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Going to College: More resources to assist parents in navigating the CAO and other options



Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Last week, this column explored some resources that might be helpful for parents who feel at a loss when trying to support their young person as they prepare for the transition to study and a career post-Leaving Cert.

There was simply not enough space to explore them all, so as this is the last week of school before the CAO opens, and with no column next week because of the mid-term break, I wish to outline my other go-to resources.

Hopefully, this will help parents to be empowered in the CAO process when it opens on November 5, and assist them in the weeks and months ahead.

CAO parents' guide

When looking for information for parents on the CAO process, why go anywhere other than the CAO website itself. Cao.ie has a whole section dedicated to supporting parents through this process. This includes a PDF guide, videos explaining everything from how to apply and how the offers process works, to how to choose an offer, as well as the Leaving Cert recheck process.

There is a wealth of easily understood information in this section. Spending some time exploring the CAO parents' area will, without doubt, leave any parent feeling well equipped to begin the sometimes challenging conversation on research and choosing a course, as well as more than able to answer any questions that may crop up about deadlines and process.

CAO alerts list

I am not sure that every CAO applicant is aware of these lists, never mind their parents. They are, however, essential reading for anyone who wants to ensure they submit a well-informed CAO application. These lists are published annually by all colleges and are often updated throughout the CAO season.

They will outline any changes in their offerings for this year, as well as any updates on courses that were not available at the time the CAO handbook and college prospectus were published. These include courses that may appear in the CAO handbook but have been cancelled, as well as courses that will be offered for the first time this year and may not be in the publications. They will also include notifications of any changes to entry requirements, so they are definitely worth checking out regularly between now and the end of the academic year.

Careersportal.ie parents' guide

The careersportal.ie website has a detailed guide containing everything any parent might need to know about post-Leaving Certificate options, as well as understanding what students need to achieve in the Leaving Cert in the first place. It is an extremely holistic guide, which considers the emotional impact of this period on the student and places all the advice in the context of child development and career theory, as well as the technicalities which need to be navigated.

It also explores a wide variety of options such as apprenticeships.

Careersportal.ie self assessment section

When a young person beginning the CAO process doesn't know where to start and is having difficulties generating ideas to kick-start research, this is a great tool to get them going.

If the young person is using the REACH career and college preparation programme in school, they have access to a variety of testing through their account. If not, students and parents should know they can still access careers' interest, personality, values and skills tests by creating an account on the careersportal.ie website.

The results of these tests link to all the research tools and videos available on this site.

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

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