Students applying for a college place next autumn should also check out the scholarships on offer at the various institutions.
hile the focus of CAO applicants must be to select the most appropriate course, it is worth exploring what scholarships are available in different colleges, and through those, the extra supports a student may enjoy while in third level.
Colleges award scholarships to attract and support talent and in recognition of high achievement or potential, such as in the academic or sporting fields, or in areas including citizenship, creative and performing arts, and entrepreneurship.
There are also scholarships for asylum seekers/refugees and to support other under-represented groups.
They can be a very valuable, allowing a student to pursue third-level studies while — if awarded in recognition of a particular talent — the college supports them in their extra-curricular activity. Supports can vary from financial aid, to coaching and sports psychology, to flexibility around college assignment deadlines where, for example, there is a clash with an important competition.
The types of scholarships, and the eligibility criteria, vary between colleges, and in some cases students need to apply to be considered, while in others they are automatically awarded if they satisfy a certain criteria.
Application deadlines vary too. For instance, the final date for applying for a Quercus scholarship at UCC, which is awarded to talented students across a range of different areas, is February 3.
Meanwhile, applications for UCD’s Ad Astra Academic scholarship programme, which is aimed at exceptional students who are highrs in academic pursuits, sports or performing arts, will be accepted from February 1.
Recently, Wicklow hurler Peter Keane and Tipperary hurler Patrick Maher were named as the inaugural recipients of enhanced scholarships from Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) and the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) for the current academic year.
In another example of the variety, colleges may offer a points waiver to CAO applicants at recognition of the time they devote to the pursuit of excellence in sport, or another activity — and how that might interfere with their Leaving Certificate studies. The CAO Points Concession Sports Scheme at Mary Immaculate College (MIC) gives a waiver of up to 40 CAO points for up to 10 performance athletes applying for a full-time honors degree program at MIC Limerick or Thurles.
Music education provider the BIMM Institute, in partnership with Spotify, has added to its offering of scholarships and bursaries. It recently announced a total of eight Diversity & Inclusion Scholarships for 2022/23, including one for Dublin. They are for low-income applicants from under-represented groups, including black, Asian and minority ethnic students, disabled students, care leavers and mature students or those with a background of low participation in higher education.
With the range of scholarships growing all the time, it is worth looking into the possibilities.