Think seriously before accepting that college place offer


COLLEGE CHOICE:IF YOU have not received one of your preferred CAO choices but are considering a lower preference which you are still uncertain about, you have until 5.15pm next Monday to decide.

The place on offer to you is a valuable and expensive commodity. Hopefully, you can afford to pay the student contribution fee yourself.

Otherwise, your parents – unless you qualify for a grant – will be paying €2,250 towards the cost of your education each year.

There is also a financial burden on the Government, which pays the college at least €5,000 on your behalf.

The Government financial contribution to your education is much higher in faculties in the science, medical and paramedical areas, which provide expensive laboratory-based teaching. If you accept a place in a private college and pay the full fees yourself, the Government will reimburse your parents a 20 per cent portion, based on tax relief at the standard rate.

Whether you accept a place in a publicly funded or private college, you will use up one year of State funding support.

If you lose interest in the course and drop out, or fail first year and decide to abandon the course, you will be charged the full cost of any new course you may subsequently select. So think seriously before you accept any course offer from the CAO, particularly one you are ambivalent about.

How can I ensure the course on offer to me is a good one that will make a positive contribution to my career development?

The first thing you should do today is study every aspect of the curriculum of the course you have been offered, on the Qualifax website at

Look at the subjects taught in each year to see if you would be genuinely interested in studying them. Many students who drop out of courses each year do so on the basis that they did not like or were not able to comprehend the subject matter of the lectures. If you study the course details now, you can avoid this expensive mistake.

If, having explored the full details of the course, you are feeling positive towards it, take the next step by visiting the college in the coming days. There is nothing more certain to help make up your mind than to experience the reality of the college itself. The staff will be happy to talk to you and answer any questions you may have.

Explore all aspects of what the college has to offer. Talk to any current students of the course. Consult, which contains thousands of reviews by current students of their colleges and courses. Read what current students have to say regarding the course you are considering. Given the current serious financial difficulties being experienced by many parents, you should also check out the cost and availability of accommodation in or close to the college you are considering. Can you afford to pay the costs associated with accepting this place?

Alternative options to the current CAO route

There are thousands of high-quality post-Leaving Cert (PLC) courses available throughout the State.

Many students who have applied for and secured places on such courses are giving them up today because they have received and accepted a CAO offer. If you are interested in a PLC course, you should contact the college immediately to see if there is a place available. These courses can lead you directly back into the CAO degree system you missed out on this week, assuming you do well in your exams this year.

Senior College Dún Laoghaire offers a two-year course in business studies which allows a student to transfer to the Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) to complete their business degree. There are hundreds of such examples of excellent PLC courses across the country, so explore the options on offer in your local area.

New courses

Some colleges have launched new courses in recent weeks which cannot form part of this year’s CAO offers. The colleges are therefore accepting direct applications. If you have missed out on a science degree course due to the rise in points, DIT is offering a new science degree programme starting in September. Email if you are interested. Waterford IT is offering a bachelor of business (honours) with Chinese, a BSc in retail management and a BSc in sports coaching and performance. See Deadline for applications is August 31st.

Brian Mooney is a guidance counsellor at Oatlands College, Dublin; his column resumes in the education pages next month

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