Ask anyone who’s made it though their Leaving Cert year what the most stressful part of it all was and they’ll probably say the CAO application is the worst.
At the best of times (pre-pandemic) the CAO was a huge roll of the dice. Trying to guesstimate what points you’ll get and rank courses is really difficult. Add in trying to actually pick a career and a location for college and then still have points looming over you is a lot…and then the pandemic hit.
The 2021 Leaving Cert is a mess, just like the 2020 one was. As of right now, we have no answers about what is actually going to happen with the LC and neither do you, your teachers or anyone else for that matter. GREAT!
So, what do you do about that 2021 CAO application that’s looming?
Just Get Your Application In Before 1 February
Ok, first up this upcoming deadline. Get your application in. Forget everything else for the moment. Fill out that form and pay your fee if you haven’t already. 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.
Your Course Order Doesn't Really Matter Right Now
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 anyway if you’re not sure.
Make Sure You Know All The Requirements For Courses
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.
Don't Obsess About It...There's Still A Good Bit To Go
I think this is my fourth year writing advice articles about CAO and regardless of the pandemic I say the same thing every year: don’t panic about the CAO form…yet. There’s no point me telling you not to stress about it at all, because you will and that’s normal. But there’s no point in getting worked up about it right now when everything is up in the air.
Right now you just need to get your application in. CAO will reopen on the 5th of May for you to make free amendments. You should hopefully have a better understanding on what is actually happening with the Leaving Cert by then. Worry about the order of your courses and points then.
How are you coping with filling out your CAO Application 2021?