The biggest task this week for 6th year students and schools is the completion of the final step in the HEAR and DARE application process.
The deadline for completion of applications for both of these programmes is two weeks earlier than previous years because of the ongoing increase in demand, particularly in recent years.
Applicants must have all supporting documentation submitted to the CAO by March 15.
It can take some time to collect this documentation and it can take some time for teachers and other professionals to complete the large number of forms they receive. However, most students will have been engaged in this process for the past number of weeks or even months.
DARE applicants will have noticed that Section B and Section C of the application should be printed off from online.
Section B is the Educational Impact Statement and provides an opportunity to outline the impact of the disability or health condition on the student's academic performance and ability to participate in school life.
This should be completed by the school in conjunction with the young person themselves.
The second form, or Section C: Evidence of Disability, is completed by the relevant health professional and describes this student's condition and symptoms of that condition.
The student already had the opportunity to outline how their condition affects them when they completed the online form as part of their original CAO application. This online section should have been completed by March 1.
Applicants to the HEAR scheme should have received a personalised list of required documentation needed to support their application. Hopefully, students have been diligently working on collecting those documents as they can take some time to gather.
As HEAR is a programme to support educational disadvantage, these documents are often related to family income and social welfare payments. These documents should relate to the financial year of 2019.
Given that both of these schemes offer applicants the opportunity to enter third level on reduced points, all deadlines are extremely strict and appeals will only be heard in limited and specific circumstances.
Any HEAR or DARE applicant who does not have all their documents collected and sent off should prioritise this today, with the goal of putting them in registered post tomorrow.
It is important for young people to remember that HEAR and DARE relate to reduced points access only and support is available at third level even if an application is not successful.
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin