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Now that CAO is out of the way, think PLC


Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Now that the main CAO deadline has passed, all students should turn their attention to Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) course options, if they have not already done so.

Students who have their sights firmly set on prestigious third-level courses often overlook the benefits and opportunities that PLCs present. As a result, they do not fully investigate the PLC/further education sector and may miss a chance to access their dream course.

A large number of Level 8 (honours degree) courses consider applicants who apply to the CAO with qualifications earned in further education courses. If students have their hearts set on a certain course but are unsure if they will achieve the necessary points, they should also consider using the PLC route to gain access, as an alternative to taking a lower preference from their CAO list.

While entry is competitive, I encourage all my students to make PLC applications. Many courses require students to graduate from particular PLC courses but there are about 700 courses listed on the CAO that will consider applications from students who hold any PLC qualification.

An expo, yesterday, by the 18 colleges of further education covered by City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB) is an example of what's on offer in the sector - from science, sport, motor mechanics, dog grooming, business, healthcare, catering to dance and drama, rock school and animation.

In order to check if a desired course has a PLC entry route, those interested should log on to the CAO website, and check the Student Resources/FETAC information section, where they can enter the code of a preferred CAO course. The website will let students know if there is a PLC access route and, if so, which courses and subjects will be accepted.

It is more helpful to search by course code than key word or title. This is because many courses have similar sounding names but a course code is unique. The PLC progression routes section of careersportal.ie website is also very helpful.

Here are some examples of honours degree courses and the places reserved on them for PLC applicants: General science in UCD had a minimum points cut off of 515 last year. Each year it reserves 30 places for students entering with PLC qualifications. It will accept applicants from 5M3807 Laboratory Techniques and 5M2768 Animal Care. University College Cork offers entry routes to Business & Law via a long list of PLC courses. Last year, this course required Leaving Cert students to achieve 530 points.Maynooth University will accept three applicants for MH305 Product Design.

Many PLC colleges are currently accepting applicants and holding interviews. Often there are no deadlines for these courses, however, popular courses fill quickly.

Students apply directly to each college in which they are interested. The application forms are generally short, straightforward and require mostly factual information. It costs nothing to apply. Once the application has been received, the college will invite the applicant for interview.

Minimum academic qualifications for these courses are normally five passes at Leaving Cert, with some requiring specific subjects, such as maths. PLC courses will also accept students with Leaving Cert Applied qualifications. However, as entry to these courses is competitive, students should always try and present the best results they can.

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

Important dates

February 10

Portfolio Submissions Deadline -National College of Art & Design

February 11

Late registration closes - GAMSAT

Q. I am a Leaving Cert student and I am interested in taking an apprenticeship next year. I hear that the ESB has a really good programme. What do I need to apply and when does it begin recruiting?

A. The ESB plans to recruit 300 apprentices between 2015 and 2020. It is currently taking expressions of interest for electrical and HGV apprentices. Interested applicants can submit their details to esbnetworks.ie/careers and they will be sent an invitation to apply.

Candidates will be recruited during March/April 2017 for positions beginning in September. Applicants should be 16 years old by June 1 of the year of application, and should present Junior Cert or Leaving Cert qualifications.

Mercury Engineering is recruiting apprentice plumbers for Cork and Limerick. Applicants should be at least 17 and hold at least five passes at Leaving Cert or equivalent, a pass in Junior Cert maths, an Ishihara eye test and Safe Pass manual handling completed. CV should be submitted by February 17. More information can be found at mercuryeng.com/ie/careers/application/.

There are currently 22 companies recruiting apprentices for various disciplines on apprentices.ie.

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