Students urged to choose courses which best suit interests and skills


Students should research their college choices over the coming weeks and tactically opt for courses that best suit their interests and skills, according to the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, the representative body for second-level school leaders.

Next Sunday, January 20th, is the deadline for discounted online Central Applications Office applications but students have until February 1st to apply for a college place.

Clive Byrne, director of the association, urged students to consult widely ahead of the deadline for CAO applications, and to prioritise their preferences, not the required points, when making up their minds on college courses.

“Students should choose college courses that best suit their skills and interests, rather than opting for high-points programmes to impress family and peers and even those courses that offer the most direct route to today’s jobs market.

“In three or four years’ time the jobs market could be very different so unless students are especially interested in specialist courses like architecture or dentistry, choosing a more generalised programme – humanities or science, for example – can keep students’ options open at this stage. This might be a more tactical approach.”

Mr Byrne said many students make the mistake of basing their choices on last year’s points and, consequently, are not offered the course they really want because their preference is too far down the list.

“Students should focus on prioritising their genuine course preferences, not the points they believe they will get, when filling out the CAO form. Try to fill out the whole form and include qualifications across all levels.”

Talk to family

Mr Byrne urged students to talk to family, friends, guidance counsellors and college students taking courses in which they are interested before making up their minds over the coming weeks.

The fee for an online CAO application is €40. Students who apply before January 20th pay €25.