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Facing the CAO

Ben takes a look at things to consider before you choose your CAO courses


Written by Ben Ryan and posted in opinion


This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact editor@spunout.ie.


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CAO is a daunting thing for everyone in 6th year. It is the first time it really hits you about how real Leaving Cert is. The first few months don’t really have much impact until you get to filling out your CAO.

First things first, try to go to as many college open days as you possibly can, even if you don’t think you will go to the college, it may impress you on the day. When you are there make sure to pick up all the literature you can that has anything you might have the slightest interest in. If you have a guidance counsellor in your school or know anyone who may have done their leaving cert last year, do try to meet with them early on so you can discuss various elements of the CAO you mightn’t be too sure about.

I’m sure many of you reading this will have some sort of draft CAO filled out but for those of you who haven’t gotten to that stage here are some important dates that you need to be aware of.

  • CAO opens on the 5th of November every year at 12 noon
  • CAO account creation closes on the 1st of February (Sign up before this date)
  • CAO closes entirely on the 1st of March for about 2 months
  • On the 5th of May, the Change of Mind option opens and closes July 1st
  • CAO Offers start rolling out in August

So for the first few months of 6th year before things get too hectic, make it your business to read about the courses and colleges that might interest you, talk to people you know who have done CAO before and who might be in a course you have an interest in.

Make sure to check the basic entry requirements for the courses you're interested in. This information will be in the college course brochures. Generally colleges require that you have results in Irish and English as well as the necessary points. Some courses also require certain results in other subjects, most science courses require at least one science subject and language courses obviously require a second language.

I think people can fall suspect to a dangerous sort of peer pressure most of us don’t even think about. College isn’t for everyone and if you aren’t sure what sort of thing you might be interested in, don’t copy what your friends are putting on their CAO. College is a fantastic new phase in life but it does cost quite a lot of money for whoever has to pay so if you’re going to accept an offer make sure it’s one you actually want to do.

Also don’t get hung up about going to one of the big colleges like UCC, UCD or Trinity. If GMIT or CIT have a course that really interests you pick it. They’re just as good at some things as the major colleges are at others.

There are also plenty of PLC courses and level 7 courses offered throughout the country that may interest you. Don’t knock them for not being a level 8 college degree because a level 7 in WIT might suit you better than anything offered in UCD.

What I’m trying to get at is there is a huge choice out there. So just read up as much as you can on any courses you think may interest you because in reality there is plenty of time to chop and change your CAO.

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Published January 21st, 2016
Last updated February 26th, 2016
Tags cao college
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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