Once the CAO makes an offer, all courses lower on the applicant’s list will be removed
Going to college by Aoife Walsh
Every August I am contacted by students who don't want to accept their CAO offer and, instead, say they would prefer a place on a course they have listed lower on their list.
Even though they will argue that they have the entry requirements and points, it is not possible.
With the CAO deadline of July 1 fast approaching, it is worth recapping on a CAO golden rule.
All applicants will have heard it is important to complete their form in order of preference only.
This phrase is repeated by guidance counsellors throughout the year and appears in all CAO communications. However, every year applicants make the mistake of not filling out their lists in this way. This can have serious repercussions when offers are issued in August.
The CAO asks that all applicants complete their course lists in genuine order of preference and presumes that applicants have done this.
Therefore, it presumes that the course applicants have at the top of the list is the one they want more than any other, or, indeed that any course on the list is preferred to what appears below it.
Once the CAO receives an applicant's exam results, they will offer that person the course which they have listed highest on their CAO form, for which they have made all entry requirements and points.
If the applicant achieves the academic requirements and points, to receive an offer for the course they have listed in first place then this will be the only offer they receive.
When an applicant receives an offer, whether it is their top choice or a later one, all courses that appear lower on their preference list will be removed.
As already mentioned, this is because by completing the list in that order, the applicant has indicated that they would prefer that course to any they have listed below.
From time to time, a course an applicant has placed higher on the list than the one for which they receive an offer in Round One, will become available during Round Two. This happens if a place has been turned down by another applicant during Round One.
In this event, it is offered to the next person on the list, ie the person with the highest points and who meets all the entry requirements.
An applicant who does get such an offer in Round Two will receive it, whether or not they have accepted a place in Round One. At that stage, the student can choose to accept the Round Two offer or stay with their original Round One offer.
The only way to ensure that applicants will not be disappointed with their offer is to complete the CAO list in genuine order of preference.
Even if applicants feel they may not achieve the points for their desired course they should list it on their CAO.
It is impossible to know what the points will be in August and applicants will be disappointed if they achieve the required points and they have not listed the course.
Similarly, applicants should avoid listing their courses in order of last year's cut off points as points can change dramatically from year to year.
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin
Contact Aoife at: