What’s next for the Leaving Cert class of 2021? As students continue with their studies, Guidance Counsellor Rory White from Careers Advice Northwest has advice on the next steps for CAO applications.
These are challenging and uncertain times for everyone with the country on lockdown again due to the pandemic, however, these feelings are magnified for the Leaving Certificate class of 2021.
Apart from not being in school and having to adjust to online learning (and all the difficulties associated with this), this year’s cohort are having to contend with so much uncertainty around what will be happening with the Leaving Certificate. Hopefully for the students and everyone else involved, minds will be put at rest at the earliest possible opportunity.
On top of all this uncertainty, the Leaving Cert class of 2021 are also busy trying to research courses and make college applications as they prepare to take the next step on their career paths. This can be challenging enough even during normal times and while schools and Guidance Counsellors are working hard to provide online support, there is a lot that students can do to ensure that important deadlines are not missed in the coming weeks.
Get the basics done
First things first- Get your application made. Go to www.cao.ie and click on Apply. The early bird rate of €30 ended January 20th at 5:15 pm, with the normal deadline (€45) on February 1st. This is also the final date for applying for Restricted Courses – those that require an audition, portfolio or assessment. After this date, late applications can still be made with the fee rising to €60 until May 1st, which is the final date that you can make an application.
Think of your CAO application as comprising of two parts-
- Registering your personal details
- Inserting your preferred courses
Where students will feel the most pressure is not knowing which courses to apply for. It is a common mistake for people to think that these decisions have to be made and finalised at the same time as you apply. This is not the case. Courses can obviously be added at this time, but they do not absolutely NEED to be (with the exception of restricted courses). Applicants can add/remove/shuffle their choices as many times as they like later on from early May right up until July 1st, so there is plenty of time to research your choices.
Know where to conduct your research
There are so many ways that students can find out more information about courses and careers. Careers Portal is an excellent resource and somewhere that a student can access so much information in the one place. They are linked with all the colleges and universities around the country and the website contains many useful research tools such as their CourseFinder, CareerExplorer, Event Calendar, News & Media Hub and Scholarship tool as well a comprehensive Leaving Certificate section.
College websites are also excellent sources of information in relation to what they have to offer prospective students.
There are also a few podcasts dedicated to the Leaving Certificate and careers advice such as 2FM’s LC21 with Carl Mullan and Donnchadh O Mahony’s excellent Leaving Cert Guidance Podcast.
The benefits of Social media
Social Media can often be a real enemy to a Leaving Cert student as a distraction from study. However, it is also a very rich space for career and college information. All institutions pay serious attention to their social media now, with many departments or even individual courses having their own dedicated channels. Students should take a few moments to search for their desired colleges and courses and add/follow them. Checking in on these on a regular basis will give a good flavour of the college or course.
In addition, there are many other related social media accounts that you can follow. Careers Portal have also begun posting a Weekly Checklist every Monday on their social media with information and key dates to keep you informed.
Get in touch
Schools have adapted well to online communications since the first lockdown in March. Students will have access to their Guidance Counsellors either through virtual classrooms or by email. If you are concerned about anything in relation to your career choices then you should make contact with your Guidance Counsellor through these channels.
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.
He also offers advice for students on careersportal.ie
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: