I’m worried I won’t get the CAO points I need. Are there alternatives?

Ask Brian: Further education is excellent alternative route into many degree courses

Further education courses offers excellent alternative routes into many degree courses. Photograph: iStock

Further education courses offers excellent alternative routes into many degree courses. Photograph: iStock

 

I am extremely nervous as to whether points will go up for my first preference business course. If I don’t get it, I don’t want to repeat or sit the delayed Leaving Cert in November. Are there any other options available?

You will have received your results yesterday and you will find out if your grades are sufficient when the CAO publishes colleges offers online on Friday afternoon.

You may be pleasantly surprised and receive one of your highest course preferences. If you don’t, it is by no means the end of the world and in no way indicates that you cannot quickly proceed to one of these courses.

I met with a very disappointed sixth year student in August 2019 who like you aspired to a number of high points business degree programmes in UCD and Trinity, but came nowhere near the CAO points score required.

Over 4,000 other FE graduates were offered reserved places in CAO programmes

I advised him to apply for a further education (FE) business level five programme in one of his local colleges. He did so, secured eight distinctions in his business course modules and was offered his first choice business degree programme in Trinity in the FE round of CAO offers at the beginning of August.

In fact, over 4,000 other FE graduates were offered reserved places in CAO programmes in that round of offers in early August, many of them in courses where the published CAO points requirements are hundreds higher than those students own Leaving Cert results.

As you mentioned above, many of the previous graduates of your school took this FE route into college, and there is no reason why you should not consider applying now to one of your local colleges to secure a place in case your current CAO application does not deliver what you hope for.

Consider it insurance for the anxiety you and all your fellow Leaving Cert students are currently experiencing

The application process is simplicity itself. Go to Qualifax (www.qualifax.ie) and search under further education (FE) business programmes in your locality. Identify one or more of interest to you. Then proceed directly to that colleges own website and apply online for that course. There is usually no application fee at this stage.

If there are still places available on the programme, places are offered on a 1st come 1st serve basis, you will be contacted, interviewed either online or in the college and offered a reserved place, at which point you will have to pay a modest fee (€30-€50) to secure your place.

Consider it insurance for the anxiety you and all your fellow Leaving Cert students are currently experiencing. Given the uncertainty over how courses will be delivered in universities and institutes of technology this year, having a FE option might be a wise move.