Aoife Walsh: Opportunity now to change your mind on CAO
Since the February 1 CAO deadline, most applicants have probably set aside consideration of college course choices to focus on their studies and the oral and practical exams.
But the opening of the 'change of mind' process later this week - on Friday, May 4 - will set many minds thinking again about what course of study they want to pursue in college.
The CAO 'change of mind' period remains open until July 1. Over this time, CAO applicants may make changes to the list of chosen courses already submitted.
There are some restrictions on what changes can be made. For instance, it is not possible for applicants to add restricted entry courses to their CAO at this time. Restricted entry courses are courses that require applicants to complete a requirement beyond points or subject requirements for entry. This may include an audition, a suitability test, an interview or portfolio.
However, it is possible to re-order courses, remove courses and add any courses that may not have previously appeared in their CAO choices, if they are not restricted entry.
There is no charge for applicants to make changes to their CAO during the 'change of mind' period and applicants may make as many changes as they wish during this time.
The most convenient way to make changes is to use the 'my application' section on CAO.ie. If applicants prefer, it is possible to make changes through a postal application.
When approaching the 'change of mind' process, applicants could begin by reviewing the list of preferences they submitted in January.
As a starting point, they could consider each course listed and ask themselves, would they still be happy if they received a place on each of these courses? If an applicant has a course listed for which they would not accept a place if one was offered, they should consider removing it from their choices.
Then, applicants should consider their order or preference. The CAO form should always be completed in genuine order of preference. Applicants should ask themselves this: "Out of all of the courses in which I am interested, which do I want the most?" This course should be listed in the first box. The answer to this question may have changed since January and that is ok.
Next, applicants should revisit their course research. They may have discovered more courses for which they would like to apply since the first CAO deadline in February. These courses can be added to the list and, once again, should be added in genuine order of preference.
In addition, applicants should check the college alert lists available on CAO.ie for new courses that have been released since the CAO handbook was published. These courses can also be added to the CAO application at this time.
Applicants may wish to do this for both their Level 8 preference list and Level 6/7 preference list, paying particular attention to any list they may have neglected when originally applying.
It is important to use as many of the 20 course choices (10 each at Level 8 and Level 6/7) as possible, as the CAO can only offer applicants a place on courses for which they have applied.
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin
Q I am hoping to return to college to undertake postgraduate study. I am concerned about funding as many masters and postgraduate programmes seem very expensive. Is there any funding available for this?
A It can be difficult to find funding for postgraduate study, but there are a number of options available depending on your circumstances.
For a number of years there was no possibility of State funding for postgraduate study.
Thankfully, this has now been reintroduced. Those considering postgraduate study can apply for this, means-tested support.
The minimum income threshold is based on the number of dependants in a household. Applicants with four or less dependants in the household must earn less than €31,500 to receive a fee contribution of €2,000. All applications should be made through susi.ie.
It is prudent for anyone considering applying for postgraduate study to fully research scholarship and refund scheme options. Many colleges, professional organisations and trusts offer support. One example of such funding is the Aspire scholarship programme at Smurfit Business School, UCD. This programme provides 50pc funding for MSc and MBA for 12 candidates and is one of many scholarship programmes available at the Smurfit Business School alone. Applications can be made through smurfitschool.ie. by May 11. Applicants must have received an offer for the course.