It’s January so you can expect to hear a lot about Deadlines, CAO Deadlines to be precise. So much will be written and spoken about the CAO over these coming weeks, it’s enough to strike terror into the minds of most Leaving Certificate Students – and their parents. Don’t worry help is at hand. Read on if you want to find out exactly what you need to know regarding CAO Applications and Deadlines.

1.  For 90% of students the 1st of February deadline is artificial. Any mistake or omissions can be corrected in full during The Change of Mind (COM) period.

2.  This COM facility is open from the first week of May and stays open until July 1st.

3. Students can change their CAO application even after they have completed their final Leaving Cert Exam.

4. It is possible to apply to the CAO up to May 1st. If a student doesn’t register his/her application with the CAO by February 1st they will have to pay extra for the privilege.

5. We recommend that applicants apply to the CAO as soon as possible in all cases.

6.  There are exceptions to the above, notably for all courses that are classified as “Restricted Entry” Courses (listed in the CAO handbook). Restricted Entry Courses include all courses that have requirements over and above the normal Leaving Certificate and subject requirements. These courses include submission of a portfolio, completion of an audition, and sitting of an aptitude/suitability test such as the H-Pats. Mature students (over the age of 23) must also apply early as they are often required to attend an interview as part of their application. All those applying for Restricted Entry Courses must apply to the CAO by the February 1st deadline.

7. In our view regardless of when you apply it is most important that you have a clear idea as to where a particular course may lead you. If unclear we recommend you attend for a Career Guidance Assessment which will greatly help you identify your personal interests and strengths. It is important for students and their parents to remember this.

8. In our view it is much more important to concentrate on what you will study rather than where you will study when submitting your CAO.  Finally, always adhere to the golden rule of submitting your choices in genuine order of preference.