Leaving Cert advice: How to overcome results roadblocks

Guidance counsellors give advice on alternative routes to your desired course

Expert guidance counsellors Brian Howard and Deirdre Garrett were working on irishtimes.com address reader queries about Leaving Cert results and the CAO.

If I accept a first-round offer, am I able to apply for a course through the available places facility?

Yes, absolutely. After the first round of offers, the facility works on a weekly schedule. Click on the vacant place section of the CAO website and you will see all the details and instructions on how to apply.

If I don't get what I want on Monday, and I appeal some papers and my points go up to what I needed when I get the results back in October, can I still go into my first choice late in the year/can they hold my place?


They will offer you a place on their course subject to availability. If the course is full up, you will have to defer taking up your place until the 2018 academic year.

My son has applied for a course with a minimum O4 grade in Maths. He got O5. He has heard of a student from his old school who got around this issue by completing a module in his first semester to meet the requirements. Could this possibly be true?

Generally, entry requirements are non-negotiable, ie if you don’t meet them you don’t matriculate. There are some colleges who provide second-chance maths exams for those who didn’t meet the maths requirements for their course. I think the best thing to do here is to ring the admissions office of the college in question and seek their guidance on this, just to be sure.

My daughter got 461 points, has Dare eligibility, and chose Law in Trinity, Law in UCD and Arts in UCD as her one, two, three choices. If she accepts a place in Law in either Trinity or UCD, can she subsequently change course during the year to Arts in UCD?

Higher education institutions each have their own transfer policies. Many allow a transfer when a candidate has achieved enough points and available places exist on the course to which they are looking to transfer.

I would advise you to contact the admissions office of the particular university once you receive an offer.

My son has failed Maths. Is it too late for him to apply for a PLC course in GTI?

Candidates will be able to apply for PLC courses up until mid-September. Popular courses fill up fast. I recommend that you contact the further education college as soon as possible.

Is it possible to use this year's points to reapply to college next year? I made a mess of my CAO application. I want Galway but only put it as my first and fifth options and fall one point short of my first choice. Dublin is choice two but I can't go there.

Nobody knows the points for 2017 courses. This will not be known until Monday. Don’t lose hope.

The answer to your question is a yes. You can use this year’s points when applying to CAO in 2018.

Our son applied for Medicine in UCD and RCSI, but probably did not get the points. How can he go into Med as a graduate ?

Candidates for graduate medicine apply through the CAO. Eligibility will be on the basis of their degree and GAMSAT score. Fees can be high. It might be worth looking into.

My son doesn't think his combined HPAT/Leaving Cert is sufficient to get offered Medicine. He has registered to sit the IMAT in London in September but won't know the result until October. In the meantime, should he accept his CAO and Susi grant?

That’s a personal choice. One should study a course in which they have an interest. The fact that he put it on his CAO list suggests that he has interest. I would recommend that he researches it thoroughly. He should speak with course lecturers and students who are currently on the course.

Look into whether there is a date at which your son could drop out without suffering financial costs or without using up his registration fee for next year (if he isn’t happy in the course). His Susi grant would be claimed from September to this date for 2017. He would be entitled to a Susi grant the following year, minus the payments already received in 2017.

My daughter is unlikely to receive an offer for the paramedics course in UL. She was going to do a pre-paramedics PLC course, but we have now learned UL will not accept this next year. Are there other courses/career paths for EMTs/paramedics?

You can train as a paramedic through the HSE. These positions tend to be advertised on publicjobs.ie.

EMT courses can be done throughout the country. Probably best to search close to your area.

My daughter wanted to do Occupational Therapy in Trinity but hasn’t secured enough points. Is there a PLC course which she could do this year that will allow her to apply for this course next year or what would you suggest as another option?

As far as I am aware, Trinity Occupational Therapy is not a Fetac-linked course and so there would be no PLC course linked to it. I would suggest giving TCD admissions and TCD Occupational Therapy a ring just to clarify if they have any other entry routes, be they direct or indirect. It’s better to have a conversation with them just in case.

There is a postgraduate OT course in Limerick. You just need to have any undergraduate level 8 degree in any discipline at grade 2.2 and complete the HPAT Ireland. The only other option is to study it in the UK, at undergraduate or postgraduate level.

Is it an option to repeat a couple of subjects and combine the points with your 2017 Leaving Cert results?

You can repeat individual subjects. However, your new grade can only be used to satisfy minimum entry requirements. You cannot add grades from 2018 to grades received in 2017.

You can, however, repeat all six subjects. You would sit exams in June 2018. You can then compare your 2018 points to 2017 and choose the best one.

Where would you recommend to repeat in Dublin apart from the Institute of Education? For courses such as Medicine in particular.

This is a list from CareersPortal of schools/colleges that provide a repeat option. It is very hard to recommend one as they all have their own strengths. Maybe go through the list below and form your own opinion as to what might work best for you.

Available in Schools [17]

Bruce College

Coláiste Mhuire, Mullingar

Marino College

O’Connell’s School

O’Fiaich College

Portlaoise College

Ringsend College

Rockwell College

St Flannan’s College

St Joseph’s CBS

St Joseph’s College

St Laurence College

The Institute of Education

Whitehall College of Further Education

Yeats College Galway

Yeats College Waterford

Available in Further Education Colleges [12]

Pearse College of Further Education

Plunket College

Rathmines College of Further Education

Bray Institute of Further Education

Ringsend College

Carlow Institute of Further Education

Cork College of Commerce

Abbeyleix Further Education Centre

Northeast College

Kilroy’s College

Limerick Tutorial College

Ashfield College

Who can I contact for emergency career guidance advice, preferably for free or at low cost?

In the first instance I would suggest your school if you have access to one. If not, I would suggest contacting the Institute of Guidance Counsellors on 01-6761975, who may maintain a list of private practitioners.