Let your out-of-class achievements count towards a college scholarship
All over the country there are tens of thousands of young people quietly preparing for the Leaving Certificate and entry to third level. Many of them maintain a great deal of commitment to other pursuits, and many also manage to excel at academics.
Most often they do this quietly, without spectacle and, unlike college entry systems in other countries, the CAO process is not well equipped to recognise such achievements. However, this does not mean that skills in a variety of areas are not valued by institutions. As a result, there are numerous scholarship programmes and awards in place.
In some cases, scholarships, whether for academic, sporting or outstanding performance in another field, are awarded, either automatically, or on the basis of competition, after the student enrols.
In others, students must apply in advance. One such case is NUI Galway's CAO 'Performance Points' scheme for the creative arts.
Students who excel in the area of performing arts, such as creative writing, digital arts and media, theatre and drama, film, and non-fictional writing such as journalism, may apply to NUIG for a waiver of 40 CAO points for entry to all courses at NUIG, with the exception of medicine.
As well as the potential for a reduction of up to 40 points in what is otherwise required, successful applicants will receive a mentor to help develop their creative interest.
To be considered, applicants must achieve at least 350 points in their Leaving Cert, as well as the minimum entry requirements for their intended course of study.
Interested applicants should apply to ww.nuigalway.ie/creativeartsperformace points/ no later than Saturday, February 14.
Similar to other scholarship schemes, UCD's Ad Astra Academy aims not only to attract talented young people to the institution but to build and support their talents.
Awards are available in the areas of sport, performing arts and academic achievement. Recipients of academic awards are provided academic mentors who offer guidance, as well as opportunities to attend workshops and seminars designed to develop and prepare young academics to excel in their careers. Similarly, performing arts and sports scholars are provided with support to achieve their best in their chosen pursuit as well as their academic pursuits. Support for athletes include, a high-performance gym, a human performance laboratory, as well as physical therapy and medical support for injury. Performing art scholars are given opportunities to develop their artistic talents, even if they are not pursuing studies in these areas.
Since the introduction of the Ad Astra Academic Scholars Scheme, scholarships were automatically awarded to CAO applicants who achieved 6 higher A1s in their Leaving Certificate.
In a significant change this year, CAO applicants have to apply in advance for consideration for the academic scholarship.
Successful candidates will continue to need 6 higher A1s in the first sitting of the Leaving Cert. They must also make a formal application online and will be required to submit a personal statement and a statement of achievement 'beyond the classroom', such as participation in a national competition, or evidence of active citizenship, volunteering, innovation or leaderships
While application to the performing arts and sport scholarships are now closed, interested students may continue to apply for the academic scholarships until July 1, through www.ucd.ie/adastraacademy/.
There are more awards and scholarship programme available in institutions all over the country. CAO applicants should contact their colleges of interest to familiarise themselves with the opportunities and application processes.
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin
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