CAO 2016 offers, disappointments, and all other options.

We now have students who are happy with their first round CAO offer and those who are definitely either uncertain or very unhappy. It is important to know that there are always options to consider. So try to stay calm and see what is available to suit your student.

Happy with offer

Congratulations. And now follow all instructions in accepting your offer. Closing date is 5.15pm on Monday August 29.

Uncertain about offer

Some students were already expecting a lower preference course, so may have already been discussing and considering such an event, but other students may now find themselves bitterly disappointed, maybe having lost out on a much-wanted course by only five or 10 points.

Should a lower preference course now interest a student, it is always advisable to visit the college and discuss your course.

Some students may be surprised to find a genuine interest and delight in the lower course and happily now accept.

But other students may find that their genuine interest is only in their higher preference options and feel there is no way they wish to take a lower option.

Options

Such students may feel they might wait for a second round offer (which is never certain ); other students may feel they might gain an upgrade with subject rechecks (again this is uncertain and rechecks will not be published until October ); and some students may definitely decide to repeat their Leaving Certificate.

These are very serious decisions for a student to take, but it is also a big decision to take up a course a student is genuinely not happy with, either in content or location, and where such an attitude may cause them to drop out of that course during the year, or fail their exams. This will, so often, lead to great personal and financial distress. This is hard to realise when the driving emotion is to go to college with all of their friends.

With all of these options do try to get genuine and wise advice. Keeping it all bottled up, behind closed doors, will only lead to closed options and even deeper disappointment.

CAO available/ vacant places

Vacant places re-opened last Tuesday August 23 and will be updated daily. Go to www.cao.ie to further investigate.

These are courses that are still available for students to apply to and, for some students, may well open new doors. It may bring a course closer to home or it may open a course not considered before.

As with all course choices, take great care in choosing and follow the instructions for applying carefully. Again, avoiding taking a course just to go to college.

Repeating the Leaving Certificate

While it may be early for some students to make such a decision, there will be students who now realise that: a ) they absolutely did not do themselves justice in their Leaving Certificate; and b ) that the only way to get the course, and career, they want, will involve repeating the Leaving Certificate.

While this is never easy for a student, sometimes it can even bring a certain relief at getting a second and wiser chance, to achieve their best and their dreams. But always get clear advice and have a plan and strategy for such a year ahead.

Deferring a place

Whatever the reason, the request for a deferral must be with the college which offered the student the course, by letter or email, two days before the reply date shown on their offer notice. Go to page 20 of the CAO Handbook 2016 for full instructions on deferring a course this year – and on taking up a deferral next year.

PLC/FETAC courses

Post-Leaving Certificate courses are highly valued qualifications in themselves, while equally intelligent and happy pathways to third level the following year. Always check the pathway and links of individual courses if you are using them as a stepping-stone to future college entry. Check out your local colleges of further education.

Apprenticeships

Apart from the regular apprenticeships, this September, SOLAS is to commence with a range of new business and technology apprenticeships – but check out www.solas.ie as this year the apprenticeships are only in certain locations and may not suit all students.

Keeping calm

Though early days of disappointment are stressful, for both parents and students, time will help unravel a new pathway ahead.

Watch deadlines, for those accepting offers and for those looking at new options. Always trust that these days will pass – and, even if it takes another year, that new opportunities can await and success can be expected and achieved. Just speak out, look for help and advice and, maybe, open your own belief in yourself a little more.

The National Parents’ Council Helpline can be contacted at 1800 265 165.

Marie Barrett is founder and a director of MBCS, Marie Barrett Career Services, Loughrea, Co Galway. She is author of The Education Guide and contributes to national and local radio education programmes. MBCS works individually with second-level students and parents in individual student and career, study, and education planning. Contact 091 841424/086 2359751 or [email protected].

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