There will always be substitute work available as a primary school teacher, given the need to cover maternity leaves, normal sickness and career breaks. Photograph: iStock

Teaching posts may become harder to secure in future as numbers are projected to fall

The Teaching Council is not there to support or encourage aspiring graduates into teaching. Photo: iStock

There is a real lack of support available to encourage graduates into teaching

 Most parents who can afford the voluntary contribution  pay it, and those who can’t do not. Photo: iStock

I am concerned that my decision will affect the school’s attitude to my son

This year, instead of a single catch-all programme, UCD is offering six new programmes: three are BA degrees and three are BSc (Bachelor of Science) degrees. Photograph: Getty Images

Big changes in some arts, humanities and social science degrees

School-leavers face more than 1,000 course options in the CAO system. Photograph: iStock

School-leavers are confronted with a dizzying array of choices for further study

Grants: you can apply through the Susi website (susi.ie). There is an “eligibility reckoner” on the home page to give you an idea of whether you might be eligible for a grant.  Photograph: iStock

More than 40% of students in higher education receive grants of various types

The Dare scheme has moved away from the exclusive use of medical criteria towards a holistic one. Photograph: iStockphoto

Supports available for applicants with a disability or from disadvantaged backgrounds

If you wish to apply for a specific course, your informal learning over your lifetime will be given due recognition within the adult education system. Photo: iStock

Your local Education and Training Board is a great place to get advice on what’s available

More than 2,000 Irish students are currently studying in some of Europe’s premier universities. Photograph: iStock

Almost half of first year in veterinary science in Warsaw and Budapest are Irish

There has been an increase in the number of new apprenticeships offered to students across a wide range of industry sectors in recent years. Photograph: iStock

Post-Leaving Cert courses, apprenticeships are a valuable alternative to the CAO

Thousands of students drop out of college each year, having made the wrong course choice. Photo: iStock

Thousands of students each year drop out of college after making decisions under exam pressure

Consider the evidence - decide what criteria you should factor into your decision. Photograph: iStockphoto.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the challenge of choosing what to do after you leave school

Timeline for the 2018 college application process

The Leaving Cert will take place from June 6th to 22nd. And the following week is important for considering CAO change-of-mind options. File Photograph: Getty Images

Ask Brian: Under-pressure students likely to need support in the second half of August

Most universities  offer some part-time options, but they may not always lead to a full degree award. Photo: iStock

There are options, though part-time access to mainstream degrees can be limited

Securing a sports scholarship can be a complicated process. File photograph: Getty Images

Ask Brian Mooney: It is a good idea to reach out to Irish student athletes based in America

It is imperative candidates list their choices in the order that they desire them. Photograph: iStockphoto

Education expert Brian Mooney goes through the steps you need to take to make a final decision on your course preferences

Most experts agree that we are only beginning to see the recovery in the construction of domestic housing and apartment market. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: There are a multitude of career options in sector that is expanding again

Schools with a reduction in 2017 class size creates a statistical aberration – they have what seem to be high progression percentage rates precisely because their Leaving Cert student numbers are declining

Schools with significantly falling numbers can have grossly inflated progression rates

Interestingly, more than 21 per cent of the successful students holding medical cards who achieved close to 600 CAO points are new Irish, born throughout the four corners of the planet

Percentage progression rates do not solely reflect success of this year’s Leaving Cert class

College progression rates are lower in more disadvantaged areas of Dublin such as Ballyfermot, Finglas and Clondalkin compared with wealthier parts of the city.

Figures illustrate socio-economic inequality in progression rates to college and university

There is an acute shortage of qualified teachers in a number of subject areas, including STEM and modern languages. Photo: iStock

The Teaching Council spells out the qualifcations required to teach in key areas

There are excellent career and study options available to every school leaver, no matter what grades they achieve. Photo: iStock

Ask Brian: Try easing the pressure by emphasising the range of options she has

Do not sign off on any impact statement from your son’s school unless it clearly states the supports he has received in secondary education. Photograph: iStock

Reduced points are available for students with learning challenges – but be sure prepare your application well

The overall UCD arts and humanities and social sciences offering has been re-imagined and now includes study-abroad opportunities and internships to better equip graduates for the rapidly-evolving job market.

