Going to College: Students to take final step in HEAR and DARE applications as deadline approaches
The biggest task of this week for sixth year students and schools is the completion of the final step in the HEAR and DARE application process
This year has seen a big increase in the number of CAO applicants seeking to be considered for entry to college using one or both of these routes.
According to figures released earlier this month, there were 6,976 applicants for the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) - an increase of 6.2pc on last year, while 11,238 applicants indicated they wish to be considered for the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) - an increase of 7.4pc from 2018.
These increases are quite significant when compared with the overall 0.5pc increase in CAO applications.
The final deadline for submission of all supporting documentation for application for both of these programmes is April 1. It can take some time to collect this documentation, although most students will have been engaged in this process for the past number of weeks, or even months.
When filling out the online CAO form, DARE applicants will have noticed that Section B and Section C of the application should have been printed off.
Section B is the Educational Impact Statement and is to be completed by the school. This 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. It 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 the student's condition and symptoms of that condition.
Students themselves had the opportunity to outline how their condition affects them when they completed the online form as part of their CAO application. This online section should have been completed by March 1.
Applicants to the HEAR scheme will have received a personalised list of required documentation when they completed the online section of the application before March 1.
Hopefully, they have been diligently working on collecting those documents since that date as, again, they can take some time to gather.
As HEAR is a programme to support students suffering educational disadvantage, these documents are often related to family income and social welfare payments. Information provided on these documents should relate to the financial year of 2018.
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.
If a student applying for either of these schemes does not have all their documents collected and sent off, they should prioritise this today, with the goal of putting them in registered post tomorrow.
It is important for young people to remember that support is available at third level even if this application is not successful.
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin