Its not unusual for a student to fixate on a single course and refuse to look beyond it. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Ask Brian: I strongly encourage all applicants to have a wide list of possible courses

There are a few reasons to be hopeful that points for some high-demand courses may fall this year. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Points for some high-demand courses could end up droping this year

Fifth-year students are a particularly vulnerable group going into the new year but all students  are in the same boat

Ask Brian: The coming year’s Leaving Cert students are, by and large, in the same boat

Despite  stress in the lead-up to the exams, this year’s Leaving Cert have more options than ever in securing the points they need for their chosen course. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: The good news is the class of 2020 will have lots of options to make the grade

Universities in Ireland and elsewhere are scrambling to put in place structures which can operate safely in the autumn. Online courses may appeal to some students. Photograph: iStock

Prospective students have a lot to consider before deciding on third-level choice

Many college applicants may consider deferring going to college this year due to the Covid-19 fallout. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Most lectures will be online and campus may be only partially open

There are still postgraduate options available for both primary and post-primary teaching. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: There are still options available for both primary and post-primary

Planning on starting college in September? It will soon be time for you to submit a definitive list of course options as the CAO’s Change of Mind deadline approaches.

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

Timeline for the 2020 college application process

Selecting a college course requires a considerable  level of planning and commitment. Too many students end up dropping out of courses for which they are unsuitable.

Students have until July 1st to submit their final third level course options to the CAO

The Depatment of Education is planning to issue the new calculated grade results in mid-August, which will be in time for applicants applying for most courses abroad.

Ask Brian: About 2,000 students have applied for college courses in the UK or Europe

You do not need your Leaving Cert results or to have accepted a course to submit an application to Susi. However, you will need to indicate your preferred course so that Susi can assess your application. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: You do not need your Leaving Cert results or to have accepted a course to submit an application

Leaving Cert 2020: There are sure to be losers in this teacher-based assessment process. File photograph: The Irish Times

Parochialism of Irish society suggests weeks ahead may be uncomfortable for educators

The minimum entry requirement for apprenticeships  – managed through the State training agency Solas  – is for a a learner to have achieved the Junior Cert/Junior Cycle. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Junior Cycle is minimum entry requirements for many apprenticeships

The delay to the Leaving Cert means prospective further education students won’t know their options for next year until October at the earliest. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Ask Brian: There are still many unanswered questions on how academic year may change

It’s very stressful trying to juggle my job with supervising homeschooling. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Regular communication between home and school is more important than ever

A drop in international students  is likely to be beneficial to Leaving Cert students considering Irish, UK and EU universities. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Covid-19 is likely to lead a to drop in CAO points for college courses

For exam year students, sitting back, doing no work and expecting your school to pick up the pieces after this is over is not a viable option. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Try to make learning fun for younger children and help older ones focus

It can be easy to lose the motivation to study during these disuptive times. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: The effort which students make today will stand to them over time

Consider the skills you have and name them. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Many underestimate the wide range of skills they have acquired

Giving everyone 100 per cent in components if they can’t be scheduled ignores the actual purpose for which most students work so hard. Photograph:  Bryan O’Brien

Ask Brian: Students will not be able to move from ordinary to higher to benefit from changes

Engineering is one career route for students who want to do their bit to protect the planet. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Engineering is a very practical way to address issues such as sustainability

In an increasingly competitive jobs market it is always worth considering what will set you apart

Taught postgraduate courses can be a continuation of your undergraduate studies or in an entirely new area.

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

Many primary school teachers say access to phones and social media among primary school children is creating huge stress and anxiety in their young lives. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Giving in to your child can buy short-term peace and quiet – but at what cost?

A qualification in business is a great investment in your future career and there is a huge selection to choose from

Personal users’ accounts will be deleted soon from Qualifax,  but it is possible to protect your data. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: Users’ accounts will be deleted soon – but it is possible to protect your data

Mature students account for almost 10 per cent of enrolments in higher education. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: There are a range of funding schemes available for mature students

There is a common misconception around how Dare – the third-level alternative admissions scheme for school-leavers with disabilities – operates. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: There is a common misconception around how admission rules for school-leavers with disabilities operates

Dutch and other EU universities are ranked among the best in the world.

Ask Brian: Most EU colleges offer places based on meeting minimum requirements

New Junior Cycle reforms are aimed at acquiring key skills such as working with others.

Ask Brian: The reforms are built around eight key skills deemed crucial to prepare young people for the modern world

College is only one of a wide range of options, but by no means the only one. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: College one of a range of options – and by no means the only one

Trinity College Dublin hosts matriculation exams in April in a limited number of subjects. Photograph: iStock

Ask Brian: TCD hosts two matriculation exams in April in geology and biblical studies

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

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

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

Timeline for this year’s college application process

‘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?

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

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

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