Ask Brian: Can this year’s points be used to secure a college place after a year out?

The short answer is yes

Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

PROBLEM: My daughter will be sitting her Leaving Cert this summer. She has registered with the CAO but she is considering taking a year out to take a short course while working part time. If she goes for this option, and applies for a college place in 2017, can she qualify with this year’s CAO points?

ADVICE: Your daughter is wise. No one is obliged to have an undergraduate career path mapped out on completing the Leaving Cert. Indeed, a high numbers of students fail to progress beyond first year.

Your daughter should reflect on the range of options open to her at third level over the coming months. Once her Leaving Cert exams are completed, she should sit back and reflect on what degree courses might suit her interests.

Your daughter has until 5.15pm on July 1st to complete her course choice online. If at that stage she still cannot discern a suitable option for herself, she should definitely step back for a year, consider a post-Leaving Cert course in an area she would enjoy or, as you suggest, secure a part-time job and use the next year to reflect on her options.

If she does make CAO choices and secures an offer on August 22nd, she can accept that place and proceed to college.

If she remains uncertain about the suitability of the course, she can write directly within a day or so to the admissions office of the college in question, requesting a deferment. This will be granted, and she can proceed to do whatever she wants for the following year, in the certain knowledge that her place is secure (provided she applies again to the CAO in 2017 and lists only the deferred course on her course choice list).

If your daughter does not apply for any course to the CAO by July 1st, or decides not to proceed with any deferred course she secures in August, she will be in a position to apply to the CAO in the normal way for entry in the 2017-2018 academic year.

Her percentage marks in every paper will be allocated CAO points based on the “new common points scale” to be introduced for the 2017 academic year. This new scale will be based on seven bands of 10 per cent, from 100-30, at higher level, and six at ordinary level from 100-40. Thirty-seven CAO points will be awarded to those who secure 30-40 on a higher level paper.

If your daughter were to fail a higher level paper in this year’s Leaving Cert – securing, for example, 36 per cent – she would get no points. But once translated into the new common points scale in 2017, she will be awarded 37 points for this result.

The hundreds of thousands of former second-level school students who currently have a points score based on their Leaving Cert results will have a new one come 2017. Any course they may choose to apply for in the future will use this points score to determine eligibility.

  • Email your education queries to askbrian@irishtimes.com
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