Applicants can choose between the arts programme or social sciences in 2018

Students can finalise their course choices following the completion of their Leaving Cert in June, but cannot add from certain programmes that are listed as “restricted”. Photo: iStock

It’s worth registering now, though there is plenty of time to select college courses

A new International Financial Services (IFS) apprenticeship gives students an opportunity to earn while they learn. Photo: iStock

Apprenticeships now offer school-leavers a route into major firms in the finance sector

Schools and teachers are free to take on the oral exams in this year’s Junior Cert

A union directive requiring schools to boycott oral exams has been suspended

The only way to evaluate whether a college is right for you is to explore all aspects of its life as fully as you can on its open day. Above, the  UCD Sutherland School of Law in UCD, Belfield. Photograph: David Sleator

Open Days give you a great chance to gauge how good a fit your course and college choice will be

Each year hospitality and tourism businesses  look to recruit over 6,000 entry-level employees across all areas of their operations. Photo: iStock

New online programme offers a wealth of advice over how to get started in the industry

What you need to know to make sure you take full advantage of your open day opportunity

Apprenticeships are expanding and offer brilliant opportunities to develop a wide range of skills. File photograph: iStockPhoto

Earn and learn: Apprenticeships offer great options in new areas such as financial services

Before making an application for a grant, it is worth visiting Susi’s website (susi.ie) to complete their eligibility reckoner. This allows students to quickly and easily self-assess whether they may or may not be eligible for a student grant. Photo: iStock

There are a range of assistance options, but they are subject to strict income limits

If you are uncertain about your course, you need to ask yourself do you genuinely want to spend the next three years working hard on those subjects? Photo: iStock

There can be heavy financial consequences depending on when you leave a course

There are shortages of qualified teachers in Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, along with Irish and home economics. Photograph: iStock

A shortage of qualified teachers in key subjects is a real problem across many schools

A total of 61,654 students who sat the Junior Cycle examinations in June can collect their results from their schools this morning and through the online examination results service on examinations.ie from 4pm. File photograph: Getty Images

Majority of subjects record a drop in the number of As awarded at Higher Level

While this year’s figures show greater participation across most higher level Junior Cert subjects, the number of students getting As is down significantly. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

More than 61,500 candidates sat English under new Junior Cycle reform framework

There are more than 50 medical programmes taught through English in the EU and recognised by the Irish Medical Council. Photograph: iStock

Many EU universities offer medical programmes through English

Encourage your child to engage fully in every transition year activity as, collectively, they awaken latent talents. Photograph: iStock

Transition year can be an amazing period of self-discovery for students

Round two offers are available to view on the CAO website from 6am on Thursday. Photograph: Getty images

Institutions in Dublin and Cork offer highest number of second-round courses

There are plenty of options available to those who take a different route and  explore other areas. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Is accepting a college place through the CAO today always the best option?

Many students enter college through the disability access support scheme (Dare) and receive a wide range of structured supports. File photograph: Getty Images

If you have a disability, don’t try to be a hero by trying to get by on your own

Susi provides assistance for approved full-time education in further education, higher education, postgraduate studies and, in some cases, students who wish to study outside of the State

Last year, about 40% of college applicants were entitled to financial assistance from Susi

 Caoimhe Andrews and Evie Byrne, Rathdown students celebrating Leaving Certificate results in Glenageary, Co Dublin. Photograph: Jason Clarke

CAO’s ‘vacant places’ list shows dozens of courses which may still accept applicants

Checking the CAO first round offers .Photograph: Cyril Byrne

All you need to know, from reviewing scripts to being wary of accommodation scams

Entry to the degree course in business and law in UCD is up nine points, to 529. Photograph: Alan Betson

Points have gone up for courses linked to growing economy

Securing the college place on offer is simplicity itself and will take less than a minute. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Weighing the options: there are three possible scenarios when you log into your CAO file

Carl O’Brien, education editor with The Irish Times, guidance counsellor Brian Howard, Minister for Education Richard Bruton, guidance counsellor Deirdre Garrett and Irish Times journalist Éanna Ó Caollaí. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Leaving Cert 2017: Further education colleges offer a diverse array of programmes

