Some students are looking to Europe due to high entry requirements for many disciplines in Ireland. Photogragh: iStock

Looming deadline for discounted online registration expires on Monday at 5.15pm

 University College Dublin, Belfield: Choosing the wrong course has real consequences. Thousands drop out of college in their first year. Photograph: Alan Betson

It is wrong to view third-level options totally through prism of points requirements

A grant from the State’s grants agency can be a crucial factor in a student’s decision on whether to accept a course offer. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Make sure to do your financial calculations before choosing a course

Keep note of all important dates in the 2020 college application process. Photograph: iStock

Timeline for this year’s college application process

The points for any given third-level course can rise or fall each year and is determined by the law of supply and demand.  Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

A reduction in the artificially inflated range of choices would lead to lower drop-out rates

‘Just one step at a time constitutes perfect career planning.’ File photograph: Getty

Can you put the facts about yourself together to see what picture may emerge?

Photograph: iStock

College application process can seem intimidating and complex – here’s how to do it

Supporting your child through the Leaving Cert and college applications process can be a daunting task. Photograph: iStock

No need to panic - there is plenty of time to decide exactly what you want to do

With unemployment at an all-time low and thousands of jobs set to be created this year,  opportunities for school leavers have never been higher. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Parents’ perception of the education options for their children are often outdated

The further education sector can be a great route to secure additional skills. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Reflect on what you think are your key strengths and competencies

There are a number of simple steps which policy-makers can take to help fulfill the potential of the education system and pupils over the coming year. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: For a change, here’s my wish list for the education sector in the coming year

My son is in fourth class in our local primary school and is struggling with maths.

There are some new online resources available linked to the curriculum

Sacramental preparation takes places during the school day in most national schools. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: This is a dilemma shared by many teachers because faith formation is part of the school day in most schools

The data reveals Ireland’s exceptionally high third-level participation rate, which is among the highest in the world. File photograph: iStock

Grind schools may be drawing students away from some fee-paying secondary schools

The introduction of transition year in the 1980s was transformative in terms of the development of wide range of students’ life skills. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Some schools still seem to think TY does not fully engage pupils

Photograph: iStock

How is it mathematically possible for schools to show a progression rate of more than 100%?

The issue of communicating sensitive information concerning students with additional needs   is highly sensitive and logistically complex one. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Sharing personal data on children has become more complex due to GDPR

It can be helpful to inform the school of difficulties, and to engage with any supports they offer. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Secure family and school supports and prepare to take away treats

Students from Mount Carmel Secondary School, King’s Inns Street, Rotunda, Dublin, celebrate their Leaving Cert results. Photograph: Tom Honan

Ask Brian: Clerical errors can often be to blame – but there may also be a hidden factor

History will no longer be an optional subject for students completing the Junior Cycle. Photograph: iStock

Much depends on how much teaching time is allocated to history under new changes

Difficulties are a very common for young people moving from the highly managed environment of school to the self-management of college life. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Repeat students who leave courses after October 31st pay a penalty

Students from other jurisdictions can apply for college courses in Ireland  through the CAO system. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Students from other jurisdictions can apply through the CAO system

Students  should undertake  basic research about the college and its courses  prior to the open day. Photograph: iStock

Open days give you a great chance to gauge how good a fit your course and college choice will be

During open day engage with existing students if they are on campus. Colleges that are comfortable allowing you to meet current students usually provide a high quality of service.

Preparation can help you take full advantage of open day opportunities

Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Courses abroad can pose a major challenge for ‘spoon-fed’ students

There is a false public perception that all successful Dare applicants secure a reduction in CAO points requirements. Photo: iStock

Ask Brian: Dare scheme assists college applicants with disabilities - but entry points depend on individual courses

While it can be difficult to choose, students should only apply for courses they are fully committed to. Photograph: iStock

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

Irish higher-education institutions accept A-levels, though candidates should be careful to ensure all required paperwork is completed properly. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Entry is based on a candidate’s scores for their best four subjects

Choosing a CAO course in specific subjects for post-primary teaching is a delicate balancing act. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Love of learning is essential to a sustainable career in teaching

Marks for practical elements of two exams – agricultural science and music – cannot be appealed under State Examinations Commission rules. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Ask Brian: Marks for practical elements of some exams cannot be appealed

Some 25,000 students will attend the The Irish Times Higher Options expo at the RDS over the course of the three-day event. Photograph: Alan Betson

The value of the expo to school-leavers depends entirely on their level of preparation ahead of the RDS event

Students with additional learning needs can get specialist support at third level. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Students with additional learning needs can get specialist support at third level

There’s little doubt that school costs are increasing for many, but the  capacity of the State to order schools to reduce costs is questionable. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Capacity of the State to order schools to reduce costs is questionable

Forty five apprenticeship programmes are currently available, spanning the engineering, construction, motor, electrical, finance, hospitality and food, biopharma, logistics, property services and ICT industry sectors. Photograph: iStock

Practical, hands-on courses offer career progression and skills enhancement outside the traditional CAO system

