CAO 2019: Think before hitting the ‘accept’ tab for unexpected offer
Most students who drop out during first year do so due to lack of interest in the course
CAO applicants who receive an offer of a course other than their first preference should reflect very carefully before accepting. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Thursday afternoon will bring the Leaving Cert and college application process to an instant conclusion for many thousands of third-level applicants.
At 2pm they will open their personal file on the CAO website to discover that they have been offered their first preference choice.
Within seconds many will have clicked on the accept tab and printed out their evidence of acceptance.
By close of business on Thursday evening, colleges throughout the country will already be processing these acceptances and beginning the registration process for the incoming first-year class of 2019.
The hunt for accommodation may prove to be the biggest challenge facing many students and their families in turning their academic-career aspirations into reality.
One of the main reasons given by students surveyed following dropping out of their course was their inability to continue to meet the ongoing costs of accommodation.
Hopefully, students who have listed a course as their first preference have already factored in the costs associated with this decision.
CAO applicants who receive an offer on Thursday of a course other than their first preference should reflect very carefully before hitting the accept tab.
They need to realise that all lower preferences on their CAO record are now erased.
But no matter what they choose to do in terms of Thursday’s offer, they will be automatically offered any higher preference which becomes available through a reduction in points requirement.
The golden rule is to take the next few days to consider an unexpected offer of a lower preference.
Read in detail every piece of published information on the course content, assessment methodology, progression opportunities, possible employment pathways following graduation, and so on. It is surprising that many students who abandon their course during first year give as their reason a lack of interest in the course content.
Check out the college website or qualifax.ie, which has every detail of all undergraduate and postgraduate programmes offered by third-level institutions as well as all further education programmes offered through Education Training Boards (ETBs).
Do not accept any offer of a course on Thursday from the CAO without familiarising yourself with every detail of what you are signing yourself up to for the next three to four years.
Many students who contacted The Irish Times Helpdesk over the past few days have been asking if the points requirements for their courses will go up or down.
It is impossible to say for sure until aspiring applicants log onto their accounts on Thursday afternoon.
Some will be devastated to discover that the cut-off point for offers on their dream course has increased this year beyond their own CAO points score.
Conversely, others will be pleasantly surprised to discover that the points for their first choice have dropped since 2018, and they have unexpectedly received an offer.
The CAO points requirements to be published on Thursday represent the Leaving Cert score of the last person to be offered a place on that specific course this year.
If, as is evident from the overall results published on Tuesday last, there has been a general increase in overall performance in this year’s Leaving Cert, the person to secure the last available seat in the lecture theatre is likely to have a higher score than the equivalent person in 2018.