Unpredictable points make for an emotional roller coaster ride

Reaction: ‘Some of my friends are going too. It’s very exciting’

On a high: Alison Peate, Rachel Finn and Emma Cahalane celebrate their Leaving Cert results at Christ King school, Cork last week. Photograph: Darragh Kane

On a high: Alison Peate, Rachel Finn and Emma Cahalane celebrate their Leaving Cert results at Christ King school, Cork last week. Photograph: Darragh Kane


It was a case of one last sleepless night for Emma Whelan of St Dominic’s College in Ballyfermot, Dublin, as she waited to find out whether she had achieved her dream of getting a place in science at UCD.

Given the points hikes in science over the past six years, she wasn’t very hopeful.

“I found out last week I got 450 points, which is really good, but science topped 500 for the first time last year so I was nervous.”

Fortunately, Emma got some very good advice from her career guidance counsellor last year, who told her that as a student from a Deis (designated disadvantaged) school, she was entitled to apply through the Hear (Higher Education Access Route).

“Through the Hear scheme I was able to get in on 10 per cent lower points, although I still didn’t know until this morning whether I had enough with 450. I didn’t get a wink of sleep on Sunday night. I was so delighted to get the offer of science in UCD yesterday.

“I also got a scholarship of €1,500 a year. I’m absolutely delighted. I’m going to spend a week living on campus next week to do mock lectures before term starts. Some of my friends are going too. It’s very exciting.”

Maximum points
It was always going to be a sure thing for Cork student Rachel Finn. With close to maximum points, there weren’t too many courses beyond her reach.

“I got my first choice, nutritional science in UCC, which went up by 10 points on last year to 500, but I had enough. I’m thrilled,” says Rachel, who went to Christ King school in Cork.

Patrick Hannon from Presentation College in Athenry, Co Galway also easily cleared the points requirement for his chosen course, as physiotherapy in UCD dropped 15 points from last year.

While science courses have gone up this year, most paramedical courses went down.

“The points were 550 for the first round last year. I got 595, so wasn’t too worried and then they went down again this year, so I’m in!

“I’m going to move up to Dublin and I’m on a waiting list for accommodation on campus. I’m looking forward to playing hurling at UCD.

“Not many of my friends will be going – UCD wouldn’t be the first choice of most Galway students. I like the idea of a big campus though.”

Cork native William O’Flaherty had a bit of a shock when he looked online yesterday and saw that his first choice – biomedical engineering at Cork Insitute of Technology (CIT) – had jumped by 50 CAO points.

“I got 445 points in the Leaving and last year my course was at 390. I thought I was well clear.

“In the end I just had five points to spare, but I’m in, and that’s the main thing. My plan B was to do the same course at Level 7 and then try and get the degree in five years. This is better.

“My friend wanted pharmacy and thought he hadn’t a chance with the points he got. Then they came down this year and he got in.

“Same thing happened to another friend who was hoping for – but not too confident that she would get – a course in primary teaching. The points went down and she got in.”

William’s girlfriend is at CIT and he’s spent plenty of time there over the past year.

“I’ve been thinking about this every day for a year. I can’t wait for the next three weeks to fly by.”