Seeking a recheck may be worthwhile

College Choice: If you didn’t get a CAO offer, don’t panic – several avenues may still be open

Third-level students: Just 34 seconds after CAO applications opened at 6am yesterday morning, three students had accepted their offers.

Third-level students: Just 34 seconds after CAO applications opened at 6am yesterday morning, three students had accepted their offers.


You may think Usain Bolt is fast, but he is nothing compared to the CAO applicants of 2013. Just 34 seconds after applications opened at 6am yesterday morning, three students had accepted their places. Five minutes into the process, more than 1,000 had done so, and by 2pm the number of acceptances had exceeded 20,000.

Several students who were sitting at their computers waiting for an offer were shocked to get nothing. This was not because they had not secured the required points, but because the CAO had written to them in May pointing out that it had not received any details of Leaving Cert exam numbers or Fetac awards, and the applicants had not responded to the letters.

If you are in this situation, you should write to the CAO today, and provide the missing information. Students who have failed to inform the CAO of an Irish or foreign language exemption fall into the same category.

Random selection
Several callers to The Irish Times online help service were confused by the random selection process. If you have the points required for a course but have not received an offer due to random selection, it means that your randomly-generated CAO number is not among the highest numbers who got an offer.

This is the only fair way to distribute places when there are more applicants on a particular points score than there are places available. Colleges will try to offer places to as many of the people in this situation as possible in the round two offers on Thursday, August 29th.

At noon tomorrow the CAO will release the Vacant Places list of courses that have yet to fill up. Any existing CAO applicant who has yet to secure a satisfactory offer may place an advertised vacant place in any slot on their application record. The CAO will accept new applications from anybody interested in courses listed exclusively on the Vacant Places list.

If you are still holding out hope for a place on any course on your existing list of preferences, make sure to put the newly-introduced course below this course. If you do not, you are permanently excluding yourself from receiving an offer, if it were to become available, as you would have been offered the vacant place which would be a higher preference.

Maynooth course in Kilkenny
I am aware that NUI Maynooth, which requires 460 points for its Arts degree, will today offer places on the new First Arts programme on its Kilkenny campus at 310 points, using the Vacant Places list on the CAO website, Students successfully completing first year in Kilkenny will transfer to the Maynooth campus in 2014.

If you are short of points for your desired course and wish to review your scripts, you must return the form you received with your Leaving Cert results last Wednesday to your school by today. The scripts will be available to view on Friday and Saturday, August 30th and 31st. You must be personally present to view your scripts. You may bring a second person with you, and that person can be different for each paper viewed.

If you ask your subject teachers, they may be available to view the script with you. One benefit of this process is that you get to see your exact percentage grade. You are more likely to be upgraded in papers on which you are 1 per cent short of the next grade, compared to one on which your are 4 per cent short, so the process is well worthwhile.

If you decide to seek a recheck of your paper, you must return the form – which is available from your school – to the State Examinations Commission by Wednesday, September 4th. The process will cost you €40 per paper, but you will not get the result of the recheck until mid-October, so you may have to wait until September 2014 to start on any course you are offered at that stage. If your appeal for a recheck is successful, you will be refunded your €40.

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