The only way to evaluate whether a college is right for you is to explore all aspects of its life as fully as you can on its open day. Above, the  UCD Sutherland School of Law in UCD, Belfield. Photograph: David Sleator

Open Days give you a great chance to gauge how good a fit your course and college choice will be

Each year hospitality and tourism businesses  look to recruit over 6,000 entry-level employees across all areas of their operations. Photo: iStock

New online programme offers a wealth of advice over how to get started in the industry

What you need to know to make sure you take full advantage of your open day opportunity

Apprenticeships are expanding and offer brilliant opportunities to develop a wide range of skills. File photograph: iStockPhoto

Earn and learn: Apprenticeships offer great options in new areas such as financial services

Before making an application for a grant, it is worth visiting Susi’s website (susi.ie) to complete their eligibility reckoner. This allows students to quickly and easily self-assess whether they may or may not be eligible for a student grant. Photo: iStock

There are a range of assistance options, but they are subject to strict income limits

If you are uncertain about your course, you need to ask yourself do you genuinely want to spend the next three years working hard on those subjects? Photo: iStock

There can be heavy financial consequences depending on when you leave a course

There are shortages of qualified teachers in Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, along with Irish and home economics. Photograph: iStock

A shortage of qualified teachers in key subjects is a real problem across many schools

A total of 61,654 students who sat the Junior Cycle examinations in June can collect their results from their schools this morning and through the online examination results service on examinations.ie from 4pm. File photograph: Getty Images

Majority of subjects record a drop in the number of As awarded at Higher Level

While this year’s figures show greater participation across most higher level Junior Cert subjects, the number of students getting As is down significantly. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

More than 61,500 candidates sat English under new Junior Cycle reform framework

There are more than 50 medical programmes taught through English in the EU and recognised by the Irish Medical Council. Photograph: iStock

Many EU universities offer medical programmes through English

Encourage your child to engage fully in every transition year activity as, collectively, they awaken latent talents. Photograph: iStock

Transition year can be an amazing period of self-discovery for students

Round two offers are available to view on the CAO website from 6am on Thursday. Photograph: Getty images

Institutions in Dublin and Cork offer highest number of second-round courses

There are plenty of options available to those who take a different route and  explore other areas. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Is accepting a college place through the CAO today always the best option?

Many students enter college through the disability access support scheme (Dare) and receive a wide range of structured supports. File photograph: Getty Images

If you have a disability, don’t try to be a hero by trying to get by on your own

Susi provides assistance for approved full-time education in further education, higher education, postgraduate studies and, in some cases, students who wish to study outside of the State

Last year, about 40% of college applicants were entitled to financial assistance from Susi

 Caoimhe Andrews and Evie Byrne, Rathdown students celebrating Leaving Certificate results in Glenageary, Co Dublin. Photograph: Jason Clarke

CAO’s ‘vacant places’ list shows dozens of courses which may still accept applicants

Checking the CAO first round offers .Photograph: Cyril Byrne

All you need to know, from reviewing scripts to being wary of accommodation scams

Entry to the degree course in business and law in UCD is up nine points, to 529. Photograph: Alan Betson

Points have gone up for courses linked to growing economy

Securing the college place on offer is simplicity itself and will take less than a minute. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Weighing the options: there are three possible scenarios when you log into your CAO file

Carl O’Brien, education editor with The Irish Times, guidance counsellor Brian Howard, Minister for Education Richard Bruton, guidance counsellor Deirdre Garrett and Irish Times journalist Éanna Ó Caollaí. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Leaving Cert 2017: Further education colleges offer a diverse array of programmes

The changes introduced to the Leaving Cert in these three core subjects over recent years, such as the allocation of 40 per cent of marks for the oral Irish component, and the awarding of bonus points in maths, has resulted in substantial increases in higher level participation Photograph: Cyril Byrne

New grading system sees major increases in higher-level participation

If you are unhappy with a particular grade in any subject in the Leaving Cert, or if there is an identifiable error in the results you got, the State Examinations Commission (SEC) will give you whatever supports you need to rectify the problem. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Viewing all scripts allows students to find the subject with the best chance of an upgrade

When your points score is calculated, you can apply it to the courses you have listed on your CAO application. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

If your grade falls below your expectation you can request a review of the scripts

Most schools announce in advance what time they will be distributing the Leaving Cert results, in individual envelopes to each candidate. Photograph: Getty Images

New grading system and CAO points structure may cause confusion

 Confidence in property is further reflected in an increase in application numbers for law, where conveyancing transactions are the bedrock of many legal firms’ income stream

Recovery in property has driven demand for places in architecture and construction

A total of 80,345 individuals applied to the CAO this year, of whom approximately 46,000 took the Leaving Cert in June 2017.

