With the CAO application window opening today, we thought we'd ask an expert for some advice. Martina got 8 A1s in her Leaving Cert and wants to make the Leaving Cert easier for everyone. That’s why she founded 625points.com. Notes and tips from students who got 625 points mean that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It has served hundreds of thousands of students to date.
You’re not alone in feeling that facing the CAO application is like facing your conscience.
Where am I going in life? Have I worked hard enough to get the course I want? What was I thinking picking those subjects!?
And most of all, is there still a chance that it will all work out?
We’ve all been there and here are the things that helped us:
1) Start your application now
Registering with the CAO website is one of the most anxious moments. Plunge in and you will realise there was nothing to dread.
There is a whole season between the start of the application and the submission date. Give yourself a chance to do a first draft in the safety of the pre-Christmas period.
Plus, it’s cheaper this way.
2) Write down the courses you want
Forget what’s available, just write down what you want to do. Be honest with yourself. Start with the course you’re really pining for and continue the list. Chances are it will be same subject in a number of different colleges.
Putting the dream course at the top does not prevent you from getting the ones you can “afford” in the end.
3) Don’t rank courses by points
You won’t believe the amount of distraught students that write to me on Snapchat in August. Their problem? It’s not that they didn’t get enough points, but that they got too many!
What they really wanted was their second choice, but now there is no easy way to get it.
4) Don’t be a magpie
You will also struggle to believe how many people drop out of their chosen course in first year. I did Medicine in Trinity. Even after all the hurdles of getting there, some people realised it wasn’t for them and left in the first few weeks.
What matters here is what’s better for you. Just like the most expensive book in the book shop isn’t necessarily the one you want read, the highest points course isn’t necessarily what will suit your needs.
5) Know everything about your course
The best place to look is the college’s own website. A live application will give you a framework to systematically work through all the options, eligibility criteria and research the courses.
6) If your application is in any way “unusual”, plan to do some reading
Are you applying for Art? Music? Medicine? Are you thinking of going through the Trinity Feasibility Study? HEAR Scheme? Or maybe DARE? Have you spent time living outside of the EU? Do you do fewer languages that most people?
All of these things may mean that you will have to do more research to get your application right, so budget some time.
7) Don’t do it alone
If you’re anxious enough to have read this far, remember that there are people who can help. I didn’t want to waste my career guidance councillors time, so I kept to myself. When I finally asked for help, she was unbelievably good to me.
Don’t leave out your family and friends.
If you’re the opposite, and the process is happening almost without your input, remember that it is you who has to actually go into college when it’s all done. Be involved. Don’t leave these things to your Mam, your Aunt or the Cat.
8) Don’t sabotage yourself
It’s about as exciting as reading the Software License Agreement on your iPhone iOs update, but this time you really should. Read the CAO Handbook.
The CAO rules are applied consistently. There will be no exceptions. Don’t let your college entry be sabotaged by not knowing the rules.
About the author:
Martina got 8 A1s in her Leaving Cert and wants to make the Leaving Cert easier for everyone. That’s why she founded 625points.com. Notes and tips from students who got 625 points mean that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It has served hundreds of thousands of students to date.