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

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

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?

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

It’s best not to make any rash decisions. Photograph: iStock

The first month of college can be challenging for anyone starting third-level

Arts and humanities degrees are among the most popular third-level courses, with more than 25 per cent of students, studying these programmes. Photo: iStock

Arts graduates have excellent skills to meet needs of changing workplaces

Higher Options has the potential to be the most valuable six hours you will be able to spend this year in exploring your future options. Photograph: Alan Betson
Plan ahead to get ahead

Value of Higher Options to school-leavers depends entirely on level of preparation ahead of RDS event

The offers of places in medicine is different to all other CAO programmes. Photo: iStock

The offers of places in medicine is different to all other CAO programmes

Photograph: Getty

Analysis: Five take-aways from this year’s available college places

Financial contributions may  be sought from parents only on the basis that a child’s place in a school is not dependant on making a contribution. Photo: iStock

Teachers should have no knowledge or interest in these financial matters

Life in college and the academic demands it places on you are different to secondary school. You’re now in charge of your own learning.

What you should know ahead of the three viewing sessions for rechecking exams

Susi provides means-tested grants for further education, higher education, postgraduate studies

Up to 40% of new students are entitled to grants to help cushion college costs

Unfilled college places are due to come onstream for those with unsatisfactory offers

Some of those had hoped to study arts in UCD and had CAO points in the 340-380 range but missed out due to an unexpected jump of about 50 points.

Exam candidates can take photos of their exam scripts for the first time

In many of our fellow continental EU partner countries, such practical hands-on courses are seen to be as of equal status as those offered by third-level colleges

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

In business – another area with strong projected job growth – points remains strong and steady.

Students shy away from arts and head for job-ready engineering, science and construction

Whichever course students accept in the first round will have no effect on their entitlement to accept an offer of a course higher up on their two lists if it becomes available in a later round. Photograph: iStock

Prospective students have until Friday, August 24th, to accept their first-round offer of a college place

 Photograph: iStockphoto

Progression to college directly from school is not the only route

An alternative option for students who have failed to meet entry requirements for their chosen courses may be to apply to their local further education (FE) college. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

College Choice: Students have range of options if they missed entry requirements

The percentage of students studying maths at  higher level was  31.5% in 2018,   up from 30%   last year

Change in grading system contributes to increasing popularity of higher level subjects

If you are unhappy with a particular grade in any subject in the Leaving Cert, or if there is an identifiable error in the results you got today, the State Examinations Commission (SEC) will give you whatever supports you need to rectify the problem. Photograph: iStock

If you feel you should have done better, you can view your script to decide if it’s worth having it rechecked

Take a few minutes away from the excitement and carefully calculate your CAO points score. Photograph: iStock

First-round CAO offers for college places will be made on Monday, August 20th. What can you expect to happen next, and how do you (...)

Colleges, conscious that Leaving Cert students have been absorbed in their exams for the past month, are open to talking to and meeting potential applicants. Photo: iStock

All colleges ready to deal with last-minute queries from applicants

Once you receive your paper, read it carefully and fully before you do anything else. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

An exam survival guide for Junior and Leaving Cert students (and parents)

Fees for international non-EU students are expensive, though still cheaper than in several other jurisdictions. Photo: iStock

Rising numbers of non-Irish students are studying in Ireland – but it can be costly

Ireland currently has the second-highest fees – in the form of a €3,000 registration charge or fees of €8-€10,000 at postgrad level – for higher education in the EU. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Plan for loans are dead in the water – awaiting a decent burial

Leaving Cert results are out on Wednesday August 15th. Photograph: iStock

Timeline for the remainder of the 2018 college application process

Decision time: It’s time to make your final CAO choices, but remember, you are  not selecting an occupation for the rest of your life. You are just choosing areas of academic study that you would enjoy over the next three or four years.

It’s time to review your CAO application so here’s how to get your course choice right

Completing a third-level degree isn’t the only way to launch a successful career

Choosing the right course involves a lot of research, but it’s well worth the effort.