First places to be offered to applicants such as those who deferred and mature students

If you have just completed your Leaving Cert do not be spooked into removing course choices based on your perceptions of how you may have performed in the exams. Photograph: Getty Images

Decision time for CAO applicants

If at the end you still have a few minutes left, you can try to increase your mark by at least 5 per cent. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Read Brian Mooney's simple tips for helping you get the most out of your exams

Recent decision to increase nursing undergraduate places should ease some of the pressure facing aspiring nurses. Photograph: iStock

Recent decision to increase undergraduate numbers should ease some of the pressure

The lure of an immediate wage in areas like hairdressing may be tempting, but it is worth considering the long-term benefit of an internationally recognised award. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: A formal qualification will make it easier to advance in Ireland or abroad

As soon as your exams are over  you’ll have just over a week to finalise your list of course choices. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Advice on how to approach the CAO process and how to get your course choice right

Keep on top of it. Photograph: iStock

Keep on top of your college application process with this calendar of crucial dates

The litmus test is what will motivate you to get out of bed on a cold morning next winter. Photograph: iStock

If you’re not sure about your choices, you have until July 1st to rectify the situation

Limerick billionaire JP McManus is to spend €32 million on third-level scholarships for more than 1,000 students from less well-off backgrounds. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

All-Ireland programme open to 125 less well-off students annually over next decade

There are a range of online tools to help students explore their course interests. Photograph: iStock

Online tools can help students identify suitable courses based on their interests

Students should be mindful that some third-level courses have minimum subject entry requirements. Photo: iStock

Be careful: some third-level courses have minimum subject entry requirements

Business graduates will develop a set of generic skills which they can apply throughout their working lives in any career area. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

One in every six 2017 CAO applicants for a level 8 degree lists a business course as their first option

It is possible to apply for a place on a primary school degree programme in Northern Ireland or the UK, and teach in the Republic. Photograph: iStock

It is possible to do so, but he may have conditions attached to his registration

There are a variety of pathways to become a physiotherapist. An increasingly popular option is studying abroad through English. Photograph: iStock

There are alternatives including degrees through English in the Netherlands

If you’ve been studying for the past few weeks and feel that you are losing the energy or motivation to keep to your programme, ask for help. Photograph: iStock

Top tips on how to keep your motivation for study going until your exams this summer

Irish colleges set out criteria for prospective US students which includes an expectation that they have completed a minimum number of years studying set subjects. Photo: iStock

Irish colleges have detailed entry criteria for prospective US students

Orals now account for 40 per cent of the overall marks in Irish.  Photo: iStock

A decent performance in the oral exam will go a long way to meeting entry requirements

Exams scripts for the mocks exams are a vital source of learning ahead of the State exams in June. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire

Ask Brian: Student should get advice from teachers who are experts in their subjects

The intersection between finance and technology has undergone a huge shift which is changing the face of the financial services landscape. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Postgraduate course can bolster skills and competencies relevant to a broad range of occupations

With more than 40 per cent of undergrads going on to postgrad, careers offices in colleges are crucial in advising undergraduates of their options. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Ask yourself what the type of programme you wish to follow: research or taught

Higher levels of education increase employability as well as salary. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Research shows higher levels of education increase your employability as well as salary

A conversion course can be a good option for students who want to move into a new area where they do not have previous experience. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

If you wish to alter your career path, a conversion course might be the right option

There are a wide variety of routes into the world of business other than through the CAO. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The new apprenticeships in accounting and insurance offer great on-the-job training

This September will see new specifications for Irish, art and the four modern foreign language subjects being introduced

Ask Brian: Reforms aim to provide broader snapshot of students’ achievements and skills

