Students told to prioritise ‘genuine’ interests in CAO choices

Councillors give advice to third-level applicants ahead of change of mind deadline

Students have been reminded to prioritise their genuine interests ahead of the CAO change of mind deadline. File photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Students have been reminded to prioritise their genuine interests ahead of the CAO change of mind deadline. File photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

 

Students applying for third-level college places have been reminded to prioritise their “genuine” interests when filling out Central Applications Office (CAO) forms, ahead of the change of mind deadline at 5.15pm tomorrow.

Rather than trying to second-guess how many points they have earned in the Leaving Cert, guidance councillors recommend that students use their own judgement about what course suits them best - a point echoed by the CAO itself.

“What we would like to advise applicants to avoid doing is making changes to their order of preference or course choices based on how they feel they have performed in their examinations,” CAO communications officer Eileen Keleghan said.

As the deadline approaches, there have been a number of calls for students to consider science and technology courses at third level.

The latest appeal is from Ibec, ICT Ireland and the Irish Software Association who in a joint statement highlighted the growing job opportunities in this field.

Course requirements

However, a new study by researchers at UCD warns that students need to check course requirements to ensure that they are not signing up for something beyond their particular aptitudes or interests.

The study, Why do students leave higher education?, surveyed 4,036 students who dropped out of courses between 2011 and 2014. It found that more than half of them did so due to their CAO choices.

Of those dropping out for course choice reasons, 39 per cent said they selected the “wrong” course; 27 per cent said they transferred to a more desirable course; 22 per cent said “course interest and expectation” was the problem; and 12 per cent found the course too difficult.

Dr Elaine Burroughs, one of the authors of the report, said it recommended that third-level institutions be realistic when marketing courses to school-leavers, and “instead of promoting all the positive things, to emphasise the level of maths, for example, needed for the course”.

It also recommends that colleges put in place better procedures to facilitate mid-course changes of mind, and for the grant system to be reformed to give students more flexibility.

More information and advice can be found on the CAO website.