My daughter missed out on college and is down in the dumps. What next?

Ask Brian: Students should only apply for courses they are fully committed to

My daughter missed out on an offer of a place in primary teaching following round one of the CAO offers in August, simply because she forgot to accept her place by the close-of-offer date. She is now slouching around aimlessly at home, unsure how to proceed. How can she recover her primary teaching place at this stage?

Your question has left me struggling for words to advise you. It defies belief how someone who has a full week to complete a 30-second process online could “forget” to do so, but that is what happened and all you and your daughter can do now is move on. To answer your question directly, there is no possibility of her recovering her place in 2019. That ship has sailed.

Reflecting on your story, part of me questions whether your daughter is having second thoughts about her offer of a place in primary school teacher training and for some reason could not find the courage to tell you the truth.

Another part of me thinks that if she genuinely forgot to accept her place, she is nowhere near the level of maturity required to survive a university degree programme, with the high levels of self-motivation it requires.


The CAO application process for the 2020 academic year opens in the first week of November, and if she wishes to re-apply for the primary teaching course she was offered this year, she should place it at the top of her level 8 list.

Unfortunately, she has no entitlement to this course place, as she is in open competition with all the 2019-20 applicants. As with all courses offered by colleges through the CAO, the level of demand for places and the Leaving Cert performance of those students will decide what the cut-off points score will be for the coming year.

The good news is that although she can submit her application from early November, she has until July 1st, 2020, to finalise the list of course preferences. She has, therefore, nine months to reflect on her options.

I don’t need to tell you that providing her with free board and lodgings while she slouches around might not be the best preparation for the challenges of adult life. Might I suggest that she try to secure a part-time job to fund her current personal and social activities. The challenges of working life at the bottom of the career ladder might help her to value the opportunities which securing a university education still offers her.

As parents, you should allow for the possibility that your daughter may be reconsidering her course options and make it clear to her that if she is, that you would welcome and accept that she must be 100 per cent committed to whichever course she ultimately decides to seek.