When your daughter realises that chatting 24-7 could lead to her failing to secure the grades she needs to be close to her boyfriend next year, it may have a dramatic impact on her outlook. Photograph: iStock

Final course choices are six months away – an eternity in the life of an 18-year-old

Maynooth: At the Co Kildare university, 53 per cent of students receive Susi grants. Photograph: Eric Luke

Financial obstacles may be driving students away from further education and training

Many students who have narrowly missed out on medicine take the Hpat again in an attempt to increase their points. Photograph: Getty

Taking the Hpat again is an option but beware the hefty financial implications

Students thinking of dropping out of their course must act quickly to avoid incurring hefty charges. Photograph: iStock

If he withdraws before February 1st he will avoid clocking up significant charges

Health insurance policies for persons under the age of 55 usually have a waiting period of 26 weeks in which no claims can be made. Photo: iStock

Insurance for student visas is determined by the Garda National Immigration Bureau

Trinity College Dublin. Insurers have been told international students based in the State for more than a year are required to take out full health cover, which can cost up to €1,000

New measure a ‘big blow’ for Government plans to attract more students from abroad

Properly researched, everyone can find the course or career path which suits them. Photograph: Getty Images

Still confused? There’s no need to panic. You can finalise your choices up until July 1st

Prospective students who think they may be eligible for a grant should research their options by visiting Susi’s website. Photograph: Getty

Applications to awarding authority open in April but students should do homework now

Most colleges participate in Dare and Hear schemes, but even the ones that don’t offer a range of supports, including disability support services. Photograph: Getty

Reduced points places and extra college support are available for some applicants

Leaving Cert applicants for medical courses have a one-in-six chance of success, so don’t spent too much time on Hpat preparations. Photograph: iStock

Focus on sample papers which are provided as part of your registration fee

 UCD campus in Belfield:  it is normal for mature students to feel apprehensive about applying for college. Photograph: Alan Betson

About 12,000 mature students are set to apply for college courses this year

Register your intention now to seek a CAO college place

Register now but you can hold off making your final choices until the end of June

“The most important thing to consider is what subject matter you most enjoy engaging with in school.” Photograph: Eric Luke

It is vital for students to choose carefully in order to avoid possibility of dropping out

Growing number of students take up offers of European courses taught through English

Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Timeline for the 2017 college application process

Don’t have a clue what to do after the Leaving? Don’t panic, you don’t have to decide on the rest of your life, just what you will do for the next few years. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Wnen it comes to choice, don’t be overwhelmed by the challenge of choosing what you do next

A  points scale  based on the new Leaving Cert grading system comes into force this year and now is the time to plan. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

A reduction in the artificially inflated range of choices would lead to lower drop-out rates

Consider your options: Once you have decided on your course or area of study you should consider whether you want to study in Ireand or further afield. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Register now with the CAO, but you have until July 1st to make a final decision on your course preferences

 It is eminently possible for mature students to secure a degree with the right  preparation. Photograph: iStock

You need to prepare yourself for the task ahead in order to succeed

“Fulfilment in teaching comes primarily through engagement with your students and not in monetary terms.” Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA

Ask Brian: Anyone who secures a teaching qualification has skills for a wide range of jobs

Most students  are in a constant state of flux regarding their current career and future aspirations. Photograph: iStock

There’s no need to panic. Career choices are one step on a long and evolving journey

For a school where the numbers taking the Leaving Cert remain relatively constant, we can deduct 22 per cent from their published progression rate to calculate the true progression rate of the 2016 class. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Schools with dramatically falling numbers can have grossly inflated progression rates

Each year the tables show very large numbers of students who go to college attended schools in socially advantaged communities, and that they tend to opt predominantly for universities and teacher training. Photograph: iStock

Explaining the progression charts of Irish secondary schools

Science and technology are relevant to business, geography, art, home economics, sport, music and even language students. Photograph: iStock

It’s important to show students that science isn’t confined to the laboratory

Be sure to do your research on  admission policies when choosing a school for your children. Photograph: iStock

Admission criteria can make it difficult to get places in over-subscribed schools

Veterinary science in UCD is a high points course. Photograph: iStock

If you want to be a vet, you must have practical experience

Before you commit to any course, be sure to enquire about what protection is in place in case  it ceases to operate. Photo: iStock

All colleges are obliged to inform you about what kind of protection they provide

Make sure you inspect the facilities at your institution of choice. Photograph: iStockphoto.

