On November 5th at 12pm the CAO opened it’s application process for this year. This year applicants are advised to apply online where possible and are advised against leaving the application until near the closing dates. Other advice includes trying to have it in no later than one week prior to a closing date. The closing dates are as follows: 20th January for an online discounted rate of €25, 1st February for the normal application rate of €40 or a late application on 1st May for €50. There is also a change of mind option, with no fee.
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So even if the application gets left until a week before the first closing date of 20th January, there is still plenty of time over the next few weeks and months for those important decisions. There is plenty to choose from and every year there are new courses added to the selection. Here is a round up of just some of the new courses that are on offer this year:
Bioveterinary Science (Athlone IT)
Business with Business Psychology (College of Humanities and Applied Sciences)
Languages and International Tourism (Chinese) (DIT)
Creative Music Production (IADT)
International Hospitality Management (Griffith College)
Process Engineering Systems (IT Carlow)
Human Nutrition and Health (IT Sligo)
Culinary Arts and Food Technology (Letterkenny IT)
Industrial Electrical Engineering (Limerick IT)
Digital Marketing with Social Media (Tralee IT)
Criminology (UCC) (NUI)
With all the choice that is out there, it can be overwhelming trying to decide which course is best for you. That is where a school guidance counsellor can play an important role. A lot of guidance counsellors will have already made appointments with each of their 6th years and these appointments are a great time for discussing any questions you may have, as well as your individual needs and plans for the future. It is a good idea to set out a plan for the meeting before meeting with a guidance professional, noting any specific questions you want to discuss, so that you get the most out of your meeting. Of course, there will be the option of scheduling further meetings after the initial one, depending on how sure you are about possible choices. Keep in mind that the guidance counsellor is also there to support you should you feel stressed about exams or decisions.
Open days are another great way to help making a decision as you can get a feel for a college, the course and meet lecturers and students. It can be difficult to choose a course based on viewing a college website or hearsay so sometimes it can be best to see somewhere for yourself to know if it’s right for you. Every college holds an open day at various stages throughout the year and they are well worth going to. Keep an eye out on college websites for details and your school and guidance counsellor will also keep you up to date.
Although the CAO system is the most popular way for gaining entry into third level education; it is not the only way. It is a good idea as you plan your educational future, to have some alternative plans in place as a back up should you not get an offer through the CAO. It can be worthwhile considering studying in the UK by applying through UCAS, the British admissions service for students applying to study. Application closing dates are either 15th January 6pm or 24th March 6pm, depending on what course you have chosen. Check out www.ucas.com for more details.
Alternative options closer to home include PLCs; they provide a FETAC qualification which is internationally recognised and are one to two years in length. A pass in the Leaving Certificate is necessary to apply but it is not based on the same points system as the CAO. Applications are made to the course provider and there is also an interview to determine the applicant’s suitability. Examples of courses on offer are fashion, hairdressing and business studies, with many course giving the student the option to continue their studies in a university or institute of technology. There are also a wide range of online training courses available as well as places in private colleges such a Griffith College, where there are many of courses on offer that are not listed on the CAO.
So get your thinking cap on over the coming months and try to consider all your options, talk to your guidance counsellor and get your applications in on time; the future is yours!