Steps in the right direction
Advantages to the online system
More students use the online CAO application facility every year. Online applications cost less than paper application, €35 for the online as opposed to €45 for the paper application. The students who apply online before February 1 will pay €35. Students who apply after February 1 and before May 1 will have to pay an extra €35 for online and €45 for paper application. This means they will pay €70, or €90 in total. Students who have applied online before February 1 can, by accessing their application account on the CAO website, change their course choices, at no extra cost, up to 5.15pm on January 31, 2007. The latest date for application is May 1.
Information for both the online and paper application is similar, though the format varies slightly. Online there is a demonstration you can practice on, which I recommend to all students.
It is advisable for paper applicants to get a certificate of postage when posting the application. Online applicants are recommended to print and save a receipt of their application as the final step in their application.
Payment for paper application
Paper applicants must pay the application fee through a bank using the three-part application forms which are included in the CAO pack. Part three of the form is a bank giro form which is retained by the bank. Applicants must return part one of the form, stamped by the bank, to the CAO and keep part two for their own record.
Payment for online application
Online application offers an online payment facility, therefore there is no need to go to the bank. You may use a Laser card, Master card or Visa credit card to pay the fee. Another option is to pay through the bank and complete the payment application form. If you use this option you should enter the payment sequence number of the payment form in the space provided on the online application.
Filling in the CAO
When filling in your CAO application either online or via the paper application the layout varies but the information sought for both is the same. Here are some guidelines in filling out the CAO form:
In the first part, Page 1, of your application the information sought is factual.
Name: Ensure the name that you enter is the same as the school records have for you. CAO warns that applicants may face complications in the future if the name on birth certificate is different from the name on their application.
Address: The important note here is that the address you add for correspondence is where you or your parents will be when the CAO sends you information. This is where your statement of record and offer notices will be sent.
Disability/specific learning difficulty: Applicants who believe they have a medical or physical condition, or a specific learning disability, should inform the HEI so they can make appropriate provisions. Applicants are not obliged to disclose such details, but CAO encourages them to provide the information. The information provided does not adversely affect an application in any way.
School details: Enter the name and addresses of the schools attended, starting with the latest.
Republic of Ireland examination details: If you are sitting the Leaving Certificate for the first time then you tick Leaving Cert 07 box. In May when the CAO sends you your application record it is important to check that the number on it is the same as the one being assigned by the Department of Education and Science. If you are taking FETAC level 5/6 than you must tick the FETAC Level 5/6 07 box. If you have sat the Leaving Certificate previously, between 1985 and 2006, you must give your exam number for the year in question. This is extremely important if you are repeating the Leaving Certificate to ensure that the CAO can see you have the entry requirements.
Course choices: This has two lists, one titled level 8 honours degree and the other level 7/6 ordinary degree and higher certificate. It is important to fill in both lists as you can receive offers from both. It is essential to fill the lists in order of GENUINE PREFERENCE, not in order of points. You will be offered the highest course to which your results entitle you from both of the lists.
Deferred applicants: Applicants who deferred last year tick here.
Special category: Applicants who have special categories listed on page three of the form must write ‘yes’ in the box provided. Applicants who are applying for a college place on this year’s Leaving Certificate results fill ‘no’ in the box provided.
Those who wrote ‘yes’ must fill in page three and four of the application. The form lists six special categories, and pages 9 and 10 of the CAO handbook give clear instructions on how to complete.
Tips in making the right career and course choice
Filling in the CAO application is one part of the process, but another important aspect which will dictate your future career and job prospects is what courses you put down. This can be the most difficult aspect for both parents and teenagers. Here are some guidelines to assist you in this important decision.
Interests: Investigate all of your interests from the subjects you like to what you enjoy outside of school. The course should match your interests and learning styles. There are some interest assessments available online for free such as www.careerdirections.ie, which outlines various careers which match your interests. I also offer a comprehensive career interest assessment which matches your interest profile to numerous careers and also highlights subjects which are suitable to your learning style.
Entry requirements: It is essential that whatever course you are investigating, you check and double check that you have the entry requirements. It does not matter if you get 600 points in the Leaving Certificate if you do not have the other entry requirements. All of this information is available on the course prospectus or through www.qualifax.ie. If you are in any doubt ring the admissions office of the college; their phone numbers are located on the inside cover of the CAO handbook.
Explore: When you choose a course this is what you will be doing for a minimum of two years, longer if you remain to complete an honours degree. Therefore, it is important that you are realistically informed about the course or career choice you opt for. When you go out to buy an item of clothing you usually try it on, get a feel for it, see if it’s nice and would it suit, this you wear a few times. Your career is something you pick for life so it is essential you find out all about it. Therefore read the course details and ask any questions of the course director, don’t leave them unanswered. Meet current and past students to get a feel for what the course is like and to see where graduates of the course are now working. Meet qualified professionals from the course to find their recommendations of career and what the industry is now looking for. Research has proven that meeting past and present students is one of the most beneficial guides in assisting teenagers with career and course choice.
Work environment: Ask yourself what is your ideal work environment? Would you like to work indoors or outdoors? What is your preference: numerical, investigative, practical or imaginative work, or is it a combination of these? Do you want to work with people, be a leader, be your own boss, work on your own, be responsible for yourself or report to others? What kind of hours would you prefer to work? When you have answered all of these questions, or even ascertained what you don’t want, the course or career you have chosen should ideally match your requirements.
Visit campus: Even if you have missed the open day at the campus you are intending to study in, it is vital that you visit the college before making your final decision. It is so important to get a feel for the campus and realistically ask yourself can you see yourself there for the next two to five years.
After your research you should know what is involved in the course, where it is available, entry requirements and what your options are when you graduate.
My final tip is: it is important that a student picks a course that they have an interest in, in a place where they will be happy and which will open various career avenues for them.
Remember, there are many avenues to your goals so believe in yourself and you have until July 1 for your change of mind.
Shirley Hanley, Career Guidance Services, 091 874052 or 087-2434294