January is the month of new beginnings, and this kicks off especially for the thousands of students across the country as they begin to take the next steps in their education.
Around this time, there’s a good chance that you as a student are frantically asking “How do I choose an undergraduate course?!” Or exclaim to yourself “Help me, I don’t know what I want to study!” It’s stressful, and you’re not alone; It’s a feeling many students have because these are big questions.
Throughout this appendix, we’ll try to help break down the mystery about applying to college, give you sound advice on the CAO process, and set all the deadlines you need to know.
First things first, let’s break down the application process for CAO. You need to apply online before January 20, in order to receive the reduced fee of €30.
If you wish to apply using the paper application form, you need to contact the investigator-adviser well in advance of the deadline so that a form can be sent to you.
Each year, the Office of the Inspector-Counsellor sees that students make a few avoidable mistakes during the application process that subsequently go on to influence students during the application process.
So, it’s worth taking some time to sit down, well before the deadline, to move forward with the process carefully.
to begin with; Sit down and read the CAO brochure. This is a really useful document from CAO that is designed to walk you through all the important parts of your application, and outline all the upcoming deadlines you need to keep in mind.
On the CAO website, you will also find video guides and demonstrations of the application process in the Student Resources section. It is also worth checking out the other sections of the CAO website.
You can find plenty of step-by-step videos, as well as downloadable guides for parents, guardians, and mature students.
You can also download the Common Points Scale from 2017 and explain how offers are issued and offer accepted.
The CAO Handbook also includes a list of important changes for 2022, which we highly recommend reading.
This includes a list of courses that are not in the 2022 brochure but that you can still apply for, which courses have been canceled, and a list of miscellaneous changes to the different courses.
This year, for the first time, the CAO website will also connect students with further education, internships and apprenticeships. You will find this option on the CAO homepage when you visit it.
It is definitely worth giving this detailed review, even if you have chosen the course of your dreams.
A little careful research here about potential courses goes a long way, too. Read about the different course choices you’re interested in online or in the handouts. Make sure to check each course’s matriculation certificate and minimum entry requirements.
You also can’t beat a little firsthand experience; Don’t be shy about reaching out to someone you know who has studied a particular course you’re interested in to ask them essential questions about college.
Once you are done reading and researching, it is time to start the application process. Don’t be late here, and register in the system to get your CAO application number.
Submit your details to www.cao.ie, select the relevant qualifications and assessments sections, and pay the application fee.
It is really important that you submit a valid email address, and that this personal information is submitted correctly at this point. This is because incorrect information may lead to problems in the future.
For example, you may risk having your account closed or missing an important email. CAO deadlines are strictly enforced, and you don’t want to risk missing one because you can’t get into your account.
With deadlines in mind, the investigator-adviser also strongly recommends candidates to begin the application process early before the breakpoints.
You need to set aside enough extra time to deal with hiccups like internet outages, unprocessed payments, or unexpectedly closing your account.
Once you are registered in the system, you should receive your CAO application number. Indicate this in any communications you have with the investigator-adviser.
You are now registered, you can also log in to your CAO account. Here, you can edit and submit your application, and you can add your course choices.
Don’t be late to add your course choices. You don’t have to worry too much at this point about getting the exact order, but the investigator-adviser highly recommends listing your choices in order of your true preference.
Remember, you can log in to add, remove, and change the order of your courses as many times as you want until February 1, at no additional charge.
Remember, if you are applying for any of the “restricted” courses, you must include this course in your list of choices before the February 1 deadline.
“Restricted” courses are those that require a portfolio, admission test, or interview. They can be added to an app later, using the Change Course Options feature. However, this must be added before March 1 at 5.15pm for a fee of €10.
Most exams and interviews for the restricted courses are held in March and April. The CAO Change of Mind facility opens May 5 and closes July 1 at 5:15 p.m.
This can be used to add, remove, or rearrange courses at no additional charge, but restrictions apply to certain courses.
During the CAO application process, you will also be asked to provide additional information about the Department of Qualifications and Assessments, or the departments identified during registration.
Make sure you list each of these qualifications correctly.
You will find eight boxes displayed on the CAO application form, with some applicants required to check more than one box to inform the CAO of all of their relevant qualifications.
You may also be asked to send supporting documents to the Investigator-Counsellor within ten working days of submitting your application. If you qualify for any exceptions, be sure to inform the CAA.
Before the end of May, an “Application History Statement” is sent to all CAO applicants. It seems very far away now, but time will pass and be sure to keep in mind how important it is to double-check the details in this log when you receive it.
Be sure to check that all of your personal information, as well as exams, exemptions and course options are properly registered, and take special care to verify that your Departure Certificate Exam Number is correct.
Mistakes here can, and do occur, result in applicants losing a place on the relevant bid tour.
If you notice any errors, or you have not received an ‘Order History Statement’, report it to the Investigator-Counsellor immediately.
All of the above information is in the CAO 2022 brochure, where you can read the instructions in a longer format and at a higher resolution.
I wish you success in your application and in the rest of your studies. Work hard, but have fun in the coming months as you prepare for the next step in your education.