and others. These courses are clearly marked in the CAO handbook. They must be listed on the CAO by February 1 so colleges can make arrangements for applicants to participate in these assessments. Restricted entry courses can be rearranged and removed from the applicant's preference list during the change-of-mind period. They may not be added at that time.


Applicants considering either or both of these programmes must indicate their intention to apply on the CAO form no later than February 1. This is done simply by scrolling to the appropriate section on their account homepage and ticking a box. Applicants will then access the online form related to the appropriate programme. This section must be completed by March 1. Because of the nature of these programmes, the deadlines set out for HEAR and DARE are extremely strict and must not be missed.

If applicants have questions about their application, they should make an appointment with their guidance counsellor as soon as possible.

Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin

Irish Independent