CAO helpdesk: can I take my second or third choice course instead?

What happens when you change your mind and want a course lower down the CAO list


Guidance counsellors Brian Howard and Deirdre Garrett answer questions asked on our live blog

My daughter has been given her first choice in UCC but at the last minute she feels her second choice in UCC was her preferred option. Is there any solution to this?

Unfortunately not. Once she was offered her first choice then effectively all her lower choices were deleted from her application. The only way she could get to this second choice is if the course appeared on the vacant places list on the CAO website. This is a list of courses colleges have not managed to fill. The other option is to apply again next year placing this course at the top of her CAO list.

My son got 460 points and has enough for his third (UCD) and fourth (DIT) choices. He has plenty of points for both. Is there any way he can do the fourth choice instead of the third choice at this point?

Unfortunately not. If he is offered his third choice then effectively his fourth choice will disappear. You can never move down the CAO list of choices. The only possibility of getting to a place on the DIT course is if it appears on the list of vacant places on the CAO website but this is a long shot.

Please can you tell me if it is possible to change choice options on CAO? I have been offered law in Galway (first choice, UCD, jumped by 10 points) but would prefer my next choice on the CAO which is law in Cork. I am not taking up the Galway option.

Unfortunately, you will never be offered courses choices that fall below today’s course offer even if you don’t accept today’s offer. You cannot change the order of preference either. The closing date for this was July 1st. You may be offered courses that lie above your offer today (Galway) if points drop in round two.

I have been offered a choice above what I really want. I understand that my CAO was filled out incorrectly. Is it possible to accept the course offered and watch out for a vacant place on the course below me and then apply?

Yes, absolutely.