The changes introduced to the Leaving Cert in these three core subjects over recent years, such as the allocation of 40 per cent of marks for the oral Irish component, and the awarding of bonus points in maths, has resulted in substantial increases in higher level participation Photograph: Cyril Byrne

New grading system sees major increases in higher-level participation

When your points score is calculated, you can apply it to the courses you have listed on your CAO application. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

If your grade falls below your expectation you can request a review of the scripts

If you are unhappy with a particular grade in any subject in the Leaving Cert, or if there is an identifiable error in the results you got, the State Examinations Commission (SEC) will give you whatever supports you need to rectify the problem. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Viewing all scripts allows students to find the subject with the best chance of an upgrade

Most schools announce in advance what time they will be distributing the Leaving Cert results, in individual envelopes to each candidate. Photograph: Getty Images

New grading system and CAO points structure may cause confusion

 Confidence in property is further reflected in an increase in application numbers for law, where conveyancing transactions are the bedrock of many legal firms’ income stream

Recovery in property has driven demand for places in architecture and construction

A total of 80,345 individuals applied to the CAO this year, of whom approximately 46,000 took the Leaving Cert in June 2017.

First places to be offered to applicants such as those who deferred and mature students

If you have just completed your Leaving Cert do not be spooked into removing course choices based on your perceptions of how you may have performed in the exams. Photograph: Getty Images

Decision time for CAO applicants

If at the end you still have a few minutes left, you can try to increase your mark by at least 5 per cent. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Read Brian Mooney's simple tips for helping you get the most out of your exams

Recent decision to increase nursing undergraduate places should ease some of the pressure facing aspiring nurses. Photograph: iStock

Recent decision to increase undergraduate numbers should ease some of the pressure

The litmus test is what will motivate you to get out of bed on a cold morning next winter. Photograph: iStock

If you’re not sure about your choices, you have until July 1st to rectify the situation

Keep on top of it. Photograph: iStock

Keep on top of your college application process with this calendar of crucial dates

The lure of an immediate wage in areas like hairdressing may be tempting, but it is worth considering the long-term benefit of an internationally recognised award. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: A formal qualification will make it easier to advance in Ireland or abroad

As soon as your exams are over  you’ll have just over a week to finalise your list of course choices. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Advice on how to approach the CAO process and how to get your course choice right

Limerick billionaire JP McManus is to spend €32 million on third-level scholarships for more than 1,000 students from less well-off backgrounds. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

All-Ireland programme open to 125 less well-off students annually over next decade

There are a range of online tools to help students explore their course interests. Photograph: iStock

Online tools can help students identify suitable courses based on their interests

Students should be mindful that some third-level courses have minimum subject entry requirements. Photo: iStock

Be careful: some third-level courses have minimum subject entry requirements

Business graduates will develop a set of generic skills which they can apply throughout their working lives in any career area. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

One in every six 2017 CAO applicants for a level 8 degree lists a business course as their first option

It is possible to apply for a place on a primary school degree programme in Northern Ireland or the UK, and teach in the Republic. Photograph: iStock

It is possible to do so, but he may have conditions attached to his registration

There are a variety of pathways to become a physiotherapist. An increasingly popular option is studying abroad through English. Photograph: iStock

There are alternatives including degrees through English in the Netherlands

If you’ve been studying for the past few weeks and feel that you are losing the energy or motivation to keep to your programme, ask for help. Photograph: iStock

Top tips on how to keep your motivation for study going until your exams this summer

Irish colleges set out criteria for prospective US students which includes an expectation that they have completed a minimum number of years studying set subjects. Photo: iStock

Irish colleges have detailed entry criteria for prospective US students

Orals now account for 40 per cent of the overall marks in Irish.  Photo: iStock

A decent performance in the oral exam will go a long way to meeting entry requirements

Exams scripts for the mocks exams are a vital source of learning ahead of the State exams in June. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire

Ask Brian: Student should get advice from teachers who are experts in their subjects

The intersection between finance and technology has undergone a huge shift which is changing the face of the financial services landscape. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Postgraduate course can bolster skills and competencies relevant to a broad range of occupations

With more than 40 per cent of undergrads going on to postgrad, careers offices in colleges are crucial in advising undergraduates of their options. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Ask yourself what the type of programme you wish to follow: research or taught

Higher levels of education increase employability as well as salary. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Research shows higher levels of education increase your employability as well as salary

