The case for making your CAO choices early

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How do you juggle doing Leaving Cert exams and researching college courses? How about getting the research done and CAO lists well in advance of exams

Which type of person are you when it comes to filling out your CAO lists? 1 February is the traditional change of mind deadline for Central Applications Office (CAO); the beginning of May is when the change of mind facility opens and 5.15pm on 1 July each year is the final change of mind deadline.

Are you a last minute racer and start filling in the blanks in the last week of June? Or will you have chosen your courses by the 1 February traditional deadline and make minimal changes to your order of preference in May or June?

It might seem easy to push off the decisions until the change of mind period. But for those who don’t start their research early enough worrying about not knowing what you want to do can be a complete distraction from crucial study time around the Leaving Cert.

Here are some smart ways to get ahead on college course research:

  • Make a list of courses you’re interested in, bookmark the course pages
  • Work your way down through the list and read the information available/watch videos
  • Follow social media accounts related to the course and college
  • Note down some questions you could ask
  • Find out when the next open days or evenings are on at that college and find a way to attend, and ask lecturers or students questions
  • Share your thoughts with family and see if they can help with research and help you understand what you’d enjoy studying and working at
  • Have your heart set on a certain college or city? Do a campus tour and visit the city.
  • Avail of online chat facilities to get more information.

The earlier you start your research, the better. Leave it too close to exam time and you will be conflicted between studying and research. Leave it till after the Leaving Cert and you will have lost your chance to speak to lecturers who will be on holidays by then.

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