More than 75pc accept first offer as second round goes in the post
At the close of round one at 5.15pm on Monday last, the CAO reported that it had received a total of 37,171 acceptances in that round. This represents around 75.23pc of the 49,408 applicants who received an offer in round one. (Last year, the comparable round one figures were 36,392 acceptances (or 75.11pc) from 48,448 applicants who received an offer.)
Later today, CAO will post out round two offers to arrive tomorrow. Round two cut-off points will be published at 6am tomorrow morning on CAO's website. The reply date for round two is 5.30pm on September 7.
So what happens next for students who have accepted their offer? Students are contacted by the college rather than by the CAO. In many cases, they have already been contacted. Colleges vary; in some cases, students are sent information and registration packs as soon as they accepted their offer.
UCD, the biggest college in the country, accounts for more than 10pc of all first-year places, with about 4,000 students starting on undergraduate programmes each year. It started its registration process online last Thursday.
Incoming undergraduate students are permitted to complete part one of their online registration within three working days of accepting their offer.
Not every college uses online registration, but most students go online to check out the college where they will be studying. The websites of all 43 colleges participating in the CAO system are easily accessed through CAO's own website. Relatively few colleges put up notices of welcome or congratulations to incoming students, which surprises this column.
University of Limerick (UL) displays a message for new students, which includes links to all relevant information, including a section called The First Seven Weeks. This is a UL initiative designed to give targeted support to incoming students during the crucial first seven weeks of college life.
UCD has a lot of information, when you follow the prominently displayed link for incoming students. NUI Galway and NUI Maynooth both have well displayed web guides for new students. Trinity College's home page displays a prominent link to orientation for new students, with connections to key dates, registration procedures and much more.
DCU's website welcomes all new students to orientation in September 2011, with links giving all relevant information.
UCC's links for incoming students are a little harder to find. Turning to the institutes of technology and other colleges, DkIT (Dundalk) displays a prominent message of general welcome, with a good link to information for new students.
Waterford IT directs new students to a link giving admissions information specific to them, outlining details of registration which will also be sent with their letter of offer.
GMIT and ITT Dublin (Tallaght), also display clear links. Limerick and Letterkenny ITs have some good information, as does IT Tralee.
In some cases, visitors have to dig harder. Space does not permit a comprehensive examination here of all websites, and there is plenty of 'tweeting' and 'facebooking' in every college website.
But colleges should check their websites with the eyes of a stranger seeking information, and see how they rate them.