It’s that time of year again when students start to set their sights beyond the Leaving Certificate and begin to make their applications to the colleges and universities around Ireland and beyond.
Guidance Counsellor Rory White from Careers Advice Northwest shares this advice on CAO applications:
CAO opens today for applications for entry to college in September 2022 and this year for the first time their website will contain a dedicated page with links to Further Education and Apprenticeships. This has been done to increase awareness of the different options available to school leavers. Students should note however that Further Education and Apprenticeship applications will not be processed by CAO. Those looking to apply to these options will still have to apply via the usual channels of www.fetchcourses.ie and www.apprenticeship.ie.
Students looking to apply to CAO should look to make their application as soon as possible in order to avail of the discounted registration fee of €30, available until 5.15 PM on January 20th. After this date the cost rises to the standard fee of €45, until 5:15 PM on February 1st. (Late Registration opens in early March for a €60 fee).
Students should note that it is enough for now to simply register your application. Your course choices do not have to be inputted at this stage.
To apply to CAO, go to www.cao.ie and click on ‘Apply’. Potential applicants are advised to consult the CAO Handbook for all the important application information. An online Flipbook version of the CAO Handbook has been produced this year.
Put plenty of thought into your course choices
Unfortunately, every year there are students that drop out of college early when they realise the course they applied for isn’t what they imagined it would be. The potential for this situation to happen to you can be lessened if you take your time and thoroughly research the colleges & courses that you put on your CAO application. There are quite a number of things that you can and should do to become better informed.
Attend Open Days (both on-campus and online)
It’s great to see that colleges are starting to hold on-campus events again, nothing beats being there! Locally, IT Sligo and LYIT will shortly host their on-campus Open Days on the 11th November and 18th November respectively. Other Open Days are taking place at colleges across the country, check out the Events Calendar on Careers Portal for these. Covid hasn’t brought us too many advantages, but what it has done is force us to make more use of online platforms. College marketing departments now run a huge array of virtual events such as open days, college tours, webinars, talks and live Q&A sessions to get their information across to interested students. Most of the time the recordings of these are then uploaded onto their websites. Students (and parents) should tune into these for a closer look at what they have to offer.
Harness the power of Social Media
All students should also pay attention to the social media streams from the colleges and other career guidance accounts. Spend some time to follow them on their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, while many of them are now also on TikTok. These pages are often very active and allow students to see in more detail what a college is like and what a course entails. Many individual subject departments even have their own social media streams so the information available to you can be quite bespoke if you take the time to look.
Don’t be lazy with your course choice!
Some students can be a little lazy and only look at the title of the course. They like the sound of it and stick it down on their application. To leave things like that is extremely foolish. Students should go deeper and find out as much as they can about what the course involves before committing to it. There is so much more information you can gather about a career area, and the courses you can study to get there, and there are many ways students can do this.
Where should I look for more information?
Careers Portal has all of the information that a student needs when researching a career area. Their CourseFinder has over 4,000 courses listed, each one is clearly explained and will contain links to any related information, news and video content for that course. It also has an easy to use filter system which allows you to quickly whittle down your options and find the courses that are best suited to you.
They also have over 1,000 careers profiled with everything you need to know about what the career involves, the type of person suited to it, how you can enter the career, what the pay is like and even what the job prospects are like. There are lots of videos and career stories and then links to the courses that lead into these careers.
Take a closer look…
Of course, college prospectuses and their websites are also must visits for any interested student when they know what area they would like to study. These will help students to really ‘drill down’ into the courses and allow them to find out more. When you find a course of interest to you, there are a few key things to look for. Look closely at the modules taught in the course, read what they are about, are they mandatory or elective? Do you know if there is a work experience element built into the course? Will you have the opportunity to travel as a part of your course?
Use your own network…
Everyone applying to college should try to get as much information as they can from the people who have been there and done that. Talk to your guidance counsellor in school, ask them questions or if they know anything else about a course. Maybe talk to some of your teachers, they can often know you quite well and what you may be suited to. Many of you will also know someone who has either been to or is still at college who could have some little nuggets of good information for you. Ask them what they think of it, what is the best part about it, what is the hardest part of it, have they any advice for you. Talk to your parents, friends and relations, they can often know you better than you know yourself!
The more information you gather, the better decision you will be able to make. It is YOUR choice at the end of the day and it is important for you to be your own person and try to make a rounded judgement of your own. Just because someone says they love or hate the course, might not mean the same for you. Take what they are saying on board but keep this in mind.
Finally, some other key considerations to think about.
There are also some extremely important questions that you should give due consideration to-
- Do you want to study close to home or would you prefer to move away?
- What will the financial implications be? Fees, accommodation costs, etc
- What are your career prospects likely to be when you finish?
Selecting the course you will be studying next year is quite a big decision, and big decisions should be given time and really should not be rushed into. Put the time and effort into it and hopefully it will all be very worthwhile, you owe this to yourself. Best of luck!
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: