05 Oct 2022

CAO Offers: What if I don’t get the course I want? It’s not the end of the world

As the CAO makes its first round of offers, it’s important to know your options

Op-Ed: What if I don’t get offered the course I want? It’s not the end of the world

Leaving Certificate students from all across Kilkenny will be waiting in anticipation as Round One of CAO offers are issued tomorrow (Thursday).

For many students, receiving an offer for their first preference course will feel like worthy justification for all the hard work that they have put in over the last two years.

For many others, despite putting in a similar amount of effort, they will not receive their first preference offer, and may feel hard done by.

If you’re in the second category, this column is just to tell you that if you do not receive an offer for your first preference course, it isn’t the end of the world.

Yes, it can be tough to take at first, especially if you had your heart set on a certain course in a certain college.
The first bit of advice is not to panic.

There are many options and supports available to you and you need to be in a proactive frame of mind to assess your options.

If you were only a couple of points short of your first preference course, you can always appeal your Leaving Cert results.

This option may be worthwhile if you feel that you have been graded unfairly or particularly harshly in a certain subject.

After the Round One deadline passes, the CAO may offer you a place on your first choice course during Round Two, even if you have already accepted an earlier offer.

A second offer can only be made if a place has opened up on a course that was higher in your list of preferences to the one offered to you.

At the end of the day, not getting offered your first preference course doesn’t mean that you can’t study the subject that you’re really interested in.

Chances are, if you had your mind set on a certain subject (law, psychology, sports science, teaching, etc.), your CAO list is full of relevant courses.

It’s not the end of the world if you do not get offered the college you wanted as long as you have a genuine interest in the subject you wish to study.

There are many people who will get their first preference course and college and end up dropping out because they didn’t have the passion to study it academically.

I remember this really hitting home in one of my first college lectures.

There were about 200 bright-eyed first year college students assembled into a packed lecture theatre.

The lecturer first welcomed us in and then told us to look at the person sitting to the left of us and then to the person sitting to the right of us.

“One of the three of you will not be sitting here during your final year,” he said.

It spooked us all but turned out he was right.

If you get offered a course relevant to your interests in a different college, chances are it will pay off more to pursue than accepting a different course in your preferred college.

The thoughts of following this advice may sound tough if, for example, you’re introverted and know friends going to a certain college.

Finding new social circles may seem daunting to you but that’s what college is all about.

There are so many ways to find people with similar interests in college (through clubs and societies in particular) and everybody starting is in the same boat.

After the first round of offers are issued, the CAO will post a list of courses that still have places available with no waiting list.

Here you might see another course that takes your interest, and you can apply for it online.

If you’re dead set on a specific course, then look into if it offers a Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) entry route.

This might mean having to first complete a PLC course in a relevant area to your preferred course.

You might learn a lot about yourself through this process, and be at an advantage then when you do get into your preferred course.

There’s also the ultimate alternative option available to you to repeat the Leaving Certificate.

This is only advisable if you feel you were really hard done by in your exams and didn’t get to showcase your full potential.

You know you best. Getting a poor Leaving Certificate isn’t the end of the world. Don’t get hung up on it.

I would only advise repeating if you genuinely feel you could improve by a large amount and there are no alternative pathways to your preferred course.

Don’t let exams define you. Look into your options and carve your own path.

Where there’s a will there’s a way, even if it means taking one or two extra steps!

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