Going to college this September? Getting your CAO application right

By Anne Sexton - Last update

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If you are heading to college this year, now is the time to get cracking with your CAO application. If you register early, you can take advantage of a discounted CAO rate. Here we discuss some strategies to consider when applying for your college course.

Take your time

You don’t have to have made a final decision about courses before registering with the CAO. You can save your application and come back to update it whenever you are ready.

Don’t forget to check the CAO website’s student resource section. Make sure you understand the application process and ask your guidance counsellor for help if you are unsure of something.

Investigate grants and financial assistance

Don’t forget to see what kind of financial assistance you can apply for. This means that you should check the criteria and income thresholds for the SUSI grant and the HEAR (Higher Education Access Route) scheme. DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) also supports students with learning difficulties too. Make sure you check your eligibility for any and all financial supports and apply in good time.

List your preferences

You probably have a number of brochures and information sheets as well as bookmarked websites about various courses. No doubt you’ve also been thinking about college since Junior Cert. Follow these steps to whittle down your choices:

  • Firstly, you should re-read all brochures and information carefully
  • Weigh up the pros and cons of each. If you are choosing between similar courses at different colleges, write down what the similarities and differences are
  • Next consider the points associated with a course, and remember that these are subject to change
  • Be realistic about what points you are likely to achieve. Yes, you may be studying every day, and with hard work your final points will be fantastic, but it is also important to be realistic
  • Once you have done this, divide all the potential courses into two piles – one pile with all your preferred courses
  • Redo the above steps with the courses in your preferred pile
  • Finally, list these courses in order of preference

You may need to do this twice or more until you are finally satisfied that you know exactly what your first, second and third choices are. After all, you also need to consider how the college experience differs between institutions. Furhermore, if you are moving away from home for college, you will also need to take rent and living expenses into account.

It is also a good idea to speak to your guidance counsellor. Your guidance counsellor can discuss your options with you and help you clarify what courses will be best suited to your ambitions and skills.

Anne Sexton

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