A conversion course can be a good option for students who want to move into a new area where they do not have previous experience. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

If you wish to alter your career path, a conversion course might be the right option

There are a wide variety of routes into the world of business other than through the CAO. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The new apprenticeships in accounting and insurance offer great on-the-job training

This September will see new specifications for Irish, art and the four modern foreign language subjects being introduced

Ask Brian: Reforms aim to provide broader snapshot of students’ achievements and skills

When your daughter realises that chatting 24-7 could lead to her failing to secure the grades she needs to be close to her boyfriend next year, it may have a dramatic impact on her outlook. Photograph: iStock

Final course choices are six months away – an eternity in the life of an 18-year-old

Maynooth: At the Co Kildare university, 53 per cent of students receive Susi grants. Photograph: Eric Luke

Financial obstacles may be driving students away from further education and training

Many students who have narrowly missed out on medicine take the Hpat again in an attempt to increase their points. Photograph: Getty

Taking the Hpat again is an option but beware the hefty financial implications

Students thinking of dropping out of their course must act quickly to avoid incurring hefty charges. Photograph: iStock

If he withdraws before February 1st he will avoid clocking up significant charges

Health insurance policies for persons under the age of 55 usually have a waiting period of 26 weeks in which no claims can be made. Photo: iStock

Insurance for student visas is determined by the Garda National Immigration Bureau

Trinity College Dublin. Insurers have been told international students based in the State for more than a year are required to take out full health cover, which can cost up to €1,000

New measure a ‘big blow’ for Government plans to attract more students from abroad

Properly researched, everyone can find the course or career path which suits them. Photograph: Getty Images

Still confused? There’s no need to panic. You can finalise your choices up until July 1st

Prospective students who think they may be eligible for a grant should research their options by visiting Susi’s website. Photograph: Getty

Applications to awarding authority open in April but students should do homework now

Most colleges participate in Dare and Hear schemes, but even the ones that don’t offer a range of supports, including disability support services. Photograph: Getty

Reduced points places and extra college support are available for some applicants

Leaving Cert applicants for medical courses have a one-in-six chance of success, so don’t spent too much time on Hpat preparations. Photograph: iStock

Focus on sample papers which are provided as part of your registration fee

 UCD campus in Belfield:  it is normal for mature students to feel apprehensive about applying for college. Photograph: Alan Betson

About 12,000 mature students are set to apply for college courses this year

Register your intention now to seek a CAO college place

Register now but you can hold off making your final choices until the end of June

“The most important thing to consider is what subject matter you most enjoy engaging with in school.” Photograph: Eric Luke

It is vital for students to choose carefully in order to avoid possibility of dropping out

Growing number of students take up offers of European courses taught through English

Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Timeline for the 2017 college application process

Don’t have a clue what to do after the Leaving? Don’t panic, you don’t have to decide on the rest of your life, just what you will do for the next few years. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Wnen it comes to choice, don’t be overwhelmed by the challenge of choosing what you do next

A  points scale  based on the new Leaving Cert grading system comes into force this year and now is the time to plan. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

A reduction in the artificially inflated range of choices would lead to lower drop-out rates

Consider your options: Once you have decided on your course or area of study you should consider whether you want to study in Ireand or further afield. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Register now with the CAO, but you have until July 1st to make a final decision on your course preferences

 It is eminently possible for mature students to secure a degree with the right  preparation. Photograph: iStock

You need to prepare yourself for the task ahead in order to succeed

“Fulfilment in teaching comes primarily through engagement with your students and not in monetary terms.” Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA

Ask Brian: Anyone who secures a teaching qualification has skills for a wide range of jobs

Most students  are in a constant state of flux regarding their current career and future aspirations. Photograph: iStock

There’s no need to panic. Career choices are one step on a long and evolving journey

For a school where the numbers taking the Leaving Cert remain relatively constant, we can deduct 22 per cent from their published progression rate to calculate the true progression rate of the 2016 class. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Schools with dramatically falling numbers can have grossly inflated progression rates

Each year the tables show very large numbers of students who go to college attended schools in socially advantaged communities, and that they tend to opt predominantly for universities and teacher training. Photograph: iStock

Explaining the progression charts of Irish secondary schools

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