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CAO

0 In College/ Lifestyle/ School

CAO 101: The Guide To A Successful CAO Application

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!

0 In Careers/ School

CAO Offers: What To Do Now

How To:CAO Change of Mind

The motto of the CAO really should be “May the odds be ever in your favour” because its pretty tense and you literally can never guarantee how it’s going to go.

We’ve talked you though the whole process of the CAO from the initial application to the change of mind, but now it’s finally time to see what the next step is for you because the CAO offers are out.

Panic and confusion can start to set in, so here’s a quick guide about what to do and the options available to you…

 

If you’re happy with your course and it’s 100% what you want…

Firstly, congrats!! Secondly, accept it now. Yes, the deadline is Friday, but why wait? There’s a lot to do now that you’re college bound, so tick that one job off the list. If you miss the deadline your place will be offered to someone else.

 

If you got offered another course…

The big question that you need to ask yourself is ,will this course still give you the qualification that you need to pursue your chosen career? If the answer is no, you need to walk away from this offer. Don’t get side-tracked about what you want to do with your life. There is no point going to college just for the sake of going. Yes, it’s so much harder to admit that it didn’t work out for you, but honestly no one is going to judge you. The LC is hard and the CAO system leaves a lot to be desired.

And another thing; it would be awful to think that you might be taking the place of someone who desperately wants to be on the course. All courses not accepted go back into the system and are then offered to people in Round 2. Which also means that if someone turns down the course you want you *might* still get it.

 

If you got no CAO offers at all…

It happens and it’s awful. We’ve already put together a comprehensive guide about your Leaving Cert options if you need to up your points. Another avenue worth considering is the vacant course options. Again, don’t take something if it’s not what you really want.

 

If you’re not ready for college

So, you got a course that you do actually kinda like the sounds of, but you’re not quite sure if you’re ready for the whole college thing right now? Well, you have the option to defer the course for one year. This usually means paying a deposit to hold the spot for you. A gap year can be an invaluable experience in life, IF you do it correctly. Think traveling or trying out a new job and not sleeping in everyday!

 

This can be a super exciting time in your life, but it can also be filled with uncertainty and anxiety. If you need to chat to anyone to set your mind straight we have a list of helplines. The best of luck to you all and please do pop us a message to let us know how you’re getting on!

0 In School

“I Failed The Leaving Cert”: What To Do Now

Failed The Leaving Cert

So, you failed the Leaving Cert?

Okay, failed is probably being super dramatic. It may just be the case that you didn’t get the grades that you need for your course? And that is a truly awful feeling.

Firstly, don’t start panicking too much. The CAO offers aren’t out until Monday. You could be lucky and still get the course that you wanted. BUT, it doesn’t hurt to start mentally preparing yourself about what you’re going to do if it doesn’t come up smelling of roses on Monday. So, maybe start looking into some of your options now.

 

Repeat 6th Year

Arguably the worst option is up first because let’s be honest, who actually wants to go back and repeat 6th year again? Repeating is a very personal choice. It can be the right fit for some people. It’s best to book an appointment with your school guidance counsellor to talk about everything. If you know that you need to put in a significant amount of work to up your points drastically next year, returning to full-time school might be the best option for you. It can feel like an awful thing to do, but once you get the first few days of school over with and get to know your new classmates, it will be fine. Very few people who actually put in the work regret repeating 6th year. Failing the Leaving Cert is often the “kick” that some people need to get their priorities and focus in order.

 

Get Your Exams Rechecked

There is an option to view your exams to see how they were marked and if you think they were incorrectly done or that you genuinely deserved a higher grade you can have them re-checked. It’s best to ask a teacher to view them with you as they can give you a proper opinion on whether you should get them re-checked or not. There is a fee involved per exam, but it will be refunded if your grade goes up. Missy Editor, Dani, got her History re-checked back in the day and she did receive a higher grade. While this is a worthwhile option, especially when you deserve the proper credit for all the work that you put in, its best to always have a back-up incase your points don’t go up or it’s too late to get your college course.

 

Independent Study

Sometimes physiologically or financially its just not possible for people to return to full-on 6th year. Independent study requires serious discipline and commitment for the whole school year. Not that you just whip out the books to start studying in May. You might be able to juggle a part-time job along with study, but be careful with what you can handle.

 

Repeat The Leaving Cert In A Specialised Program

If the idea of going back to your old school to repeat just isn’t an option look into repeating the Leaving Cert in other institutions. Places like Plunket College of Further Education in Dublin offer a year-long Leaving Cert course in a more relaxed environment. Yeats College Waterford is also another option. Check out and see what options are available locally.

 

PLC

We could probably write a whole article on PLC courses, but for now here are the basics…

If you have your heart set on a particular college course or career check and see if a PLC course enables you to access the course through a “progression route”. Not all PLC courses have this option, so do your research. Have a meeting with the course coordinators and make sure that the course will enable you to still access the course that you need (seriously, double and triple-check this because you don’t want to waste your time and money). A PLC course will not give you “extra” points. Instead ‘new’ points will be calculated on the basis of your results from the PLC / FETAC course.

To be awarded a FETAC Level 5 certificate you must pass 8 modules. For each of the modules you complete you are awarded a Distinction, Merit, Pass or Undefined (Fail).

Points wise this translates as:

Distinction – 50
Merit – 35
Pass – 20

Your best 8 modules are used to calculate your CAO points total. So, the best you can get is 8 Distinctions giving you 400 points. Note: PLC points and LC points are not added together, they are two separate qualifications.