You’ll be spending several years of your life at college. Open days give you a chance to assess how good a fit your choices could (...)

Cost of living: Make sure you can afford to live close to the colleges you selected. Photograph: Frank Miller

There is more to consider than the curriculum of the courses you are considering

As a result of the new Leaving Certificate grades, in 2017 the universities and Institutes of Technology will also introduce revised basic matriculation requirements.

School leavers who cannot get chosen course in Ireland may find the solution abroad

Student sitting the Leaving Cert exam: a new CAO points system aimed at easing the pressure is due to come into force next summer. Photograph: Eric Luke

Those who obtained D1 grade are to be eligible for entry to honours degree courses

Many parents are concerned that their children may lose out due to industrial action. Above, teachers on strike outside a secondary school. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Try to mimic the structure and variety of a typical school day at home

Deferring a new college place is often the best option this late into the academic year. Above, students check their CAO results online. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Deferring a new college place is often the best option this late into the academic year

The Garda says  online vetting has a turnaround time of five or six days. Unfortunately this process is not yet in place in many third-level institutions. Photo: iStock

Many students are affected by child protection checks for some third-level courses

Teachers cause themselves needless stress by micromanaging students rather than encouraging more self-directed learning. Photograph: istock

A teacher lacking zest might look at how skills acquired can be used elsewhere

The Dare scheme offers reduced points places to school leavers who, as a result of having a disability, have experienced additional educational challenges.

Ask Brian: The Dare scheme offers reduced points places to school-leavers with disabilities

Brexit is unlikely to adversely affect the study plans of students in both  Ireland and the UK who wish to commence studies outside their home country in 2017.  Image: Getty

Changes are unlikely in the coming year, but beyond that it is hard to say

From 2017 onwards, everybody who ever sat the Leaving Cert will have their results reclassified according to the new State Exams Commission (SEC) grading system. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Gains in some subjects will be cancelled out by losses in others for most students

The difficulties for the ASTI in securing compliance with directives has been compounded in recent weeks by the decision of a significant number of non-union or former ASTI teachers in voluntary secondary schools to transfer to membership of the TUI. File photograph: Getty Images

Increased uptake in optional Irish oral raises questions for union members

Many students and parents choose courses based on the CAO points capacity of the student, the perceived attractiveness of the career itself, where their friends are going, and a range of other factors

It is too late to defer, but taking a year out to consider other options is a good idea

Image: iStock

School principals are interpreting the relevant legislation in different ways

There are plenty of opportunities for young students who did not get their course offer of choice. Photograph: Getty Images

There are other routes to third level if you didn’t get your choice of college offer

Jenny Luke and Annie Hewitt from Dalkey check the CAO first round offers last year. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Latest offers reflect move to business, technology and construction courses

Many colleges will have orientation days which are well worth attending

“We have an acute accommodation shortage and accommodation affordability crisis in Ireland which is the single biggest disrupter of prospective students securing the lifelong benefits of a college experience.” File photograph: Getty Images

Key issues: Where to live and how to afford cost of accommodation and maintenance

If you did not get the CAO offer you hoped for, there are other ways to get onto a course

CAO ‘Available Places’, private colleges, study abroad and FE colleges are some options

Some students are very happy with CAO offers of college places, others less so, as they may feel differently about what to study. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

CAO: There will be winners and losers in recalculation of points in 2017

The biggest increase in demand for  third-level places has been in the construction-related sector. Photograph: Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images

Points drop across the board for arts and social science degrees

Emma Palmer , and Sadhbh Dalton celebrate getting their exam results, at Muckross Park College , Donnybrook, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

Weighing the options: there are three possible scenarios when you log into your CAO file

Apprentices typically combine college days and academic training with real work experience. Photograph: Getty.

From accountancy to construction, the choice of apprenticeships is expanding to meet a growing demand

A construction engineer at work. “Based on our analysis of the numbers applying for each course type by the July 1st closing date, we again expect an increase in points in business, construction and technology programmes, reflecting people’s confidence in the strength of the economic recovery.” File photograph: Getty Images

CAO offers: Higher demand for business, construction, technology and nursing this year

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