What happens next and how to manage it

Thu, Aug 30, 2012, 01:00

Remember – you’re not alone. Whether you are dealing with the good news of accepting your chosen course or struggling with an unexpected decision, there is always help available

I GOT THE SECOND-ROUND OFFER I WANT. HOW DO I ACCEPT MY PLACE?

You should go online to the CAO website ( cao.ie) and, using your access code and password, view the course or courses on offer to you today. If you’re one of the small number of applicants who will accept a place by post, do so at least a day before the deadline and get a certificate of posting from your post office. If you do not accept the place offered to you today by the September 5th deadline, it will go back into the CAO computer system for any later offers.

I DIDN’T GET THE COURSE I REALLY WANTED FROM THE CAO TODAY, BUT I HAVE AN OFFER THAT I’M NOT REALLY SURE ABOUT TAKING. WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?

If you have not received a second-round offer, your chances of points dropping further are small, so it is time to look at the options still open to you. There are still vacant courses on offer through the CAO website. So long as there are courses on offer you can amend your list of courses to add one of those.

If you decide not to take what you have been offered today, the offer will lapse on September 5th and you cannot retrieve it.

If having checked the course out on the Qualifax website ( qualifax.ie) and visited the college, you feel it is not for you, have the courage to let the offer go. There is a big financial cost if you drift through a course you are not committed too and eventually drop out or fail. If one of the courses you really want does become available in a later round of offers and you want to accept it, you may transfer your acceptance to that place at no additional expense.

I’M DELIGHTED WITH MY CAO OFFER, BUT I WOULD LIKE TO DEFER MY ACCEPTANCE FOR A YEAR.

If you want to defer your course place, you must immediately contact the college admissions office, and request their permission to defer your place until next year, outlining your reason for doing so. You do not need to contact the CAO at this stage but you must remember to re-apply to the CAO next year, listing just that one course in your CAO application.

One further point to remember is that your offer will be posted to you much earlier in the summer next year. You will have one week to accept it. If you miss this deadline you have lost your deferred place and cannot retrieve it.

I’M REALLY CONFUSED. I GOT MORE POINTS THAN THE ONES PUBLISHED IN TODAY’S IRISH TIMES, BUT I DIDN’T GET OFFERED A PLACE TODAY

If you have secured the minimum points, but have not received an offer today, you are lacking one of the basic entry requirements for that course. It may simply be that you have a D grade in a particular subject, but the course requires you to have a C. A list of minimum requirements is available on qualifax.ie.

I HAVE BEEN OFFERED MY HIGHEST PREFERENCE COURSE FROM MY LEVEL 6/7 COURSE LIST AND I HAVE BEEN OFFERED ONE OF MY LOWER PREFERENCE COURSES ON MY LEVEL 8 LIST. THE LEVEL 8 COURSE ISN’T REALLY IN THE AREA I’M MOST INTERESTED IN THOUGH. WHICH ONE SHOULD I ACCEPT?

Do not let snobbery or fear of what your friends or relations may say distract you from your long-term career goals. If the level six or seven course offered to you, is in the area that you want to study, and it allows you to progress on to a level eight degree, on successful completion of your course, it would be unwise to accept the level eight place that you have been offered this morning, if it is not in an area of genuine interest to you.

I DIDN’T GET A CAO OFFER. DO I HAVE ANY OPTIONS AT ALL?

Yes. You may still receive an offer of a place from the small number of places offered after this round. You should also check out the extensive list of vacant places on other courses, which is updated daily on the CAO website. These are courses that are still offering places. You can secure an offer of one of these places by simply identifying the course you are interested in, and placing it on the top of your CAO list of choices, by amending your list of course choices on the CAO website. Think carefully about any changes you may wish to make to your list of course choices, and discuss them with your school guidance counsellor.

I DO NOT WISH TO ACCEPT MY CAO OFFER.

In your situation you need take no further action. Your name will remain on the waiting list for any courses higher up your order of preference than the one currently offered to you. But be aware that there is no certainty that you will receive a further offer.

TELL ME ABOUT PLCS

If none of the vacant places courses advertised on the CAO website interest you, you may consider the option of a Post Leaving Certificate course, which will allow you to apply again to the CAO next year, presenting the result of your PLC course as your method of entry.

I HAVE BEEN OFFERED A PLACE ON A COURSE, BUT CANNOT AFFORD TO ACCEPT IT UNLESS I QUALIFY FOR A GRANT. WHERE CAN I FIND OUT IF I QUALIFY OR NOT?

The maintenance grant is the main source of financial help available to students. Family and/or personal income is a key factor that will be assessed when you apply for a maintenance grant but there are also some other conditions. You should immediately log on to the studentfinance.iewebsite, where you will find a comprehensive ten-point guide to help you decide on your eligibility. If you think that you meet the criteria laid out in the website, you should immediately log on to the site and complete the online application form. If you need any assistance contact the SUSI Support Desk support@susi.cdvec.ie Telephone: 0761 08 7874

DO I HAVE TO PAY A FEE WHEN RETURNING MY ACCEPTANCE TO CAO?

No, payment is required when returning the acceptance of a place. The college will send out any bills for tuition fees etc, separately. All enquiries about such fees should be directed to the fees office of the college offering the place – not to the CAO. Students will have to pay these registration charges, when they are registering in their new college.

I HAVE THE PUBLISHED POINTS FOR THE COURSE I WANT, BUT HAVE NOT RECEIVED AN OFFER DUE TO RANDOM SELECTION. WHAT CAN I DO NOW?

You may choose to accept the course you have been offered and hope that the college will attempt before they finally finish offering places at the end of the offer process to clear all those on random selection. There is no way of knowing how many students are on the same points as you and waiting to see if any places become available. The technical operation of random selection is clearly outlined in the CAO handbook, which is available on their website cao.ie.

Brian Mooney is guidance counsellor at Oatlands College, Dublin