CAO 101: The Guide To A Successful CAO Application

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So, I know you must’ve thought that the CAO was miles away and that you had absolutely ages to get that all sorted, but in the craziness of sixth year you managed to leave it a little late and now the deadline has creeped up out of nowhere.

Well not to worry, here is the ultimate guide to having the successful, stress free application. Just remember, pick your course because you want it not because other people want it. 

Here are some tips to help you wade through the stress and confusion of the CAO application.

1.Go to open days. 

Colleges have open days through most of October and November and most colleges repeat them again in January and February, so schedule in a trip. For bigger courses like Medicine or Law they will have their own separate open days. Going to Open Days can really help you chose which college you want to go to. It’s a great chance to get the overall feel of a college and it might be easier to visualise yourself actually going to that college.

2. Process of elimination. 

Picking a course can be seriously hard, especially if don’t know what you want to do. Start by writing down your interests and your favourite subjects. Then look up college courses that resemble those choices and by process of elimination you can start to narrow them down. 

3. Read up on courses on Qualifax 

Qualifax is a very useful website that basically has all the information about any course in Ireland. It gives you the course breakdown, points needed, if there are any special requirements and more. Read about the course you’re interested in to make sure that you really understand exactly what the course is about. You may find something you might not like about the course that will turn you off it, so it’s better to know now rather than find yourself sitting in a lecture come September that leaves you going “WTF”.

4. Read CAO handbook and watch the online video. 

Not only will this make the entire CAO application process less daunting, but it will help stop you from making small mistakes in the application.  So, don’t cut corners when it comes to reading the handbook, it has all the information. Boring we know, but it’s there for a reason.

5. Give the CAO a weekend to think about. 

Don’t leave it between study breaks. You need to give it a whole weekend at least so that you know you’re making the right decision. There is no point in putting loads of effort into studying hard for exams only to come out with a course you don’t really like because you’ve made a mess of the CAO. 

6. Remember to fill as many spaces as you can in your course list. 

Each CAO year is subjective to the students that sit their Leaving Cert in that year. Course points will go up and down depending on how many people want the course. Don’t chance it and only put one course on your CAO even if you are certain you can get the points. Things can always change, so my advice would be to fill all ten of the course spaces or at least some of them. 

7. Have backups 

Don’t just fill you whole application with the exact same course from different colleges, have another choice down there. Fill in some level seven courses. Go to an interview for a PLC just in case. Have backups for your backups. Just play it safe when it comes to the CAO. 

8. Make decisions for you. 

It doesn’t matter what your parents want you to do or what your teacher tells you is the easiest route for a job. Pick your course based on what you want to study. It’s worthless spending four years in a course you don’t like; you’ll go insane. A job will come later.

9. DO NOT change your mind on what course you want after exams. 

Even if you think you out-right failed the LC, don’t take a course off because you think you won’t get it. You may do better than you think, and points may still go down. If you don’t get it your second choice will still be there, but it’ll hurt if you end up getting the points after taking your top choice off. Seriously, it would be soul destroying!

10. You Need To Get An Application In Now

And the reason we’re talking about the CAO application now is that one of the super important deadlines is quickly looming. deadline. The 1st of February is the main cut off-date. Even if you’re not 100% what in the name of God you’re doing come next September, get your name in the system. Those deadlines are there for a reason. You are not a special snowflake in the eyes of the CAO. Excuses and exceptions won’t be made just for you, so get your application in on time. If one of your course choices is on the restricted courses list you must have your application with the course on it in by the 1st of February. This is really important if you have you heart set on a medicine course.

The closing date for late applications is the 1st of May. You can read the full list of deadlines on the website.

We have a whole section on Missy.ie dedicated to the CAO application process because we obvs love it SO much! You can read up about it here.

Best of luck to everyone submitting a CAO application this year!

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