My daughter says her CAO deadline is in March. Is she right?

Ask Brian: Some courses have early deadlines, but most options stay open until July 1st

CAO deadlines: most applicants can change their minds until July 1st. Photograph: iStock/Getty

CAO deadlines: most applicants can change their minds until July 1st. Photograph: iStock/Getty


I’m in a panic because my daugher keeps changing her mind about her CAO course options. I read somewhere that the deadline to apply for some of her courses is March 1st. Is this true?

Most CAO applicants can use the “change of mind” service for their course selections between May 6th and July 1st. You can use this online facility as many times as you like to add, remove or re-order your courses.

However, your daughter is correct: there are important March deadlines if you are a mature student or applying for what’s known as a restricted course.

If your daughter is a mature applicant (over 23), she should make sure she has all her courses listed in order of preference on her CAO application.

If she didn’t get this done by the February 1st deadline, she has an opportunity to make these changes for a fee of €10 before 5:15pm this coming Friday, March 1st. She should simply log in to her account via the CAO website and follow the instructions to change her course.

She will also need to make sure she has fully completed the “mature applicant” section of the online CAO application form. If she hasn’t already done so, she should forward the necessary supporting documents to CAO immediately, as it has to arrive by this Friday 1st March at 5:15pm.

There are eleven sections to be filled out, ranging from educational qualifications to work experience, hobbies and interests, a personal statement and references. When writing her personal statement, it’sadvisable to prepare this statement in advance and then copy and paste the final version into the application form.

If your daughter is sitting the Leaving Cert this year (or is under 23 and applying on the basis of results from previous years), she will only need to use this “change of course choices” facility if she has forgotten to include a restricted course on her application.

Restricted courses are courses that are identified in the CAO handbook and often require an additional assessment or portfolio which may take place in March or April, such as art and design courses.

From 2019, medicine/grad med is no longer considered a restricted course. CAO applicants can introduce a medicine course using the change of mind facility or on a late application. Please note: a Hpat/Gamsat exam is also required to meet the entry criteria.

If your daughter is under 23 years of age and applying for special access under either the Hear (socio-economic disadvantage) and/or Dare (diagnosed disability) schemes she must take action now if she has not already done so.

The Hear section of the CAO application form before 5:15pm on 1 March and supporting documents should reach CAO by 1st April at 5:15pm.

If your daughter is making a Dare application, she must fully complete relevant form by 1 March at 5:15pm and send supporting documents to the CAO no later than 1 April at 5:15pm.

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