Ask Brian: ‘My daughter wants a year out. Should she still apply to the CAO?’

College is just one of many options but It’s worth registering in case of a change of mind

It is perfectly normal for Leaving Cert students at this stage to still be unsure about what course options to take. Photograph: iStock

It is perfectly normal for Leaving Cert students at this stage to still be unsure about what course options to take. Photograph: iStock

 

My daughter is sitting the Leaving Cert in June but is thinking of taking a year out. She’s not sure she wants to go to college. Should she apply to the CAO this year and defer taking up a place, or just wait another year to apply?

The first piece of advice I would give you as a parent is to affirm your daughter’s doubts and assure her that she need have no further anxiety over her lack of college aspirations.

The world and her career options may look very different in six months’ time, when she has finished her Leaving Cert. Therefore, wasting time and piling on further stress on course choices at this stage is counterproductive.

College is one of a wide range of options open to your daughter, but by no means the only one.

My only concern for her would be that she might feel marginalised from her friends or peer group by not having any specific course aspirations at this stage in sixth year.

She may also get to a point in August next when she decides that seeking and accepting a college place in the coming academic year fits in well with her career aspirations. It is for that reason that I would advise her to register with the CAO this week before the January 20th deadline for the €30 application fee.

Insurance payment

Consider it simply as an insurance payment, which gives her the right up to July 1st next to list whatever courses she is interested in.

To register with the CAO at this stage requires her to provide them with personal information concerning herself, where she lives, her contact details, and if she wishes the school she is attending.

If she may be eligible to be considered for special access programmes based on family income or a diagnosed disability – the Hear and Dare schemes – then she needs to proceed with meeting the various deadlines, clearly explained in her CAO handbook or online (www.cao.ie).

The career journey of life has many twists and turns and attending third level college immediately following the Leaving Cert is but one of them

If neither of these programmes apply in her circumstances, then she can forget about the entire matter until her exams finish in late June.

Serious consideration

If at that stage college has become a serious consideration for her, she can simply add a list of course choices to her CAO application, which will put her in the exact same situation as any other applicant who enters their course choices in the coming days.

The career journey of life has many twists and turns and attending third level college immediately following the Leaving Cert is but one of them. As a society we would hugely reduce mental health issues effecting young people if we took a more balanced approach to the options open to school leavers.