Dealing with CAO offers, decisions, and disappointments

For the many students now happy with their CAO offers – congratulations and well done. But, amid all this excitement, make sure that all acceptance procedures are followed.

Round one acceptances close on Monday August 24. If accepting online, as the majority of students now do, ensure you print out a copy of your course acceptance. If posting your acceptance get a certificate of posting. 

Should a student wish to request a deferral, this needs to be with the college concerned, by letter or email, at least two days before the reply date shown on the offer notice. 

Uneasy with CAO offer

Should a student get a lower preference CAO offer than expected, great disappointment may arise, as many students so expect their top course. 

Though initially disappointed, a student needs to realise that his/her first round CAO offer may be the only CAO offer. Some students know immediately that they will not accept a lower course offer and have already made a decision to repeat their Leaving Certificate to achieve stronger results and wider options. Other students may be still wavering as to whether they accept their offer.  

These latter students should fully examine the courses they have been offered, and consider why they may have put that particular course down on their CAO application. Do they need to visit the college location – or maybe the cost of moving away to college may now simply be too expensive. Above all, try not to accept a course simply to start college. 

Available/vacant places

The CAO available/vacant places is updated daily on the CAO website, Though certainly an opportunity for students to now apply to possible courses nearer to home, or of more interest or suitability to a student, such courses need to be examined thoroughly. 

Viewing exam scripts

Though normally viewed with the hope of successfully appealing an exam result, viewing exam scripts can be equally valuable for students who may be considering repeating the Leaving Certificate. This will allow a student a clearer understanding of how he/she actually performed in each subject and how best to improve next year. Viewing dates are Friday August 28 and Saturday August 29. 

Repeating your Leaving Certificate

Repeating the Leaving Certificate is never an easy choice for a student, particularly a student who feels that he/she has worked to his/her utmost ability. Always get reasoned advice. 

Some students have carried this reality in their hearts all summer and are now slowly coming to terms with the concept. Other students may be dealing with deep and unexpected disappointment. 

Medicine is the only course where a student is required to present all the requirements for such a course, in one single sitting of the Leaving Certificate. All other courses will allow a combination of subjects required but not points, allowing a student to maybe drop some weaker subjects and successfully take up a new subject/s for repeating the Leaving Certificate. Discuss all this carefully.

Post-Leaving Certificate courses

While many places are already filled, the consideration of successfully completing a post Leaving Certificate course may be the solution for a student who simply needs a year out to further assess his/her choices and options. Other students use their post Leaving Certificate course to gain a valuable qualification or additional points for entry to college next year. So maybe check out available courses.

Second round CAO offers

Second round CAO offers will be made on Thursday August 26, with Wednesday September 2 the closing date for such offers.

As ever, stay calm. If you are upset or worried ask questions, seek help. With a little extra time, decisions can and most often do become clearer. 

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 career, study and education planning. Contact: 091 841424/086 2359751/[email protected]


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