CAO 2017: Should I accept my CAO offer?

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

Checking the CAO first round offers .Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Checking the CAO first round offers .Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

If you accepted a college place this week, then congratulations are in order. You will receive a pack from the institution in question with details of how to register with it.

It is essential that you follow the instructions precisely, particularly where a range of optional modules are offered on a first-come, first-served basis as part of the registration process – for example, third subject options in arts degrees where the first two subjects are chosen at application stage.

For the thousands of students who will be living away from home while attending their undergraduate course, you are more than likely in a frantic dash to secure accommodation for the coming academic year.

Many colleges offer on-campus accommodation to incoming first years, but there is never sufficient supply to meet the demand, which can be very distressing.

There has been much media coverage in recent weeks concerning scams involving individuals falsely claiming to have accommodation to let. Never part with money until you have received a set of keys for the property and have used them to inspect the property. You will have contractual rights, which registered landlords will have no difficulty in observing, so ensure that any offer of accommodation is legitimate and above board.

Some callers to the Irish Times helpdesk (www.irishtimes.com/cao2017) are accepting second- or third-choice offers – and hoping to secure their first-choice course in round two on August 31st.

If they receive such an offer in the second round, you will be fully reimbursed any registration charges you will have paid the college.

If you have paid a deposit to a campus-based apartment, you will also be reimbursed this payment. The same may not always be the case with private landlords, so be careful if you are anticipating attending a different college in another city or town following a possible second-round offer.

A number of helpline callers who had received offers were unclear about the options open to them.

Some had received an offer of their first-choice course, but now wanted another course from lower down their list, for which they had the points.

The CAO rules are quite clear on this issue: once you have been offered a course, all courses lower down on that list are wiped from your record and cannot be offered.

Applicants in this situation have two options: accept the course on offer or, if you are now certain that you do not want to study it and want another one for which you have the points, reapply to the CAO next year.

There is no guarantee that the points for the programme you now want will not increase next year, so be careful in deciding what course of action to take.

Prepare for deadline

Former sixth-year students should seek an appointment with your guidance counsellors this week before you notify the CAO of your decision prior to 5.15pm on Monday, August 28th.

If you are short a few points for your desired course, you should immediately return the “review your script” form that was in your Leaving Cert results envelope.

You must be available to personally be present on either or both September 1st and 2nd in your school to view the scripts.

You may bring one other person with you to view each paper. They can be different people for each subject.

If you decide to request to have any subject re-marked it will cost €40, which will be refunded if you are upgraded in mid-October.

You may feel hard-done-by in a specific subject and intend to seek a review of that script only.

That is poor logic, as you are now blind as to what percentage you scored in each of your papers.

If you review all scripts other than ones in which you have secured a H1, you will than know your exact mark for each subject.

Given that all grades are now in 10 per cent bands, you have a far better chance of an upgrade in a subject where you are 1 or 2 per cent off the next grade band, rather than seven or eight.

Special maths exams are running each day this week in some colleges, mainly where students failed to secure the H4 grade required for level-eight engineering degree programmes, with details on their websites.