What steps you should take as you prepare for the next stage of your education
Think carefully as you plan out your next steps
While college will be fun – you will meet a lot of new people and will undoubtedly have the opportunity to pursue your interests whether through joining societies or getting involved in sports or other pursuits, don’t forget that you are there to further your education. Photograph: iStock
The wait is almost over as the day of the much-anticipated first round of college offers has finally arrived. No matter whether you receive the offer for the course you applied for or didn’t do as well as expected (there are plenty of options still open to you), there are some steps you need to take as you prepare for the next stage of your education.
You should have read the CAO Handbook by now and taken note of the important deadlines and restrictions that may apply to you or your course. The CAO advises that applicants must treat all correspondence from CAO as extremely important and notify them immediately (through cao.ie) if there are any errors or omissions recorded in your application documents.
1. Make the deadline
If you receive the offer you had hoped for, you will review your options and when you are happy to accept your allocated course, then the process is straightforward. As per the CAO’s instructions, you can do so online or by post (but not both). If you accept your offer online, you will receive an acknowledgement email, and you can check that your acceptance has been recorded online at cao.ie via the ‘My Application’ facility. If you accept by post and wish to receive confirmation of your acceptance from CAO, you must include a self-addressed and stamped postcard. Important Note: Round One acceptances must be submitted by 5.15pm on August 23rd.
2. Consider your options
Don’t worry if you didn’t get the course you expected – many don’t. Choices you listed on your CAO form should approximate your interests and accepting a lower-preference course now will not prevent you from receiving an offer of a course higher up on your list in a subsequent round. Note that you can move up your list of preferences, not down. If you don’t accept an offer, however, you run the risk of not receiving any other offers in later rounds. Important Note: Round Two offers will be issued on August 28th from 10am and acceptances must be submitted by 5.15pm just two days later, on August 30th.
3. Alternative routes
If you don’t get any of the choices you listed on your CAO application form or have had a late change of mind, there are plenty of other routes that you can take. There are some 30,000 places available in further education colleges throughout the country. Many provide high-quality tuition and on-the-job experience, while apprenticeships offer a chance to earn and learn. Many of these courses also offer an alternative route to attaining a degree in college. The Irish Times will publish a special guide to these courses in a special Career Choices supplement on August 19th.
4. Take a year out
If you are happy with the course but want to defer your place, you need to act immediately. You do not accept your offer – instead, you must email or write to the admissions office of the university or college. Give your name as it appears on your CAO application, quote your CAO application number and the course code of the offer you wish to defer, and set out why you wish to do so. Note: there is no guarantee they will allow the deferral.
5. Prepare for college
Tús maith leath na hoibre! Of course, if this old adage were always true, then everything would be a breeze! Still, the legwork will pay off and now is the time to prepare for the practicalities of college. Things will seem like they are happening at a lightning pace so there’s no harm in being prepared. You could do worse than visit the campus to get a feel for it. Most will provide tours and induction days for freshers, and these are well worth attending as there will be a lot to absorb.
The hunt for student accommodation is well and truly under way. If you need somewhere to live, your first port of call should be the college. Places in student halls of residence fill up quickly – many are already full. Your college and students’ union should also have a list of reasonably priced rooms and digs. Privately-run student residences are also an option, though these are expensive. Be sure to check your lease: some private accommodation can exceed the student academic year so be prepared to have to rent throughout the holidays if you wish to keep the keys. Start off by reading our accommodation guide in this supplement.
7. Read our study guide
While college will be fun – you will meet a lot of new people and will undoubtedly have the opportunity to pursue your interests whether through joining societies or getting involved in sports or other pursuits, don’t forget that you are there to further your education. Familiarise yourself with the library, locate your course department and get an understanding early on of what is expected of you – how many essays/exams you need to deliver/sit.
8. Still not sure?
No matter what you want to do at this juncture, there are plenty of options available for you to choose from. You might choose to take a year out, or perhaps change course entirely and apply to study something completely different. You should feel free to contact your school guidance counsellor for some advice or contact our helpline at irishtimes.com/resultsandoffers2019