Review your application ahead of July

With the exams out of the way, this is the time when students can focus on getting their college choices right

Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 00:00

Q Why is now a good time to reassess my CAO options?

A When you made your initial CAO application you were probably focused on preparations for your Leaving Cert or Post-Leaving Cert (PLC) programme. Now your exams are over, or nearly, your mind is free of those pressures and anxieties and you have just under two weeks to finalise your list of course choices.

Many students use the initial application in January as a holding exercise, to secure access to a college place in September. Now you have to submit a definitive list of options, ask yourself which course or courses will build on your strengths, interests and aptitudes and enhance your capacity to enter the labour market at the end of third level.

Q How should I go about making these choices?

A You need to be aware of the courses on offer. The CAO handbook for 2014-2015 was printed in summer 2013 and is based on information from the colleges who operate through the CAO application system. Since then many courses have been withdrawn, amended or added by the colleges. The CAO website,, has an up-to-date list of these amendments.

To examine the current list of courses on offer through CAO, including programme details, check A drop-down menu classifies every course under the following headings: administration/business, agriculture/horticulture, architecture, art/design, arts/social science, built environment, dentistry, education, engineering/technology, human medicine, law, nursing, other healthcare, pharmacy, physiotherapy, science, applied science, and veterinary medicine.

Explore your options within these classifications. There are also useful potted guides to different career areas in the following pages of this supplement which will be useful. No matter what points you get in your Leaving Cert on August 13th or through your PLC course, there are courses on offer from colleges at higher certificate, ordinary and honours degree levels, to suit your circumstances.

Q I know where to find information on all the courses; how do I apply it to myself?

A Most students have been through this process with their school guidance counsellor over the past year. If you are still uncertain, follow these steps:

– Take the interest inventory on and and see if they highlight any areas of particular interest to you.

– Re-read the results of other interest inventory or differential aptitude tests you undertook in the past two to three years. They may point in the direction of one or more of the 17 course groupings above.

– Look at your results over the past few years, including the results of your Junior Cert. Are you performing above your average in one or more subjects? These subjects may be the ones to pursue in an undergraduate course.

– Reflect on any work experience in Transition Year or the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme to see whether it enthused or discouraged your interest in a particular occupation or career path.

– Reflect on the subjects you have just taken in your Leaving Cert or other examinations. Which ones did you enjoy studying most? Which ones did you most enjoy writing about in the exam hall over the past two weeks?

The answers to all of the above questions may help you to narrow your course choices down to a relatively small number of options.

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