As the end of June approaches, the summer appears to stretch out endlessly before all students, whether they are primary or secondary school students who will return to school in early September, or Leaving Certificate candidates who will be moving on to further or higher education.
Of course, thousands of students will spend part of their holidays attending Irish college, language courses in Ireland, exchange programmes abroad, art or drama camps, sports camps, or even week-long revision courses for incoming sixth-year pupils before the school year starts again.
In this last week of June, with the CAO Change of Mind closing date looming at 5.15pm on July 1, there is a little flurry of activity on the higher education institution open days front. Some third-level colleges offer prospective students a chance to visit before they make their final decision about course choices.
Waterford IT offers a "drop-in" facility to prospective students and their parents between 11am-3pm any day this week to discuss their course options.
The University of Limerick holds a Nursing & Midwifery Summer Camp today and tomorrow, which UL describes as a fun and interactive two-day camp for post-Junior Cert, transition year and fifth-year students.
NUI Maynooth hosts a University Day on Saturday on its North Campus, from 10.30am to 3.30pm, allowing any second-level students to experience a day in the life of a university student.
What happens next?
Leaving Certificate candidates will know that exam results are due to be delivered to schools and posted online on Wednesday, August 15.
CAO expects to issue Round One of college offers the following Monday, August 20, and offers will be posted on its website from 6am that day. The closing date for acceptances of Round One offers is August 27 by 5.15pm.
Round Two offers will be posted out on Wednesday August 29, and will be available online from 6am the next day. The reply date for Round Two offers is September 5.
At that stage, (late August/early September), some HEIs will contact applicants who have been offered places rather than waiting for them to reply to their offer. This is because third-level college terms start in early September in many cases, with registration and orientation programmes starting as early as the beginning of September.
Many students head off on holidays after the CAO Round One offers come out, but they should be certain that they are back in time for the start of the college term, including orientation programmes that precede the teaching term.
In UCD, Orientation Week will run this year from September 4 to 7, the week before term begins.
Orientation programmes are a great way of helping first-year students find their way around their new college.
NB: Early CAO Offers
Although the vast majority of CAO offers are not made until Round One in August, some offers for mature (including mature nursing/midwifery) and other non-standard applications will be posted on Wednesday, July 4. These offers will appear on the website from 10am the following day.
In addition, some offers for applicants who are mature, non-standard or presenting FETAC for consideration for entry to certain courses will be posted on Wednesday, August 1. These offers will appear on the website from 10am the next day.
Acceptance of these offers must be made by the dates specified on the offer.
This column comes to a close until the exam results and college offers come out in August. In the meantime, have a great summer.