It felt so far off, didn’t it? When all your teachers were yapping on about the CAO months ago you thought it was too silly because it was ages away. Well, it’s here now! No need to man the panic stations we have the lowdown on everything that you need to know about the CAO.
Making Your Application
Firstly, read the CAO handbook. Don’t mess about and try cut corners. Read the whole thing so you’re well-informed. Make sure to check the minimum entry requirements for each of the courses and take note of any restrictions, such as early application dates, supplementary information that may need to be submitted, or if an interview forms part of the qualification process. The fee for an online application is currently €45. There is an online discounted fee of €30 if you apply before 20th January (17:15). There’s more about the deadlines below. You can make your online application here. You have until the 1st of February to put courses down on your CAO in the order of 1 to 10 in terms of preference, but don’t get too worried about that just yet. Once you’ve completed the application keep everything safe. Make a special folder in your emails to keep all correspondence and if you receive any letters from the CAO put them in a special folder to keep them safe. And keep and eye out for any mistakes. You are responsible for yourself.
Know The Deadline Dates
Ok, first up this upcoming deadline. Get your application in. 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. It’s good to have a general idea of what you want to do but even if you don’t put something down for now like Arts or Business, and then you can change it later. It’s always best to keep your options open. Oh and 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.
After this cut-off the CAO will close and reopen for you to make changes. Changes cost €10 each time. We recommend not changing your CAO until it’s free to do so because who actually wants to spend more money especially when you can get it for free? Unless that is one of your courses falls into the restricted categories because early assessment for these may start as early as February. You can read more about restricted courses on the website. Hold off obsessing about you CAO. Keep looking for courses and researching. Once you have the Leaving Cert over you might have a better idea of how you fared. The Free Change Of Mind option opens the 4th of May and closes July 1. Fun story our Editor, Dani, found her future course in Trinity only a few ways before applications closed for good.
Know What You Want
Only put courses down that you’re actually interested in. You don’t want to be stuck in a course come September that you’re going to hate. Back-ups are great. Ideally have one. But only if it’s a viable and useful one. Talk to people who you know who have been through the process. Also seek out people who are in the course that you’re thinking about or people who are now working in the job that you’d like in the future. Colleges will gladly try put you in contact with someone if you have no-one to ask. UniBrowse.ie is a great way to research and compare courses and CAO points. Another useful site is Career Projector , which is a great way to help you find the right career path for you. Put your courses in the order that you genuinely want them. Don’t undersell yourself. Just think, you’d be raging if you get the points in August, but you put the course further down because you didn’t think that you’d get it. Believe in yourself! Like we said in our What you need to know about starting college piece, making sure that you’re in the right course is so important.
If you think you might qualify for a Grant make sure that you start getting the ball rolling on that now. Take a look at the SUSI website for more information about the process.
The very best of luck to you if you’re applying to the CAO this year. May the odds be ever in your favour!