Now is the time for mature students to act on college applications

More than 10,000 students in full-time education in the Republic are aged over 30, according to HEA

Mature applicants for medicine, in addition to completing the CAO application, must register for HPAT-Ireland. Photograph: Voyagerix

Mature applicants for medicine, in addition to completing the CAO application, must register for HPAT-Ireland. Photograph: Voyagerix

Mon, Jan 13, 2014, 01:00

Given the common perception that CAO applicants are predominantly current Leaving Certificate students, it is interesting to note that of last year’s 77,000 applicants, only 42,000, or 55 per cent, took the Leaving Certificate in 2012.

Some 15 per cent (6,156 in 2012) of all places are awarded by colleges in the CAO system to mature applicants over 23 years of age each year, 11 per cent in universities and 20 per cent in institutes of technology.

According to the Higher Education Authority, more than 10,000 students in full-time education in Ireland are over 30 years old. Therefore, if you are over 23 and would like to take an undergraduate programme of studies, now is the time to act.

The most important factor to bear in mind is that the points you achieved in your Leaving Certificate are not the determining factor in whether you will be successful. Rather it is your level of preparedness and your capacity to meet the challenges of college life in all its facets that matters.

Personal statements

This means that you will need to provide supplementary information in addition to your completed CAO application form. Supplementary information such as a CV, personal statement, documentation of any courses previously taken, or examination results (where necessary) should be sent to the CAO with your completed application form (or within seven working days of completing an online application). Personal statements are required for all programmes. Completed personal statement templates should be sent to the CAO with your other supporting documentation.

Many adults may feel intimidated at the prospect of joining a class of school-leavers. I lectured at postgraduate level in UCD for almost 20 years, and found that the presence of mature students brought huge benefits to the overall dynamic of the class. Mature students’ life experience are invaluable in supporting their younger classmates, both personally and academically.

If going to college has always been your dream, make that application now. You may opt for, or be required to take, a ‘preparatory course’ before embarking on a CAO programme.

These courses reintroduce you to the world of learning, while providing opportunities for gaining important study skills such as note-taking, writing, and research.

UCD, UCC, and NUIG require the MSAP-Ireland (Mature Students Admissions Pathway) admissions test for a number of their programmes. Having completed your CAO application, you must then register for MSAP-Ireland by applying online at msap.acer.edu.au.

Mature student test

You will need your CAO number to apply for MSAP-Ireland so you should apply via the CAO online application to ensure you have this in time. In order to avoid a late payment for the MSAP-Ireland, your online registration and payment (€70) should be completed by February 8th next. An additional late fee (€35) will apply for late MSAP-Ireland applications made in the period from February 8th to 20th .

The MSAP-Ireland test will be held on March 8th. There will be no alternative assessment date.

MSAP-Ireland results are valid for two years. This means they can be used in an application for admission in the year of the test, and/or one year later. For example, if you take the test this year, the result can be used for admission in 2014 and 2015 only.

Mature applicants for medicine, in addition to completing the CAO application, must register for HPAT-Ireland by applying online at www.hpat-ireland.acer.edu.au. You will need your CAO number to apply for HPAT-Ireland so you should apply via the CAO online to ensure you have this in time. In order to avoid a late payment for the HPAT-Ireland test, your online registration and payment (€115) should be completed by January 20th. An additional late fee will apply for late HPAT-Ireland applications made in the period from January 20th to February 4th. The HPAT-Ireland test will be held on March 1st. There will be no alternative assessment date.

Open evening

Applications on the grounds of mature years are made via the Central Applications Office by February 1st. Full details of the application process and payment for EU applicants, are available on the CAO website at www.cao.ie.

The UCD mature student open evening will take place tomorrow, January 14th, from 6pm until 8pm in UCD Belfield.

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