Having been through the rigmarole myself, I do feel I have some advice that could be useful for the Leaving Certs who have to deal with the dreaded CAO this summer.
1. Use the ‘Change of Mind’ period
Even if you decided back in December what course you want to do and still feel the same, make sure you use this time to review your choices. Read through the course description again despite the fact that you can already say it off by heart. Do some research into other courses and colleges that you previously had ignored. I’m not saying to confuse yourself but use this opportunity to see if there are other routes you would consider.
2. Think positive
Even if you’re 99% sure that you wouldn’t get the points for your dream course STILL PUT IT DOWN. Who knows Granny’s candles might succeed and see you ending up with a whole lot more points than expected. And I’m sure there is nothing more sickening than having enough points to do your ideal course but being unable to because its not on your CAO.
3. Review the CAO
You should be absolutely sick of seeing the CAO by the time it closes. Double and triple check your choices and then double and triple check them again. Make sure the course code is right, make sure you haven’t put your first choice fifth or made some other silly mistake.
4.Fill the CAO
DO NOT just put down one, two or three choices on your CAO. Try your best to fill the form. Remember that every college in Ireland has a similar variety of courses but that each college expects a different amount of points, meaning that you will be able to do some variation of your course of choice somewhere in the country. Be smart and fill your CAO with courses that you actually want to do so that if all comes to all and you only get offered your tenth choice then you’re still happy to do it.
5. Remember that it’s not the be all and end all
Yes the Leaving Cert and the CAO are important and have definitely played an all consuming role in your lives this year but there is life after the CAO. If you do not get your top choice and would prefer to dive head first off the Cliffs of Moher than repeat then you still have the option of doing another course that you showed interest in. You never know you might love this course more than you imagined and even if you dislike it you can struggle through and do a masters in another area. Colleges nowadays are also very lenient towards first years changing courses for a few weeks in semester one so look into that if you feel unhappy in your choice. Remember it all works out in the end.