CAO 2019: Adventure into adult life begins after eventful and emotional days

Disappointed? There are plenty of options for students who did not get preferred course

If you have narrowly missed out, one option is to appeal your exam result. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Many CAO applicants and their parents are spending the weekend reflecting on a very eventful and emotional number of days since the Leaving Cert results came out.

Any student disappointed with their CAO outcome should be aware there are still plenty of options left.

For students who did not receive an offer of their top-preference course on Thursday, there may be a strong temptation to accept whatever level-eight (honours degree) programme down their list of course choices they receive.

This could be a huge mistake which may well lead to you dropping out of college before the end of this academic year.


Students need to sit back over the weekend and into next week and ask themselves some basic questions.

What is the aim or goal they were trying to achieve in making their course choices this year?

If there was a particular course they aspired to, and did not secure an offer, have they received a level-six/seven (advanced diploma/ordinary degree) offer from their second CAO list which will allow them to transfer to their preferred course in a year or so?

Alternatively, are there Further Education (FE) options on offer in your region which will give you the opportunity to apply for your preferred level eight programme though the CAO in the coming year?

Many universities and ITs now offer up to 10 per cent of their places to FE graduates.

Whatever you decide to do, do not be put off by any fears you may have of what your friends, Auntie Mary, Uncle Johnny or anyone else might think, concerning selecting an option today that does not lead you immediately into a level-eight programme.

Those who have your genuine interest at heart will want what is best for you long-term.


If you have narrowly missed out, one option is to appeal your exam result. Your first step will be viewing your exam scripts. If you applied to do so, you will get a a chance to see your paper in school on Tuesday and Wednesday next (or online in the case of maths, physics, chemistry, biology, politics and LCVP).

You may then decide to apply for a remarking of one or more papers up to 5pm on Thursday, August 22nd. About one in five papers, typically, get upgraded.

Some students may be wondering why points have increased for their chosen course.

Remember: CAO points are based on the supply and demand of places and the overall performance of that year’s cohort of students. If students’ scores increase overall, points go up accordingly.

In recent times, more students are taking higher-level papers and are performing better in them than in previous years.

For example, the number of students achieving seven, six and five H1s – a remarkable achievement – is up significantly on last year.

These are substantial increases in high scores from students, which are reflected in the increased CAO points requirements for many high-points courses.


For most students who have secured an offer of a course which they are very happy to accept, the next few days will involve preparing to make the transition to life beyond second level.

Accommodation, and the funding of it, may be a huge challenge for many and should be resolved before you hit the accept button on the CAO website.

Securing your degree in three to four years’ time will ultimately depend on good long-term planning now, after which the adventure into adult life can begin.