Six key considerations in the CAO application process

Published date24 January 2023
Publication titleIrish Times (Dublin, Ireland)
The fee for those applying between January 20th and the normal closing date for applications (February 1st) is €45. All the CAO wants from you at this stage are your personal details including your name, address, phone number, information about any disability or specific learning difficulty, country of birth, nationality, email address, payment details and details of any post-second-level course (PLC) or other qualifications you have

When you have done this, you will be notified of your unique CAO identification number by both text and email. From this point onwards, you are free to indicate on your application record which course/ courses you wish to be considered for next September. However, you have the freedom to leave it for now and return to your application in May or June, and to list or amend your course choices until the July 1st deadline. The most comprehensive source of information on courses is to be found on the website.

2 Consider Post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) options outside the CAO February/March: The further education (FE) sector has thousands of opportunities for students who may consider that a year consolidating their learning in a specific area of knowledge, while developing their academic self-management skills, would better prepare them for successful engagement with a third-level programme.

FE is also extremely useful for those who may not secure the CAO points for their preferred course choice. Many third-level colleges reserve up to 10 per cent of the overall places for applicants who have successfully completed a Level 5 FE award in that specific discipline. Colleges of further education, which provide these programmes throughout the country, report that many students who defer entering third-level directly from school and instead spend a year securing a PLC award often perform far better than their school peers when they progress to universities and ITs a year later.

If you have a strength in one subject area in school but may not be academically strong across the full range of Leaving Certificate subjects, deciding to spend a year at PLC level in that subject could be a very wise decision. If students get distinctions in all eight PLC modules, they have a good chance of a reserved place in their preferred CAO course next year. See for a database of such linked programmes.

PLC programmes also offer training in practical skills for employment in a trade or craft such as business, hairdressing...

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