Friday 24 November 2017

Tips for mature students and HPAT applicants

Going to college...

Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh
Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh

Aoife Walsh

Returning to education is a daunting and difficult decision for many. This week, in particular, is a critical week for mature students who are hoping to apply for a college place, via the CAO, in 2017.

In the coming days and weeks, before the all-important February 1 deadline, a large number of colleges will hold their final open evenings and mature student information sessions.

The February 1 deadline is important for all applicants, but even more so for mature applicants. While other applicants have the opportunity to add additional courses to their CAO list during the 'Change of Mind' process, which takes place from May 5 to July 1, mature students are much more restricted at that time. Most courses may not be added to a mature student's application during the Change of Mind period as interviews and testing (additional elements in the application process for mature students) are likely to have taken place. Additionally, very few colleges will consider late applications from mature applicants for the same reason.

Given these restrictions, there is a little more pressure on mature students to make correct choices the first time around. Therefore, mature students must be much more certain in their choices by February 1. With this in mind, attending any upcoming events is extremely important. Open days/evenings allow prospective students to get a feel for the college, meet lecturers, ask detailed questions and allay any fears they may have.

Like all CAO applicants, mature applicants should take some time to research fully all courses in which they are interested, and consider courses in similar areas. This can be done online through, or, before attending an open evening or information session. By doing as much research as possible in advance, applicants can gain maximum benefit from their time at such events..

HPAT Those who are considering applying for undergraduate medicine in 2017 should be aware that the closing date to register for the HPAT is this Friday, January 20 at 5.15pm.

The HPAT is an additional test that all applicants to undergraduate medicine in Ireland must take. Applicants must first register for the CAO as they will need to have their CAO number to proceed with their HPAT registration. It is not necessary to enter any courses on the CAO form to do this, but applicants must create an account and pay their fee.

As Medicine is considered a restricted entry course, all courses should be listed on an applicant's CAO form before the February 1 deadline. It is possible to remove these courses during the Change of Mind process. Therefore, if applicants are not sure for which medicine courses they wish to apply, it may be prudent to list all options by February 1, with the knowledge that they can be removed later if needed.

Once an applicant has been issued with a CAO number, they can download an information booklet and create an online account at the website, The test will take place on February 25. The fee to sit the HPAT is €130 and test centres are located in Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Cork, Sligo and Waterford. Applicants will be asked to select their preferred test centre and this can be changed until February 1.

Results will be released in June most likely after the Leaving Cert exams have been completed.

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

Q. I am a primary school teacher with a BComm and I am hoping to retrain as an educational psychologist. I want to continue working, so I am just wondering is there a part-time conversion course in psychology available?

A. Unfortunately, most conversion courses are full-time, however, there are some options including a Higher Diploma in Psychology (part-time) through Dublin Business School. This course is run from Dublin city centre locations, two to three nights a week, depending on the term. It will result in you meeting the criteria for graduate entry to the Psychological Society of Ireland which you must have in order to enter most masters and doctorates in psychology, including educational psychology.

Important dates


Open Day - Blackrock College of FE

Open Evening - Dublin Business School

CAO Info Evening - DCU

Open Day - Griffith College

Open Evening - IT Tallaght

Open Evening - ICHAS (Limerick & Dublin)

Open Evening (Matures) - NUI Galway

HEAR & DARE Clinic The Rose Hotel Tralee; Ferrycarrig Hotel, Wexford

Engineering Open Evening - UCD


Open Night - Dunboyne College of FE n Portfolio Day - Limerick IT


Open Day - Bray Institute of FE

Discounted Application Deadline - CAO

Registration deadline - HPAT Ireland

Open Day - Waterford College of FE

Open Day - Waterford IT


CAO/mature student talks - GMIT

HEAR & DARE Clinics - UCC, Villa Rosa Hotel Ballybofey, DIT Aungier St, NUI Galway; Maynooth University (Maynooth and Kilkenny); UL; Athlone IT, Glencarn Hotel Castleblaney, IT Sligo

Open Day - NCI

Architecture, Landscape, Planning Open Day - UCD

Open Day - Waterford IT

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News