Aoife Walsh: 'With an end to the exams in sight, it's time to check that CAO list'
Now that many Leaving Cert candidates are seeing an end of the exams, CAO applicants may find that they have a little more time and space to consider their course choices and make final decisions.
The CAO Change of Mind period remains open until July 1 and it is very important that every applicant takes one final look at their choices before the opportunity to change their lists is gone forever.
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The July 1 deadline is the last one for applicants to make any changes to their course preference lists.
During this period, applicants are free to add or remove courses for which they would like to be considered. They may also change their order of preference, moving courses to higher or lower positions on both, or either of, their Level 8 and Level 6/7 lists.
Whatever is listed on the CAO form at the end of the change of mind period (5:15pm on July 1) will be an applicant's final choice and the CAO will make offers based on this choice in August.
Applicants may log in and out as many times as they wish before this deadline and make as many changes as they wish. However, all changes should be well considered and many colleges will hold open days in the coming days and weeks to assist CAO applicants in their decision-making.
The CAO form should have the applicant's dream course at number 1 on the preference lists even if they feel they are unlikely to achieve the exam results to gain entry. The first couple of slots should be reserved for the courses they want more than any other.
The middle section of the lists may be used for courses which are more realistic but will assist students in reaching their career goals. Finally, applicants should leave a couple of spaces for banker courses, i.e. those courses that they know they will gain access to even if the exams do not go their way.
Applicants who sat the HPAT back in February and are hoping to receive an offer for medicine will receive those results soon after the Leaving Cert finishes. At that point, it may be clear to some candidates that they will not receive an offer for medicine, irrespective of what they achieve in their Leaving Cert. These candidates may now need to consider making changes to their CAO application and add other options.
If disappointed, there are a number of things that can be done at this stage. Don't panic. Even if an offer seems unlikely, nobody knows exactly what the cut-offs for medicine will be in August. If there is any possibility of receiving an offer, no matter how unlikely, applicants should consider leaving at least a couple of medicine courses their CAO list. It would be very hard on any student to have missed out on an offer because they removed all medicine courses from their CAO application. Points may fall and candidates often do better in their Leaving Cert than they had expected.
Those interested in medicine should also consider other courses of study they would enjoy and that would assist them in building a career, if medicine does not work out in the future.
There is also the option of studying medicine as a post-graduate student, the preferred entry route for many aspiring doctors.
Colleges offering post-graduate entry to medicine will accept a 2:1 from a degree in any discipline. Research indicates that graduate medicine students who come from arts backgrounds perform just as well in their studies as their classmates with science or engineering backgrounds.
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin