Important factors to take into account when deciding on your CAO.


Making the right choice on your CAO - what to take into account when choosing a course?


For many students filling out your CAO can be quite a daunting task, at such a young age how are you supposed to know what you want to do with your life? Giving the current economy college seems like the best option, jobs are becoming increasingly harder to come by and to stand a chance at getting one you need a good education, but many students are choosing colleges for the wrong reasons, all my friends are going there, it has the best night life, it’s closest to home. While everyone will consider these factors, they should not become the basis for such a huge decision.

So what should you consider?

Firstly if you have your heart set on something that you have always wanted to study, remember that! do your research and find the best college that has the course and that works best for you, it is great to get advice from others that have done the course before you, but remember everyone has a different opinion on courses and what one person loves may not necessarily be the right choice for you.

When choosing what to put on my CAO I honestly didn’t think enough about it, I was one of those who just wanted to get away from school and start college straight away, looking back I wish I had taken a year out to really think about what I wanted to study. If you know what you want to do, that’s great, if like me you don’t have a clue I will offer you some advice.

Think about what you enjoy, look at your hobbies?

What are your strengths? Do you pick up languages easy? Are you creative? Are you great with computers? Knowing this can really help you when it comes to choosing what to do.

Take into account your weaknesses, if you struggled with languages in school it makes sense to avoid these during college, that been said don’t let your weakness deter you from doing something you really want to do. I was never good at maths and really struggled with it for my leaving cert, I loved computers and was always very quick to pick up new programs, however I received advice from someone to avoid a computer course in college because they would be very maths based, looking back I wish I had ignored them and went with my gut.

This brings me on to my next point, if you find a course you like the sound of, do your research! Get in contact with past students, look up the college prospectus, email the course co-ordinator and ask for a list of the subjects you will study, this will be extremely beneficial to you as the reason most students drop out of college is because their course wasn’t what they expected, at least this way you can avoid any surprises.

Another point I will make is not to let a course with low points put you off, it does not mean the course is of a bad quality it is merely a reflection on the number of applicants, in addition don’t let a course will high points scare you either, if you really want it put it down, even if you think you don’t stand a chance of getting it, you never know!

The internet is a fantastic recourse when trying to figure out the right course for you, be sure to take a look at the different career areas you can enter into with your degree, I know if seems like ages away yet but take it from me those 3-4 years will be the quickest of your life and at least you will have an idea of your options after college.

Websites like gradIreland and are great for taking a look at various career paths from different degrees.

My final piece of advice would be to see your career’s advisor while you can, they know their stuff and if you don’t know what direction to go in they can certainly help you figure it out. They have experience of dealing with tons of students all in the same situation over the years and they will more than willing to help you.


By Louise Dillon