CAO Application Process

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When applying for entry onto a third-level course at any of the universities, colleges or ITs students need to do it through the CAO. Applicants can apply on either a written or online form. The CAO application is relatively straightforward but it is important to pay attention to the guidelines and meet the deadlines.

As a parent you should maybe take the role of checking over the forms once your child has completed them, just to ‘double-check’ they have filled everything in correctly and done exactly what is required. The most important part of the form is the Course Choices section. Each category has ten spaces for course choices and it is recommended that applicants fill in all ten spaces on each list in order of course preference.

The point of this is so that in August, following the release of the Leaving Cert results, students wishing to gain a place at a third-level college, IT or university may be offered a place on a course they want and which they have earned enough points to do.  For those students who do not get enough points in their Leaving Cert to get onto a course they want there are still a few alternative options.

Some decide to do a FETAC course which can lead them onto a degree programme at a university, college or IT the following year. Another common option is to repeat the Leaving Cert. More than 3, 000 students repeat the Leaving Cert every year. The majority of these students repeat because they are unhappy with the results they gained the first time around, and feel they can do better. is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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