CAO 2019: What to do if you didn’t receive the offer you wanted?

It is worth taking time to think about your options as there is no one route into a career

It may come as a surprise to many parents and students, but I often recommend that students who have secured an offer from the CAO of one of their course choices should consider the alternative option of a level 5 further education course, prior to moving on to a third-level degree programme. For students who don’t receive a satisfactory CAO offer, the argument is even more compelling.

Many Leaving Cert students are still uncertain where their academic interests lie, and often proceed to third-level out of the fear of being left behind or losing contact with their peer group. My strong advice to such students would be to consider a year’s reflection while taking a level 5 PLC programme, in an area of genuine interest, in their local further education college.

If the course engages their interest fully, they can then confidently proceed to apply for a course in that area at third-level, using either their current year CAO points or the level 5 award, which is one route many students can take to secure places in programmes where they do not currently have enough CAO points to secure entry.

Further education

All further education (FE) colleges throughout the country are still taking enrolments and students can go on to any college website to apply online.

Classes start in early to mid-September, so there is plenty of time to find a course. Some colleges hold open days over the coming week, so check out your local colleges’ websites. Assessment and certification for FE courses is based on both work during the year and exams at the end.

Many FE courses are now specifically designed as preparation courses for entry into third-level programmes, in law, business, science, architecture, art and design, etc. Following completion of their year in FE, students progress back into a CAO course through reserved places, bypassing the CAO points requirements.

An example of this progression is Blackrock Further Education Institute (BFEI) which offers a two-year level 6 Advanced Certificate in Business. On successful completion, students can gain advanced entry to the second year of the level 7 Bachelor of Business in Enterprise at the nearby Institute of Art Design and Technology (IADT), Dún Laoghaire. There are similar advanced entry options for its Advanced Certificate in Interior Design.

As with many FE colleges, Blackrock FEI offers a range of one-year level 5 courses, including computer science and arts and social science where graduates can apply through CAO for degree courses in UCD, TU Dublin and IT Tallaght. New and exciting for 2019/20, graduates from Blackrock FEI business studies and law courses can progress to the business, economics and social studies (BESS) and law degrees at Trinity College. Progression options are continuing to open up for QQI Award-holders.

Bray College of Further Education offers a pre-science programme which is very popular with students seeking to bypass the high points requirements of UCD and Trinity’s science degree courses.

In Stillorgan College of Further Education, most graduates from its art, animation and media production courses progress to degree courses which may require a portfolio or have a high points requirement. Stillorgan FE also has an excellent reputation for its photography course, as evidenced by the fact its students have won awards for three years running at the National Student Media Awards.

In the City of Dublin Education Training Board (CDETB) area, Rathmines College has a long tradition in business, marketing, accounting, media, office administration and computer programming. It also runs a liberal arts access course where students can move to arts in UCD and Maynooth University.

Rathmines also has employment-orientated programmes in medical and legal administration, with almost guaranteed employment. The fees in Rathmines College are €460, or €210 with a medical card.

Private colleges

The private education sector has a wide range of courses that are still available, either through vacant places on the CAO or by direct application to the college. Fees are about €5,000-€6,000 and tax relief of €400 can be claimed.

Given the high points requirements for law degrees in State-funded colleges, disappointed students might consider Griffith College. Its programme involves students in clinical practice through the college’s Innocent Project, which reviews cases where miscarriages of justice may have occurred.

Recent Griffith law students were responsible for having the murder conviction of Harry Gleeson, who was executed in the 1940s, overturned.

Griffith also offers a film degree covering direction, production and editing of film and TV, and a four-year computer science degree with a six-month work placement, which has virtually a full employment record.

Dublin Business School (DBS) has a range of level 8 degrees which may be attractive to those disappointed by the rise in CAO points.

These programmes include a BSc in Computing, BA in Psychology, and a BA in Business, Accounting and Finance.

Study through English in Europe

Although the application deadlines have passed for many continental European degrees , they are still open for a wide range of courses for entry this September, particularly in the Netherlands. A wide selection of these programmes is on, together with application deadlines and fees. Studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity, but I would hesitate if I was yet to celebrate my 18th birthday.

European universities are relatively easy to get into, but successfully completing first year can be a real challenge, so constant and intensive commitment to the programme is essential if you want to make it into second year.

Repeat Leaving Cert courses

The numbers repeating the Leaving Cert have collapsed over recent years and a little over 1,000 students currently do so each year. Consequently, the number of schools offering this option has decreased considerably as the market has contracted.

Take a year out

Not everyone is ready to go directly to college after the Leaving Cert, particularly if they are under 18. If so, do not take a college course just to be with your friends or to feel part of the group.

There are many creative ways to spend a year, including volunteering at home or abroad, while you figure out what you really want to study in college. Step back and reflect at leisure. It’s far better than charging in and dropping out after a few months

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