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Filling in your CAO: Where to Start

Filling in your CAO: Where to Start

Rachael Dunphy

With the Christmas break over and the new year in full swing, the chances of someone having mentioned the CAO are high. It can be a scary time trying to decide which path your future might take, and hopefully these tips will help take the stress out of the CAO decisions.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when filling in your CAO application form…

Take a deep breath

The last few months of Sixth Year can be a crazy time. Between studying, debs preparations and wondering where you and your friends will be this time next year; it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed. So, before heading straight into your next big adventure, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. If college or university isn’t for you, there’s plenty of options out there. From PLC courses and apprenticeships, to heading into the workforce, there’s so many ways to get where you want to be.

Try to narrow things down

Most of us don’t know exactly what we want when we’re in our teenage years, but it’s safe to say we know what we don’t want. If you dread double maths on a Monday morning, maybe heading to college to be a maths teacher isn’t the way to go. The same goes if the thoughts of reading a novel makes you nauseous, an English course might not be for you. Everyone has their own strengths, and there’s no shame in admitting what may or may not be for you.

Get in Touch

Although it may feel like it sometimes, you’re not the first person in the world to go through the transition from secondary school to college. There’s lots of people to talk to before you set anything in stone.

Try talking to your school’s Career Guidance department to see if they have any tips or tricks on the best way to fill in your options, or even an older sibling or friend who’s done it all before. If you’re set on a specific course, it might be worth your while contacting someone who studies the same or even goes to that certain college.

If you’ve missed the Open Days, most colleges have Student Ambassadors who you can get in contact with on their websites or even their social media accounts.

Don’t compare yourself

Some of your friends may have had a plan in place since the moment you entered secondary school, and honestly, good for them. But that doesn’t mean you have to as well. It’s completely normal not to have everything set in stone in your teen years. 

On that note, don’t compare what course you’re putting on your list to what your friends are doing. Whatever you choose (or don’t choose) is just as worthwhile and important as what your classmates are choosing.

See Also

Know that your CAO isn’t the be all and end all

There’s so much pressure put on teenagers to know exactly what they want after school. But know, it’s always okay to say you’ve changed your mind, or admit that things haven’t worked out. If you find yourself in your dream course or job, and you realise it really isn’t for you, there is no shame in admitting it’s not the right fit. There are so many careers out there with so many paths to getting there, and whether it takes two years or twenty to get there, it always works out in the end.

Have you any tips for filling in your CAO?

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