Aoife Walsh with the Independent.ie looks at the options for changing your CAO choices - the deadline is July 1st!
The Leaving Cert exams are in full swing. It is likely that the past week has presented some challenges and perhaps even moments of upset. However, many households will also be surprised how the exams have quickly become the new normal. Just as quickly, they will be over and households all over the country will breathe a collective sigh of relief.
 
By the end of this week most students will have completed all their exams or will have just one more left. With this in mind, many will return to the CAO and finalise their choices before the end of the change of mind period on July 1.
 
July 1 is the very last deadline for applicants to make any changes to their CAO preference lists. Applicants are free to add or remove courses for which they would like to be considered. They may also change their order of preference, moving courses to higher or lower positions on their Level 8 and Level 7/6 lists.
 
Whatever is listed on the CAO form at the end of the change of mind period (5:15pm on July 1) will be an applicant's final choice and the CAO will make offers based on this choice in August. Applicants may log in and out of their CAO application as many times as they wish before this deadline and make as many changes as they wish. However, all changes should be well considered and it is essential that applicants do not make drastic changes as a result of how they may feel the exams went.
 
An applicant's CAO form should still contain their dream course at number one of the preference list even if they feel you are unlikely to achieve the exam results to gain entry. The first couple of slots should be reserved for the courses an applicant wants more than any other. The middle section of the list may be used for courses which are more realistic but will assist an applicant in reaching their career goals. Finally, applicants should reserve a couple of spaces on the list for banker courses, i.e those courses that they know they will gain access to even if the exams don't go the applicant's way.
 
This is an excellent time for an applicant to review all the courses that they have listed; it is an opportunity to ensure that they will still be happy if they receive an offer for any of them.
 
It is also essential to review the CAO alert lists to see if any of the courses listed have been cancelled. Now is an excellent opportunity to remove these courses from the list and use these spaces for others. Additionally check for courses which have been released by colleges in recent weeks and months. These courses will be available for application but were not finalised in time to make it into the CAO handbook.
 
Finally, applicants should ensure that they use up as many places on their CAO preference list as possible. The CAO cannot make an offer if the courses are not listed in an applicant's preference list. However, applicants can always turn down an offer if they feel it is not for them. Best of luck with the next steps.
 
Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin