It’s a busy time of the year for students and parents as the deadline for CAO approaches. Students all across the region are making their decisions as to their choices for third level as the 1st February CAO date approaches.
Many Guidance Counsellors in the area have seen their hours decimated as a result of the education cuts of 2011. Yet these same people are working hard with their students to help them on an individual and on a group basis to come to the decisions that best suit them.
Students can apply for up to 10 Honours degrees programmes or what are better known as Level 8 courses. They can also apply for 10 Ordinary degree programmes also known as Level 7. Some of the programmes in this section are also at Level six or Higher Certificate courses.
Students must apply for their CAO courses in order of preference. This is vital in the understanding of the CAO process. They apply for the course they really want to do first and then move on to their second preference and can apply for up to the ten courses on both the Level 8 and Level 7 sections.
Students are reminded that they must apply for a restricted course by 1st February. These are courses that may require an interview or aptitude test or portfolio assessment. If a student forgets to apply for these courses they can use a change of mind form which comes in to operation from 5th February. They can use this change of mind form to add in their restricted course. They have until 1st March to complete this change of mind form.
The main change of mind process commences on 1st May and ends on 1st July. This means that students can change their mind on any course they have applied for and apply for entirely new courses over that two month period. The change of mind process from 1st May to 1st July costs nothing.
The Leaving Cert results are due out on August 13th the CAO offers will be out on 19th August.
The CAO students the highest course on their preference list that matches their points. Thus it is vital that students apply for the course that they really want rather than the course they think they are going to get.
Students must also apply for the Higher Education Access or Hear scheme by 1st February. This scheme allows students get in to some Universities on reduced points. Not all students qualify for this scheme. Please talk to your Guidance counsellor for advice on this. Should a student qualify for the scheme certain documents must be sent to the CAO by 1st April.
Students with disabilities are also asked to fill out a supplementary Information form. This is done online with the CAO form when the student indicates they have a disability on the form. The supplementary form also allows students apply for the DARE scheme which allows students with disabilities gain entry to colleges on a reduced points basis. Students must indicate they want to be considered for the Dare and NON Dare scheme.
Guidance counsellors have been helping students over the past 12 months to prepare for these schemes. Students with disabilities must also supply necessary documentation with the CAO by 1st April. The documentation required can be obtained from any Guidance counsellor or disability or access officer of any third level college.
Students will apply for their education grant through SUSI from the beginning of May. Guidance counsellors will be available during that month to help their students apply for these grants.
Thus it’s a busy time for everyone. The main advice to all students and parents is not to panic. Help is always on hand from the Guidance Counsellor.