Time to start preparing for life in college
What steps you should take as you prepare for the next stage of your education
Adult learners get their results at Pearse College, Crumlin, August 2018: Gordon Elder, Liam Kieran, Lee Cummins, Michael Barry and Jonathan Lumsden. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
The long wait is over and the first round offers have been released. Whether you have received an offer of a place on the course you wanted – or haven’t done as well as you expected – there are steps you must now take as you prepare for the next stage of your education.
1. Beat the deadline
If you are lucky enough to have received your preferred course, you should accept the offer straight away. This year the CAO window for round one offers is shorter than normal: applicants only have until 5.15pm on Friday to accept.
2. Consider your other offers
If you didn’t get what you wanted, it’s not the end of the world. Accepting or not accepting an offer at this point will not prevent you from receiving an offer of a course higher up on your course choices list, if you are deemed eligible in a later round. Remember: you can move up your list of preferences, not down. If you don’t accept an offer, however, you run the risk of not receiving any other offers in later rounds. The second round of offers will be issued on August 29th. Note: Round two acceptances must be submitted by 5.15pm on August 31st.
3. Take a year out
If you are happy with the course you were offered but want to defer your place, you need to act straight away. You do not accept your offer – instead, you must email or write to the admissions office of the university or college. Give your name as it appears on your CAO application, quote your CAO application number and the course code of the offer you wish to defer, and set out why you wish to do so. Note: there is no guarantee that they will allow the deferral.
4. Go flat hunting
The hunt for student accommodation is well and truly under way. If you need somewhere to live, your first port-of-call should be the college. Places in student halls of residence quickly fill up – many are already full. Your college and students’ union should also have a list of reasonably priced rooms and digs. Privately-run student residences are also an option, though these are expensive. Be sure to check your lease: some private accommodation can exceed the student academic year so be prepared to have to rent throughout the holidays if you wish to keep the keys.
5. Alternative options
Don’t worry if you didn’t get the CAO course you wanted. There are plenty of other routes that you can take. There are some 30,000 places available in further education colleges throughout the country. Many provide high quality tuition and on-the-job experience, while apprenticeships offer a chance to earn and learn. Many of these courses also offer an alternative route to attaining a degree in college. The Irish Times will publish a special guide to these courses in a special Smart Choices supplement on August 23rd.
6. Familiarise yourself with the campus
When the college year gets under way it is as well to be ready. If you are taking a place in college in September, you could do worse than visit the campus to get a good feel for it. Most institutions will provide tours and induction days and these are well worth attending. There will be a lot to absorb. Things will seem like they are happening at a lightening pace so there’s no harm in being prepared – at the very least find out where the library is!
7. Don’t panic
No matter what you want to do at this juncture, there are plenty of options available for you to choose from. You may opt to take a year out, or perhaps change course entirely and study something completely different.