Understanding the CAO

The CAO is more formerly known as the worst nightmare of any Irish Leaving Cert student. "How do you fill it out? How often can you make changes? How many courses should you shove in?" are just a few of the most commonly asked CAO questions, and although common, it can be pretty hard to find all the answers you need. Don't worry though - today I'm giving you guys a lowdown on how the CAO actually works, and some tips and tricks to perfecting your application before July 1

Level 7 vs Level 8

As you all (hopefully) know, when you fill out your CAO you have the option to enter Level 7 and Level 8 courses. The main difference between these is the level of the degree you'll obtain following the course. Level 7 courses present you with the opportunity to earn an ordinary degree, whilst level 8 courses are honours degree courses. Just because one course offers you a higher degree than the other doesn't necessarily mean that it's the better option for you. Level 7 courses tend to bridge the gap between second and third level education, while level 8 courses can be a bit more of a jump, and so students are often thrown into the deep end. While a level 8 degree may be preferable for some people, either way you can progress from a level 7 to a level 8 to attain this. When first round offers are made available, usually students will have to make a choice between which course they want if they have met entry requirements for both

Ordering your choices

To this day students still order their courses based on the points they predict that they'll get as opposed to the courses they actually want to do. It is so important to put your courses in order of preference on the CAO. If you reach the entry requirements of your first choice, you will not be allowed to choose your second. The only choice you can make is between your first level 8 choice and your first level 7 choice. Simples? Kind of

Know the actual deadlines and the hidden ones

Okay, so I guess this is pretty important. You can change your CAO up until the first of July. So basically you have until after the exams to figure it all out. The only catch is that the free of charge change of mind only opens on May 5th, so try waiting until then to sort it all out, unless you're opting for a restricted entry course, in which case you're going to have to suck it up and dosh out the money. And of course if you make a mistake, or if you have a sudden change of heart after the final change of mind deadline then don't worry. Up until a certain date you can still change your mind by posting back the docket with your choices written on it. You can't add a new course in but you can change the order. Just give the CAO a call and they'll let you know all the deets!

Having a Third Language for University

Okay, so this is a tricky one to avoid however Maynooth University has recently become the first university in Ireland to accept students that haven't studied a third language. The only other way around it is by taking up your Junior Cert language and giving it a go at ordinary level - but don't worry, Institutes of Technology accept students without imposing a language requirement

Until next time,

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