CAO help: Should I accept my first offer if it’s not my first choice?

A selection of questions asked of our guidance counsellors Brian Howard and Deirdre Garrett

If you accept an offer for your second choice you could still be offered your first choice in round two – if the points drop. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan.

If you accept an offer for your second choice you could still be offered your first choice in round two – if the points drop. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan.


If I started a course under the Free Scheme Initiative, and dropped it in favour of a different course, would I still be eligible for the Free Scheme Initiative?

It would depend on when you would drop out. You don’t tend to lose the free fees if you drop out before the end of October. It varies as the academic year goes on. I would advise you to check the dates with the registration/fees office. Each institution may vary with dates. If you move institutions due to an upgrade from an appeal then your paid registration moves with you.

If I accept an offer and apply for a recheck, should I register for a course or just wait for the result?

The best advice here is to continue as if you are not going to get an appeal. In other words assume the appeal will not result in an upgrade and make your decisions on this basis. So if you have accepted a course you should register for the course and follow on. If an appeal results in an upgrade then this is a bonus and you can make decisions on the basis of a possible new offer.

If I accept the offer of my second choice course now, will I still be offered my first choice if the points drop for round two or three offers?

Yes. You will still be in the competition for courses of higher preferences than yesterday’s offer.

My son has received a first round offer but he is doing the maths exam in UL to try to reach the required standard for another course. What happens the first offer if the maths exam goes well?

I am assuming the first round offer was not his first preference. If it was he will receive no more offers.

Let’s assume his first round offer was for his fifth preference and the course he is trying to get a place on with the improved maths grade is his third preference. If he is successful in the maths exam and now meets the matriculation requirement for his third preference, then this will be upgraded on the CAO system and he will now be eligible for his third preference. Assuming UL has space, he will now more than likely be offered a place on his third preference in the second round.

My daughter got her second choice and she has accepted it. Is it possible for her to continue her course and apply again next year with the same marks for her first choice? Both courses are the same but at different universities.

Yes there is nothing stopping her from doing this. Just bear in mind that the second time she is doing first year in the other college -- if she gets an offer -- she will have to pay the full fees, not just the €3000 for that year. Remember, it is a whole new competition next year and nobody knows if the points will go even higher for her first preference course or possibly drop.

My daughter was offered her first choice of business and Spanish but did much better than she expected. Now she has enough points for the same course in TCD but didn’t put it down. What are her options?

Her final submittance for CAO 2017 was July 1st at 5.15pm. Unfortunately, nothing can be done for CAO 2017 rounds. All candidates are encouraged to rank their course choices alongside their interest and not points.

She can reapply to CAO 2018 putting TCD course above yesterday’s offered course.