Parents’ guide to the CAO change of mind facility

The CAO change of mind facility is now open and will remain open until July 1 at 5.15pm. This is a great service and can really help ease some of the pressure for Leaving Cert students (and indeed parents ) still concerned about third level choices.

At this stage your son or daughter probably falls into one of three groups:

Group 1: They are very happy with their CAO application and their only real concern is, “Will I get the points?”

For these students the advice is simple — do not make any changes. As long as students have completed their CAO based on what courses they really want, encourage them to stay confident in their choices, regardless of how they feel once they have completed the Leaving Cert exam. None of us has a crystal ball and none of us knows for sure how any exam has gone until you are holding that Leaving Cert results paper.

The last thing anyone wants to do is make an adjustment to CAO choices based on what points he/she thinks he/she may get, only to discover the student has done much better that he or she expected.

As long as they have completed their CAO based on their genuine order of preference, there should be no need to make any changes. Our job as parents is to reassure them that they have made the right choices.

Group number 2: They are happy with their first choice on their CAO application but have not given much consideration to their second, third, fourth choices, and so on.

Unfortunately not all students will be offered their first choice. So it is very important that students pay careful attention to choices further down the CAO application as they might well be offered their second or third choice.

A student must honestly ask the question, “Will I be happy to accept my third choice?" If the answer is no, then encourage your son/daughter to revisit the lower down choices using the CAO change of mind facility.

Category number 3: They still are very unsure about what course they should chose.

The change of mind facility is really made for these students, and my daughter fell into this category last year. At this stage the temptation for parents is to complete the CAO application for the student ourselves — but we must resist.

In fact, last year on the run up to the Leaving Cert I completely stopped talking about courses, universities, careers, points etc. Even when my daughter initiated conversation around this area I kicked for touch. Simply telling her to ‘focus on the exam itself and her studies and we could look at everything again once the exam was over.’

Right now students need to focus on maximising their grades in each subject. Once the Leaving Cert is over they will have at least a week to reflect on possible course choices and make adjustment to their CAO applications. Often, once the pressure and stress of the Leaving Cert exam is over, students will have a much clearer head, and are in a better state of mind to look to their future and decide what they really want to do.

During this period schools' guidance counsellors may not be available but most universities will have staff on hand to help students who are still agonising over their choices . NUI Galway will host a change of mind clinic on campus on Tuesday June 25 from 12 noon to 3pm in the Human Biology Building, where representatives from all the colleges will be available to meet Leaving Cert students and chat about their options.

You can register for the NUI Galway change of mind event at

Caroline Duggan, parent and schools liaison officer, NUI Galway.


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