If you are considering a specific college look up the course on qualifax.ie and see what it says under FETAC qualifications. If it lists a specific FETAC course then that is all they will accept, if it doesn’t then they will accept any PLC. There are actually a number of places on courses (mainly in ITs) reserved for PLC students in the CAO system. However, if your points are high enough you may just get it through the conventional manner as your points will match up to similar LC applicants. You can do a PLC in a wide variety of areas and often it can lay a great foundation for college courses. The student grant is available for students who do PLCs. It will not affect you getting the grant at third level if you continue on after completing your PLC.

 

Look, we always tell it like it is on missy.ie; failing the Leaving Cert, or not getting the points you need, SUCKS, but it’s not the end of the world.

Yes, it is as failure and you will need to acknowledge that, mope and move on from it. Don’t allow this set-back to move you away from your ultimate career goal. We can be our own worst enemies in these situations. The L.C is hard, everyone knows that. There’s no shame in failing, as long as you learn a hard lesson from it. So, chin up.

0 In Careers/ Lifestyle/ School

CAO Change of Mind: What To Do If You’re Having Doubts

How To:CAO Change of Mind

CAO Change of Mind

You filled out your CAO ages ago, you’re feeling confident in your choices, you know the grades you need to get and the Leaving Cert is new in the rearview window. However, maybe you have that niggling feeling at the back of your mind… maybe your top choice isn’t what you want to do. Are you doing this course for you or because your parents/fav teacher has pushed you towards it? It’s perfectly ok to have a change of heart, and we’re here to tell you exactly what to do if you feel like you might have changed your mind.

The Facts

  1. The CAO reopens on the 4th of May 2018 @ 12 Noon, and closes again on 1st July 2018 @ 17.15 sharp. This is also known as the CAO Change of Mind.
  2. There is no fee to change your CAO at this point.
  3. By submitting a CAO Change of Mind, the system automatically cancels “all the previous course choices in any category in which changes are made” CAO.ie However, the two course categories of Level 8 and Level 7/6 are treated separately. Changing a Level 8 course only effects other Level 8’s and vice versa.
  4. If changing, make sure you list the course you’re changing in the correct category. Also ensure all other courses you choose are in order before re-submitting.
  5. You can change your mind as many times as you like between the 4th of May and the deadline on 1st July 2018.

Knowing If You Want To Change Your Mind

You may be very confident in your choices and that’s great, but it won’t do you any harm to double-check your choices when the CAO reopens. Have a scroll through the list, make sure your first choice is still definitely your first choice. If you’ve only got 2 or 3 courses down, maybe do some more Googling and pop a few more down, it’s always good to have options, and there are so many courses out there to choose from.

You checked your courses and everything was in order. Now though, after sitting that exam, you’re a bit apprehensive, it wasn’t exactly what you expected. Self doubt will only stress you out in these situations.When under pressure we often make mountains out of mole hills, as they saying goes. You will probably surprise yourself once you open your results in August, so don’t jump the gun and change everything because you feel you mightn’t have done as well as you hoped. The best thing is to stick with what you want as your top choice, but throw in a few back-ups further down the list, just incase.

You’re more than likely over thinking things, but if you feel you want to avail of the CAO change of mind, there are a few things to consider.

Research, Research, Research

We can’t stress enough how important it is to research the course you want to do. This will be your life for the next 3/4 years, and perhaps your career after that. It’s important you have a keen interest in the subject, it’s even more important you see yourself being happy in the course. When doing your research we recommend you check the course outline, read the in-depth description of each module (both core modules and choice modules), and see what the course structure for years 2 and 3 etc is like. A great way to see what your course might lead to is to check the “careers” tab listed on most course pages. This page usually contains testimonials of past graduates sharing how the degree helped shape their career.

Go Broad or Go Home

If you’re on the fence (we don’t blame you, choosing a career path at the age of 17/18 is overwhelming at times) it’s best to look into courses that offer a broad range of material. Rather than choosing a course that is very specific and may lead to a smaller amount of career paths or future study, pick something that is a bit broader in its structure. Your friends/family/teachers may have opinions on these types of courses, but when you’ve graduated and can dip into an abundance of careers or postgrads you’ll be reassured you made the right decision for you when it came to the CAO all those years ago! Check out QualifaX for a range of info on all things education.

Don’t Follow The Crowd

If you check your CAO and it’s a list of courses at a college or uni where your friends are going, perhaps take a moment to re-evaluate. Going to a certain college just because it’s where a majority of your friends are going is not always a wise choice. Especially if you’re having doubts about the course you’ve chosen on your CAO. Going to college is a life experience like none other. It’s often an opportunity to evolve, try new things, evaluate who you are, and “find yourself.” (Perfectly ok to graduate and still not have a clue of any of this, but it’s always nice to think it’s an option).

So, if you’re doubting your CAO choices and want to go to a uni that isn’t a popular choice among friends, go for it. This is your life, choosing a path based on other people’s ideas and opinions is something you may end up regretting.

PLC Please

If you’re panicking about how the LC went, cover your back and look into some PLC courses. It’s not going to do any harm having back-ups if things don’t go the way you wanted. Look up the courses on your CAO and see if they accept PLC courses as another means of entry. PLC’s are also a great way to get a taster for the course you’ve chosen to do. So, if things don’t go right in August, rest assured that there are other options than just those you listed on your CAO.

We will have more about your options once the Leaving Cert results are out.

Have you any questions or concerns about the CAO change of mind? Let us know in the comments below.

0 In Careers

Everything You Need To Know About The CAO

Everything You Need To Know About The CAO

Everything You Need To Know About The CAOIt 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.

Making Changes

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!