Congratulations to all the Leaving Cert students who received college offers in CAO round 1 and to those who have planned alternate routes for themselves into other career paths. The hard slog is over and a realisation hopefully that there are myriad pathways nowadays in which to arrive at our preferred destinations through PLCs, apprenticeships, and other access routes. Nonetheless at the moment there are students who remain indecisive about future roads which require prompt decisions. While the vast majority are happy enough to accept their top preferences, others find themselves at a crossroads. Students that have been offered their third or fourth choices (or lower ) ask themselves, should they accept a lower choice or repeat the Leaving Cert?
Consult with family and school
If students just drift into repeating willy-nilly, they are likely to drop out. It is a good idea to consult with the school guidance counsellor if available, to flesh out the options. Remember CAO points must come from one sitting only. They cannot be combined from one Leaving Cert to the next, but the CAO will accept your highest points score from any sitting so you cannot lose from repeating the examinations. In addition to this, if you have already achieved a minimum grade in one subject in your first sitting, you can use this grade to satisfy matriculation purposes, thereby only repeating six subjects for points purposes. There is no guarantee a student will do better the second time around unfortunately, although the vast majority do come up in points. It is indeed possible to achieve fewer points than the first time around. Some subjects may have different course work the following year. Repeating might involve taking on a new subject as you can drop subjects you did the first time round if you fulfilled the minimum requirements for the courses you are applying for. Taking on a new subject is a good option for students looking to re-orient their subject choice towards future study that may suit them better.
To repeat or not?
The decision to repeat the Leaving Cert is not to be taken lightly. One must first examine the reasons for wanting to repeat and what one believes the gains will be. Many students in this situation already have a good Leaving Cert but fall short of the points requirement, thereby facing another very challenging year. Others may feel they did not give it their best shot. You need to consider the reasons that you believe this is the right course for you. It is also important to be informed if an offer you have already could lead to a back door entry. Students need to mentally prepare themselves to face another difficult year and once more give it their all. Consider if it is possible to reapply next year, make a fresh application and re-orient choices. For those who got no offer, have you looked at ‘available places’ on the CAO website?
CAO Available/Vacant Places
Each year, there are a number of courses where not all of the available places are filled during the CAO offer process. These courses are then transferred to the CAO Available Places list, where the places are advertised. Candidates who did not originally apply to these courses but satisfy the entry requirements are entitled to apply to these courses once they appear on the Available Places list. In addition to this, courses that have been added to the CAO since July 1 can also appear on the list. So if you have not received an offer, it can be worthwhile to examine the list to see if any of the courses with available places would be the right fit for you.
Where to repeat?
Returning to your old school is at the discretion of the school principal and this is normally not a problem once discussed. You know the run of the place and your teachers, but some students feel out of place as their classmates have moved on. You may also decide to attend a dedicated grinds school, and financially this comes at a very high price. Few school nowadays have a dedicated repeat class but it is definitely worth investigating
Finally, there is still a chance, albeit a small one, that your offer may come through in Round 2 or 3.