Next Monday, 6th of November, the central applications office (CAO) opens its online facility for 2018 college applications for school leavers and mature students. While many at this stage have some idea of an interest area or even a specific career, many more students are still questioning the road they will take. Here are some pointers to get you focused:
The first step is to register on the CAO website. There is a reduced rate fee of 30 euro up to 20th of January. The normal closing date for applications is the Ist of Feb at 5.15pm for the full fee of 45 euro. Upon registering you will receive a CAO number. Following that you may continue with your application or return to it at a later stage.
Go through the CAO handbook with a fine tooth comb. Highlight courses of interest or those you wish to query. Double-check the entry requirements for every course in which you have an interest. Some will require specific grades in specified subjects such as primary teaching or pharmacy and other courses, i.e., veterinary, requires chemistry.
Candidates can apply for up to 20 choices, 10 Level-8 Honours degrees courses available in both Universities and Institutes of Technology (IOT’s) and 10 Level 6 and 7, which are pass degree courses and are mostly available through the IOT’s. There is a pathway in all level 7 courses in Galway Mayo Institute to progess to honours degrees. While it may be popular advice to fill out all choices as a safety net, on the ground this is not always wise. Most students give a lot of thought to their first 3 choices and follow that with half- hearted notions. Every single imput on the CAO form should get serious examination or leave it out.
Guidance counsellors warn against “point’s snobbery.” Points are related largely to supply and demand. In recent years there has been discussion regarding institutions reducing supply to make the points higher. The idea would be to make them look more desirable; in a nutshell, the course is no different. Think about what you really want to study and where. Then one after the other in order of preference, input your other choices. The single most important factor is to enter your choices in view of genuine preference. If you have over 500 points and you opt to do an arts course, you can excel. Points are never wasted but they are quickly forgotten about. Ultimately it will be your character, experience, your ability, grit and sometimes even likeability that will get you places.
Back door options
Do not be automatically put off by high point entry courses. There are back door entry routes to many careers if there is will to go the extra mile both in Ireland and the U.K. One example includes physiotherapy which averages at 540 points. There are undergraduate courses in related areas in the IT’s in Carlow and Athlone that can bring you to your destination if you embark on a master’s programme thereafter. Many mature students use the access college route, the FETAC route and the mature entry route to reach their goals. Hard work and sacrifice here are as important as any other pre-requisite.
Your one to one meeting with your school guidance counsellor is crucial where you have a chance to process your ideas and flesh them out in a non- judgemental manner. While the cliché ‘Follow your heart’ has its merits, this needs to be well grounded with facts. At 17 years of age, passions change and develop and not everyone’s passion fits well into the world of work. If this is not possible that are many opportunities and lifelines that can fit your goals and desires with over 1, 400 courses on the CAO.