Here’s how to go about choosing the best course and the right college for you

If exam stress gets too much, it can often be best to get out of the hall into the open air for two or three minutes. Photo: iStock

Simple techniques can help minimise exam stress

Focus on your exams for now – career choices can wait until the end of June. Photograph: iStock

Don’t rush into a course which doesn’t excite you – there is plenty of time to decide

The NUI now needs an applicant’s express permission to share their data with NUI, so it can update the applicant’s CAO record to include details of an NUI exemption. Photograph: Peter Thursfield

New data-sharing rules mean students must ensure the CAO is aware of Irish exemptions

Several universities offer global business degree programmes in partnership with universities in other countries that allow students to spend time studying abroad. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty

One in every seven 2018 CAO applicants for a level 8 degree lists a business course as their first option

State authorities will need to examine holding exams on Saturdays. Photo: iStock

Students should not be expected to sit three Leaving Cert written papers in a single day

Not so long ago most first years in college were under 18. Today, that has fallen to just  a quarter. Photo: iStock

Some younger students may not be ready for the demands of third-level

Schools have discretion to determine whether  transition year is compulsory for pupils or not. Photograph: iStock

Schools have discretion to determine whether TY is compulsory or not

Members of the TUI and the ASTI picketing during a recent strike. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Benefits differ in specific details, which could be significant over a lifetime

In no other profession are graduates asked to deliver a service unpaid for two years, while paying fees of more than €12,000 while they do so. Photograph: iStock

Urgent action is needed to address the single biggest threat to the quality of our children’s education

Veterinary medicine in UCD is the only provider of veterinary education on the island of Ireland. Photo: iStock

Lack of subject choice is a deep unfairness of the secondary system

A professional qualification to fly as a commercial pilot can cost up to €100,000. Photo: iStock

Courses are hugely expensive, though there are ways of cushioning costs

Anxiety ahead of an exam is normal, so intensify your prepartion over the coming weeks. Photo: iStock

Anxiety is normal. Intensify your preparation over the coming weeks

Research is key to establishing what course is the correct one for you. Photograph: iStockphoto

Ensuring that your course of choice has credibility in the labour market a big challenge

In addition to sector-specific skills, transversal and cross-sectoral employability skills are increasingly being sought by employers. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty

Increasing convergence across almost all sectors of the economy leading to greater job mobility

International and local research shows that higher levels of education increase employability as well as salary. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty

Rapidly improving economy offers wide array of options for college graduates

Transition year can be of immense benefit to students’ growth and development. Photo: iStock

This academic interlude is of immense benefit to students’ growth and development

Eighteen years olds  are adults in the eyes of the law. Photo: iStock

18 year olds are entitled to be treated as adults by schools

Parents may make complaints over teachers to the Teaching Council, the Department of Education or the Ombudsman for  Education. Photo: iStock

Ask Brian: There are a number of options available once you’ve exhausted all avenues in school

There will always be substitute work available as a primary school teacher, given the need to cover maternity leaves, normal sickness and career breaks. Photograph: iStock

Teaching posts may become harder to secure in future as numbers are projected to fall

The Teaching Council is not there to support or encourage aspiring graduates into teaching. Photo: iStock

There is a real lack of support available to encourage graduates into teaching

 Most parents who can afford the voluntary contribution  pay it, and those who can’t do not. Photo: iStock

I am concerned that my decision will affect the school’s attitude to my son

This year, instead of a single catch-all programme, UCD is offering six new programmes: three are BA degrees and three are BSc (Bachelor of Science) degrees. Photograph: Getty Images

Big changes in some arts, humanities and social science degrees

School-leavers face more than 1,000 course options in the CAO system. Photograph: iStock

School-leavers are confronted with a dizzying array of choices for further study

Grants: you can apply through the Susi website (susi.ie). There is an “eligibility reckoner” on the home page to give you an idea of whether you might be eligible for a grant.  Photograph: iStock

More than 40% of students in higher education receive grants of various types

The Dare scheme has moved away from the exclusive use of medical criteria towards a holistic one. Photograph: iStockphoto

Supports available for applicants with a disability or from disadvantaged backgrounds

If you wish to apply for a specific course, your informal learning over your lifetime will be given due recognition within the adult education system. Photo: iStock

Your local Education and Training Board is a great place to get advice on what’s available

More than 2,000 Irish students are currently studying in some of Europe’s premier universities. Photograph: iStock

Almost half of first year in veterinary science in Warsaw and Budapest are Irish

There has been an increase in the number of new apprenticeships offered to students across a wide range of industry sectors in recent years. Photograph: iStock

Post-Leaving Cert courses, apprenticeships are a valuable alternative to the CAO

Thousands of students drop out of college each year, having made the wrong course choice. Photo: iStock

Thousands of students each year drop out of college after making decisions under exam pressure

Timeline for the 2018 college application process

Consider the evidence - decide what criteria you should factor into your decision. Photograph: iStockphoto.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the challenge of choosing what to do after you leave school

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