There is no doubt that the CAO is a huge aspect of leaving cert year and getting it right will make all your hard work worthwhile. However, the combination of long days of study, looming exams and researching courses can be very overwhelming. Fear not, we have outlined some tips to help make the CAO process more manageable.
Attend University Open Days
Attending open days is your opportunity to get a feel for the university and is more than likely your only chance to ask lecturers and present students your questions. It’s a great way to see what clubs and societies are on offer and will open your eyes to pros and cons of the university that you may not have considered before. It is crucial to make use of all and any material published by individual courses that interest you. You would be surprised how many students don’t know such simple details about their course such as entry requirements, modules covered and its careers prospects, details of which are all online.
List Your Courses In Order Of Preference
When it comes to filling out your CAO, always choose your courses in order of preference. Fill in your top 1-4 like a dreamer - if you weren’t thinking of points what would you absolutely love to study? You never know what leaving cert results you will get on the day and how the points will change. Each and every course from 1-10 deserves equal thought. Don't forget there are 20 choices, 10 for level 8 and 10 for level 7. Always choose preference over points, even if you'd prefer to do General Science that is 300 over Psychology which is 600 points. There is no benefit to anyone if you are in a situation of being offered something you don’t truly want. Following your top 1-4, should be courses with points that might be more suited to the reality of what results you may get. Your final 8-10 should be courses that you could and would do and are related to where you want to go. They may not be exactly what you want but they would be a stepping stone to get you where you want to go.
Interest Over Employability
You might be tempted to avoid some degrees because they don't aim towards a specific career. For example, if you study Law you can become a solicitor, but if you study English and History your career path might not be as straight forward. With that said, it is better to study something you are interested in rather than study something for the sake of employability. You are far better choosing a course you’ll enjoy and complete, than a course you’ll dislike and eventually drop out of. Furthermore, the jobs market is constantly evolving and so its hard to predict what jobs could be in demand by the time you graduate.
Follow these tips and don’t be afraid to seek advice from the colleges, your guidance counsellor, parents, friends, people you may know in college already. This way you will find yourself in a very good position come September!
There are study paths available to begin and continue your academic journey, regardless of your level of experience or prior qualifications. Anything is possible if you have the motivation and the desire.
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