If you have narrowly missed out, one option is to appeal your exam result. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Disappointed? There are plenty of options for students who did not get preferred course

The 50 places on offer in economics and finance in UCD have all been filled by students who have secured more than 600 CAO points. Photograph: Getty Images

Brexit uncertainty, the growing economy and higher grades evident in CAO points

‘Where you receive two offers – on your level-8 higher-degree list and your level-7 or -6 list – the position is a little more complex. You can only accept one course, so you must choose between the two offers.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Weighing the options: there are three possible scenarios when you log into your CAO file

Many Leaving Cert students are still uncertain where their academic interests lie, and often proceed to third-level out of the fear of being left behind or losing contact with their peer group. Photograph: iStock

It is worth taking time to think about your options as there is no one route into a career

CAO applicants who receive an offer of a course other than their first preference should reflect very carefully before accepting. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Most students who drop out during first year do so due to lack of interest in the course

Annmarie Fay and her daughter Ellie   after getting her Leaving Cert results at Mount Carmel Secondary School, King’s Inns Street in Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan

Act quickly if you want to appeal a grade or sit a special second-chance maths exam

A third of students are now taking higher level maths with the vast majority of them securing bonus points. Photograph: iStock

Steady increase in numbers taking higher level papers

There is no charge for viewing a script and no limit to the number of scripts you can view. Photograph: iStock

Check your scripts if you think you should have received a better grade

Once the CAO knows the number of places for every course on offer, it enters that data into its computer ssstem to determine what offers will be made to you online at 2pm on Thursday, August 15th.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Thousands of prospective students who applied for third-level courses will receive offers this week

‘Whatever your results, accept them as a fair reflection of your work over the past six years.’

The 2019 results are out a day earlier than in previous years and students can choose how to collect them

The jury is out still out on the impact of learning using iPads. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: The jury is out – but it depends on how they are used and the quality of learning

Once you receive your paper read it carefully and fully before you do anything else. Start to sketch out, at the back of your answer book, the answers to every question you are planning to answer

It’s normal for Junior and Leaving students to feel overwhelmed by stress. Some simple tips can help you feel better prepared

Would you start a marathon on a whim? Selecting a college course requires the same level of planning and commitment.  Photograph: iStockphoto

Here’s how you choose the best course and the right college for you

Timeline for the 2019 college application process

Young teachers have little hope of being able to afford a home in the capital nowadays. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: There is a strong case to ensure we provide affordable housing for critical public-sector workers

Sport regularly tops students’ aptitude profiles. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Sport often tops students’ aptitude profiles – though few go on to study it

Ifyou dropped from higher- to ordinary-level maths recently, you may have forgotten that a grade H4 at higher level is a minimum requirement for some choices.

Brian Mooney on how to approach the CAO process and get your course choice right

Irish mothers can play a crucial role in helping to put their children on a career path. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: There are plenty of options within the greater Dublin area

There is still time to use the coming weeks effectively for the exams. Photograph: iStock

Leaving and Junior Certificate students should stay calm and focused in the final four weeks before the exams, writes Brian Mooney

CAO applicants should consider checking the updated course handbook  for new courses that have come available in recent times. Photograph: iStock

The application deadline is May 1st – but applicants can change courses up to July 1st

While they may be titled differently, all business qualifications deliver a wide range of courses common to all institutions.

One in every eight 2019 CAO applicants for a level 8 degree lists a business course as their first option

School principals are often left holding the ultimate responsibility for its implementation. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Principals will face more demands on their time on foot of reforms

There are plenty of  law degrees of very high standing right across the higher education sector. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: More students are applying to study law this year so points are likely to rise

There have been  numerous reports of children’s attendance at school being restricted to the bare minimum number of hours each day. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Limiting a child’s access to schooling is a failure by the education system

Guidance counsellors regularly provide one-on-one support to students in distress. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Guidance counsellors are qualified to provide one-on-one support

The timing of the Leaving Cert results and CAO offers will shift this year.

Ask Brian: Students who wish to view their exams scripts will need to be present

Students born outside Ireland are exempt from Irish requirements for entry to National University of Ireland colleges. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Exemptions depend on how long a pupil has been out of Irish education system

For many, the option of undertaking a postgraduate programme, which will add to and complement their existing skills, is one they need to consider.

Postgraduate programme will add set of cross-sectoral skills to enhance employability

The challenge to third level institutions in making the case for postgraduate studies has become progressively more difficult as the economy improved in recent  years.

Why would a graduate consider starting a postgraduate programme when employment prospects are looking so good?

There is no need to panic or rush to make a decision. Your daughter has until July 1st to make her CAO course choices. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Schools have a legal obligation to ensure pupils have access to guidance

Competition has increased, so many graduates go on to  enhance their skill set. Photograph: iStock

Ask yourself what type of programme you wish to follow: research or taught

Choosing to convert disciplines prior to seeking to enter the labour market is a perfectly rational decision.

