Sunday 22 September 2019

Going to college: Now the end of the exams is in sight, it’s time to have another look at the CAO form

Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh
Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Aoife Walsh

We are now one week into the Leaving Cert and students have sat the majority of their exams. As the end of the week approaches, many will finish and will be ready to enjoy a well deserved rest.

However, before we pack away our books and head off on holiday, there is one more important task to complete.

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.

July 1 is the very last deadline for applicants to make any changes to their CAO preferences. Usually, about half of applicants introduce some change.

Applicants are free to add or remove courses for which they would like to be considered. They may also change their order of preference by moving courses to higher or lower positions on their Level 8 and Level 7/6 lists. Now that the exams are nearly over, applicants may find they have a little bit more time and space to consider these choices and to make decisions without Leaving Cert stress.

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 in August based on these choices. 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 in these decisions.

The CAO list should still contain your dream course at number one, even if you feel you are unlikely to achieve the exam results to gain entry. The first couple of slots should be reserved for the courses you want more than any other. The middle section of the list may be used for courses that are more realistic, and will assist you in reaching your career goals. Finally, leave a couple of spaces for banker courses, i.e. those courses that you know you will gain access to even if the exams do not go your way.

This is an excellent time to review all the courses that are currently listed to ensure that you will still be happy if you received an offer for any of them.

It is also essential to review the CAO alert lists to see if any of the courses listed have been cancelled. Now is the opportunity to remove these courses from the list and use these spaces for others. Also, review the alert lists for courses that have been recently released by colleges. These courses will be available for application but were not finalised in time to make it into the CAO handbook.

Finally, applicants should ensure they use up as many places as possible on their CAO lists and be careful to complete the form based only on which courses they would like to be considered for, and not how they believe they performed in the exams or what they think the points may be.

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

Irish Independent

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