FEBRUARY 1 at 5pm is the CAO application deadline for intending CAO applicants.

This deadline does not mean that time is up for your course choice. By this deadline, the CAO wants you to pay the application fee, to have your application filled in and submitted, and you will receive your CAO number thereafter.

It is vital that the CAO applicant reads all correspondence pertaining to their application from the CAO throughout the process.

You can set up your account on the CAO website and there is also a demo for the application which is very useful - www.cao.ie

If you feel a sense of panic or worry or confusion, or currently don’t really know what to put down, I strongly advise you not to panic or rush the process.

The CAO change of mind facility, which opens on 7, 2024, runs up until July 1, 2024, and allows you to add courses, remove courses, change order and preference.

The only reason you need to have your CAO application complete is if you are applying for a restricted course.

A restricted course is a course that requires additional aspects such as entrance tests like the HPAT exam for medicine, portfolios for example in art, graphic design or architecture.

One important piece of advice is to investigate and check whether you will be applying for a restricted course or not.

If you are still in doubt and there may be a possibility, put it on your CAO list before February 1. You can remove it with the opening of the change of mind facility in May, but importantly, you cannot add it at that point in May.

If you are applying for the HEAR or DARE scheme, there are important dates to note. You must apply for the scheme by February 1. You must have the final completion of online HEAR/DARE forms completed by March 1, 2024.

You need to have supporting documentation for these schemes, which need to arrive at the CAO offices by 5pm on March 15, 2024.

To find out more about these scheme or to see if you are eligible, see www.accesscollege.ie

Filling in your application form is the easy part, it’s deciding on which courses to choose that you will enjoy, and that will take you to your chosen career, that is more difficult.

At www.careerhub.ie, I meet parents and students who feel very overwhelmed choosing their courses. There are so many similar courses, courses that are labelled the same but have different outcomes. Entry routes and progressions also tend to cause uncertainty.

Research is vital - thorough research via college websites, search engines like Qualifax, attending open days or talks or consulting with a career guidance counsellor for individual guidance.

Every student and family situation is unique, sometimes certain college locations may not be viable and people are seeking alternatives.

The other confusing and stressful aspect is the order of preference. It’s a phrase parents and Leaving Certificate students will hear all the time, but what does it actually mean?

There are two lists on the CAO application. The first list is for Level 8 courses (honours degrees) and the other list is for Level 6/7 courses (Higher Cert./ordinary degree).

Each list allows applicants to enter 10 courses, so 20 courses in total. It is important to note that these two lists do not have to be completely full; it is strongly advisable that both contain courses of choice.

When the offers are made, if the student receives their first choice and accepts it, they will receive no more offers below this.

It’s the same principle for accepting the second offer, then they won’t get offered the third, so the order is integral to a successful application for the students.

Time should be given to consider all courses that will lead to the desired career path.

At careerhub.ie, students and their parents will seek advice to get the CAO application right, to ensure that they have maximised their chance to get into their chosen careers.

Recent students of mine, for example, are seeking to do primary teaching / physiotherapy, and while the Level 8 degrees in Ireland for these have very high points, they will still put these down as their ‘top choice’ courses at the top of her list.

After this, then undergraduate degrees that you can use to enter physiotherapy/primary teaching on a different pathway, to be followed by postgraduate study.

It is also important to note that PLCs are a great entry route, they lie outside the CAO application. They can offer progressions into courses that maybe you didn’t get enough points for.

A great source to investigate these; www.fetchcourses.ie

You have plenty of time to continue on your research, keep researching and investigating. There are endless possibilities and routes to take you to your chosen career.

You need to find the right courses for you and build them into your CAO application.

Michelle Flynn is a Guidance Counsellor and Career Advisor specialising in career guidance for students and their parents and career change at www.careerhub.ie or follow @careerhub.ie on Instagram or Facebook

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Advice as the CAO application deadline nears

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24.01.2024

FEBRUARY 1 at 5pm is the CAO application deadline for intending CAO applicants.

This deadline does not mean that time is up for your course choice. By this deadline, the CAO wants you to pay the application fee, to have your application filled in and submitted, and you will receive your CAO number thereafter.

It is vital that the CAO applicant reads all correspondence pertaining to their application from the CAO throughout the process.

You can set up your account on the CAO website and there is also a demo for the application which is very useful - www.cao.ie

If you feel a sense of panic or worry or confusion, or currently don’t really know what to put down, I strongly advise you not to panic or rush the process.

The CAO change of mind facility, which opens on 7, 2024, runs up until July 1, 2024, and allows you to add courses, remove courses, change order and preference.

The only reason you need to have your CAO application complete is if you are applying for a restricted course.

A restricted course is a course that requires additional aspects such as entrance tests like the HPAT exam for medicine, portfolios for example in art, graphic design or architecture.

One important piece of advice is to investigate and check whether you will........

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