Amidst all the uncertainty about arrangements for the Leaving Cert, there is one constant: the CAO Change of Mind process has opened this week, as usual, and will remain open until July 1.
With all that has happened since the arrival of coronavirus, it seems a long time ago since the CAO deadline of February 1, and many students will have different ideas about what they want to study and the order in which to list their courses.
Change of Mind allows any CAO applicant to alter their course listings.
While it remains open until July 1, it is always better to attend to this sooner rather than later.
Applicants use this facility for many reasons and usually about half take advantage of the opportunity.
Some will make minor changes to their order of preference, some will add new courses they have found and remove courses in which they are no longer interested.
Some will complete their course choices for the first time, having submitted a blank list with their initial application.
A large number are likely to add their Level 7/6 courses, which they did not have time to research fully before the February deadline.
Change of Mind is free and applicants may change as much and as often as they like, before July 1.
The most convenient way to make changes is via the 'my application' section on www.cao.ie. It is also possible to make changes through a postal application.
Despite all the current upheaval, the approach to the Change of Mind should be the same as it would be in any other year.
Applicants should begin by reviewing the list of courses they submitted and ask themselves would they still be happy if they received a place on each of them.
If an applicant has a course listed for which they would not accept a place if one was offered, they should consider removing it.
Then, applicants should reconsider their order or preference.
CAO choices should always be listed in genuine order of preference.
Applicants should ask themselves, 'Out of all of the courses in which I am interested, which do I want the most?' This course should be listed in the first box.
Applicants should note that once they receive a CAO offer, they cannot receive an offer of a course placed lower on their list in a subsequent round, but they may receive a higher offer.
Next, applicants should revisit their course research.
They may have discovered more courses for which they would like to apply since the initial deadline.
These courses can be added and should be added in genuine order of preference.
In addition, applicants should check the college alert lists available on cao.ie for new courses that may have been released after the CAO handbook was published.
These courses can also be added at this time.
I would suggest that all applicants review their order of preference and course choices at this point and review it again at the end of June, even if they choose not to make any changes.
Students will benefit from checking and reflecting on decisions, as well as discussing with family and friends.
Change of Mind usually coincides with the weeks immediately before the Leaving Cert through to about a week after it finishes.
At time of writing, the Leaving Cert has been rescheduled to start on July 29, and, if that turns out to be the case, it is likely that a further Change of Mind period will open.
But applicants should not rely on that and should use the time before July 1 to reflect on their choices.
CAO is in ongoing discussions with the State Examinations Commission about the expected revised time-line for the provision of Leaving Cert results.
Following on from this, CAO and the higher education colleges will continue to discuss the impact this change will have on the existing offers, acceptances and the Change of Mind schedule.
CAO says it will notify applicants as soon as a revised schedule has been agreed by CAO and the higher education institutions.
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Dublin