Time to make up or change your mind

What do you really want to study in college? This is the time to reassess your CAO options

Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 00:00

The Leaving Certificate is now over or finishing up for this year’s students and two months of rest – or summer work – beckon. Before you head off into the sunshine, spare a thought for that moment on August 18th when you log on to the CAO website to see what course/courses you may be offered.

Considering between two CAO offers

Will you get the points for your first choice or will you be offered one of the courses further down your list? Will you accept your first choice on your level six/seven list instead, and spend an extra year securing the degree course, which is your first choice at level eight?

The answers to all these questions presuppose you have researched all of your CAO options thoroughly, and have selected up to 20 choices which are now listed in your order of preference.

If there is any doubt in your mind as to the quality of your CAO application, or how you have researched each choice you have listed, now is the time to rectify things, before you head for a well-earned break.

Don’t select courses without thorough research. The price of failure to do this now – before the CAO change of mind closes at 5.15pm on July 1st – can be a very big one.

If you end up accepting a course that is not right for you, whether because the curriculum is not to your liking, you did not research the course content thoroughly, or because you end up realising that you have selected a course you have no interest in, you may end up dropping out during the academic year, or you may fail your exams.

If either of these eventualities happens, and you decide to return to college the following year on another course, you will again have to pay the registration fee of €3,000 in 2015.

You will also have to fork out the course fee of at least €4,000 which the Department of Education and Skills will pay the college on your behalf this year.

The HEA, on behalf of the State, will only pay course fees once for every year of an approved course. If you end up repeating a year, you pay. This extra €4,000 would bring your fee total for your repeat first year to at least €7,000. For many families today, this is way beyond their resources, especially when you factor in the living costs of college.

Even if you choose a course in a private college next year, and then leave it to follow one in a State-funded college the following year, you will still have to pay the full fees.

Fees paid to private colleges are tax-deductible at 20 per cent and as such are treated in the same way as State-funded places, even if you do not claim the tax relief.

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