If you hope to start an undergraduate college course in September, you need to register your application with the Central Applications Office as early as possible. The discounted fee currently stands at €45. The normal registration deadline for most applications is February 1.
If you are applying for a course listed as 'restricted' in the CAO Handbook you must complete your courses applications for those programmes by February 1. These courses often include a portfolio of work, an aptitude test, audition, or an interview.
Research all options
Even if you know what you want to do you may be surprised what research brings up.
If you want to do a course leading to a specific occupation — such as primary school teaching, nursing, medicine, occupational therapy, or speech and language therapy — you need to explore all available programmes on offer which lead to a recognised certification from the professional bodies in your field of interest. This, for example, could be the Teaching Council, An Bord Altranais, the Medical Council, etc.
List your course choices in genuine order of interest, ensuring you are taking the required subjects, at the appropriate level, in your Leaving Cert or other recognised examination.
Focus on course content
If you are applying for a college place for the coming year without a specific occupation in mind, but know that your interest is within a recognised field of study — such as science, business, liberal arts, languages, etc — then don’t worry about what occupation or role you might have as occupations can change over time.
Rather than focus on the occupation you hope to secure, focus on the specific course content of every programme on offer from course providers. Failure by students to carry out this basic task is by far the biggest reason for drop-out from college courses.
Research course modules thoroughly Qualifax.ie and careersportal.ie are great resources where you can research every detail of every course. Many applicants continue to list courses on their CAO application without having seriously studied what modules are taught in each year of the course, how the programme is assessed, and what optional modules are available.
New deadline for HEAR and DARE applicants
HEAR stands for Higher Education Access Route, and DARE for Disability Access Route to Education. Detailed information for both schemes is availble on accesstocollege.ie
If you are a HEAR or DARE applicant you need to indicate your interest by February 1, applicants for HEAR and DARE need to complete the online part of their application by March 1, and from 2020 the new date for all documentation relating to your application must be with the CAO by March 15.
Third level is not for everyone. There are numerous PLC courses available in colleges of further education throughout the country which are of one or two years' duration.
There have never been more opportunities for young people following the completion of PLC courses.
Trust your instincts and make sure that you are the one making the right course choice for you. Do not be influenced by family or friends.
Patricia O’Flaherty, guidance counsellor.