If you wish to alter your career path, a conversion course might be the right option

Many young Irish students have completed primary school teaching programmes abroad and returned to teach in our schools. Photograph: iStock

There are lots of options but graduates will need to pass an Irish language test

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

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

Prospective pilots require a range of aptitude and skills possessed by only a small cohort of interested applicants. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: It may be highly competitive but there are a number of training routes

The leisure and fitness industry continues to experience rapid growth and there are lots of opportunities. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: It makes sense to invest extra time for professional quality training

There are lots of options - just be sure your degree meets Teaching Council requirements. Photo: iStock

There are lots of options - just be sure your degree meets Teaching Council requirements

Language requirements for entry to third level vary, but exemptions are available. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Rules vary across colleges and individual programmes

Many third-level institutions set aside places in their courses for students coming from a PLC background. Photograph: David Sleator

Many colleges set aside places for students who have completed Post-Leaving Cert courses

Trust your instincts, don’t be overinfluenced by the plans of others – particularly your friends’ plans. You will make lots of new friends, wherever and whatever you end up studying. Photograph: Getty Images

CAO countdown: Research your options thoroughly – and then trust your instincts

There are many routes to a third-level qualification. Photograph: iStock

Register your details now – you can determine your final course preferences later

It is perfectly normal to tell your guidance counsellor at this point that you have no idea now what you will do after the Leaving Cert.

The first significant career choice you make will not necessarily be life-determining

It is perfectly normal for Leaving Cert students at this stage to still be unsure about what course options to take. Photograph: iStock

College is just one of many options but It’s worth registering in case of a change of mind

Be aware of key dates if applying for college in 2019. Photograph: iStock

Timeline for the 2019 college application process

Think of what your child’s strongest aptitudes are and help them identify educational and/or training options that are in tune with them. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Avoid the traps: Parents can offer vital support, but their knowledge is often outdated

The qualifications of teachers who qualified abroad are assessed by the Teaching Council to ensure they are of a comparable standard to Irish  programmes. Photograph: iStock

The Teaching Council assesses the qualifications of out-of-State teachers

Students in Northern Ireland are entitled to apply for coursessthrough the CAO but are often unaware this is an option. Photograph: iStock

NI residents may apply – though how these rights will be affected by Brexit is unclear

Apprenticeships, or “earn and learn” options, offer a valuable alternative to college. Photo: iStock

Modern apprenticeships offer a valuable alternative route to higher level qualifications

The only explanation for schools who consistently seem to perform at over the 100 per cent participation rate in CAO college courses is that some of their students are being counted twice. Photograph: iStock

Schools with dramatically falling numbers can have grossly inflated progression rates

The fact that 16 per cent of school-leavers do not apply for a CAO college place is not an indication of failure. They may be planning to pursue a further-education course, which is more appropriate to their career goals. Photograph: iStock

School figures also account for all students who sat the Leaving Cert in previous years

The proportion of school leavers heading to college is now edging towards 60 per cent. Photograph: iStock

State’s exceptionally high college-going rates vary dramatically depending on social class

The good news is that all the information about college courses is out there if you know where to look. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: I can’t find a third-level course in the area I’m interested in. Can you help?

Many schools will continue to ignore their role as data controller in the cases of adult students taking the Leaving Cert.  Photograph: iStock

Schools are ignoring obligation to seek students’ consent before sharing data

Choosing the right college course doesn’t have to an anxious and stressful process. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Students don’t have to choose careers – just courses that match their interests, aptitudes and abilities

Erasmus placements are particularly helpful for improving foreign language skills. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Erasmus placements boost language skills and job opportunities

UCD has allowed students with upgrades to be accepted on to courses after September 30th this year on an “exceptional basis”. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Ask Brian: He can move to a higher preference after an upgrade – if there are spaces

There are no more powerful institutions in Ireland than the school management bodies and our teachers’ union. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Legislation for grievance procedures was never enacted – but new law should help

Don’t be despondent in any way that reducing his subjects at this stage will limit his choices in the future. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: The move from first to second year can be a big step up for some students

When exploring college options, be aware that the content of the course is only a small part of what you will experience when you arrive on registration day. Photograph: iStock

Open days give you a great chance to gauge how good a fit your course and college choice will be

The campus environment can be a deciding factor for students. Photograph: iStock

What you need to know to make sure you take full advantage of your open day opportunity

Many Irish students face the dilemma of staying at home or going abroad to study for their undergraduate courses. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Several thousand Irish students are studying at EU universities

Brexit costs: the effect of the UK’s departure from the EU is an issue for Irish students contemplating submitting Ucas applications. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Existing fees are set to remain in place for the 2019-20 academic year

“School refusal” is an issue confronting parents and schools right across the country. Photo: iStock

Ask Brian: Parents face daily battles to protect their children from compulsive gaming

Rebecca Carter: Judge Richard Humphreys found the State Examination Commission was highly unfair in procesing her appeal. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Exams body should implement changes and not appeal Rebecca Carter judgment

There are so many options for postgraduate study and research in the USA, with over 1,700 universities offering postgraduate degrees. Photo: iStock

There are lots of options – but costs are steep, so be sure to do your research

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