This column with Career Guidance Counsellor Rory White looks at the CAO Change of Mind process – the deadline is fast approaching!
With the cancellation of the Leaving Certificate putting all thoughts of education to the back of students’ minds this past number of weeks, it is easy to forget about your CAO application. However, with the CAO Change of Mind option closing very shortly (1st July at 5:15pm) now is the time to review your application in order to ensure that you have it right.
There are several things that you should consider:
I finalised my application months ago. Why should I look at it again now?
Most students will have made use of the early application discount by applying to CAO back before mid-January. However, if you cast your mind back to those pre-covid days, students were in the throes of a hectic final year, busy preparing for the mocks and working hard towards the Leaving Certificate. It can be difficult to think about anything else at this time and often students do not have enough clarity to ensure they have entered the right courses for them in their application. Thankfully with the cancellation of the Leaving Cert, your mind should be free now to think more clearly about your next step.
Ok, so what factors should I consider when choosing my courses?
Do- Choose courses that match your interests and aptitudes.
Do- Place your courses in order of preference.
Do- Consider all levels of courses: 6, 7 & 8.
Do- Ensure you have back-up courses listed.
Do- Include a course close to home somewhere on your list
Don’t- Focus too much on points. A common problem among applicants is that many feel the need to match courses to the points they expect to receive. Just because you expect to get 450+ points doesn’t mean that you will be ‘wasting’ them by choosing a course at 300 points.
Don’t- Put all your eggs in one basket. Back a Level 8 course up with a Level 6 or 7 in the same area.
Don’t- Apply to a college just because your friends are going there or because you have heard the nightlife is particularly good. The important thing is to ensure you will be studying the right course.
Where can I get more information?
There is a wealth of information out there for you, to answer any questions that you may still have. Careers Portal and Qualifax are excellent resources that most students should be familiar with. College prospectuses and websites are also full of information on the courses they offer.
Finally, in the run-up to the Change of Mind deadline many colleges are running online information sessions, ‘Live Chats’ and virtual open days to help answer any questions you might have.
For more information on the change of mind process check out the CAO website- http://www.cao.ie/index.php?page=aboutCOM
Have there been any changes to the courses that I can apply for?
High or low demand for courses and labour market trends mean that there are always changes to the courses that colleges offer each year. Very often there may be new courses added and sometimes courses can also be discontinued. These changes can all be found in the CAO Alert List, applicants should check these lists in order to keep themselves informed. There are also some ‘Restricted Courses’ such as some Art, Music courses which require portfolios/tests that it is now too late to apply for this year.
Can I change the order of my courses and add more choices in?
Yes, this is essentially what the Change of Mind function is for. If you want to add a new course or change the order of the courses you have selected then you will need to re-submit the whole list in your new preferred order. Remember again that you can choose up to 10 courses on the Level 8 list and another 10 on the Level 6/7 list. The more courses you include, the more options you will have if you do not get your first choices.
I didn’t get around to applying. Am I too late?
Unfortunately, the cut-off date for final applications was back in May. However, every year colleges will make the courses that they have not fully filled available for you to apply for on the ‘Available Places’ facility. These courses are generally posted a few days after the first round offers have been released. Any applicant, including new applicants, can then apply for these available courses.
Rory has been a Guidance Counsellor at Finn Valley College for the past 10 years and is a member of the Donegal Branch of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors.
Applying for college or changing careers is one of the most important and exciting decisions someone can make, and Rory will be here to offer advice and top tips on the many options that are available.Tags: