Make full use of CAO to keep options open
Q I have not applied for any PLC courses. Many of my friends applied in January and have now received offers. Is it too late to apply?
A There are many further education colleges around the country that offer a wide variety of courses mostly at FETAC level 5 and 6.
While they have been accepting applications and interviewing since January, they will continue to accept applications until all courses and waiting lists are filled. So it is not too late to apply.
Many places become available once students receive their CAO offers so don't worry if you are placed on a waiting list, you still have a good chance of being accepted.
PLC Colleges offer qualifications in their own right but can also be used to gain access to institutes of technology and universities.
While some university and IT courses require a specific course or subject, there are at present 670 courses at level 6 7 and 8 that will accept any FETAC level 5.
You should apply to each further education college directly. This can be done by paper application or through the college's online application system. Remember that they these applications are completely separate from your CAO.
Q I have not applied for any Level 6 or Level 7 course because I would prefer to do a Level 8. I also cannot find any course in my specific area of interest.
A While many students would prefer to study a Level 8 course, there are still very important benefits to apply for Level 6 and 7 courses. Your application to Level 6 and 7 is completely separate from your Level 8 applications so it will not interfere with Level 8 offers.
The CAO will offer you the highest course on each list for which you have qualified. As a result, hopefully you will get an offer for two courses. This means that by applying for Level 6 and 7 you are not risking your Level 8 preference, you are simply giving yourself more options.
You may well be having trouble finding a Level 6 or 7 course in your area. Some career areas are better catered for than others and, for example, you will have no trouble finding courses in the area of business but there are far fewer options in science or health. Courses at this level also tend to be more general.
There is no harm in taking a general degree as courses often allow you to specialise as you progress and it is always possible to specialise in a short amount of time by taking a one or two-year postgraduate course.
I would recommend for these reasons that you make full use of your CAO by applying for as many courses as possible.
Remember the CAO cannot offer you something you have not applied for and while you may prefer to do a Level 8, you may be glad of these offers in August. As always apply in order of preference only.
Dates for the diary June 26: WIT Drop-in week (3 Days) June 27: DCU June information day Pulse College Open day UCAS reply date to offers received by June 7 June 29:NUI Maynooth University Day June 30: UCAS Late Applications Deadline July 1: CAO Close of Change of Mind August 1: Last day for grant applications to SUSI Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin