CAO 2019/2020 is now open for Leaving Cert students. Completing the application at this time of year serves two functions: it completes the registration process and gives students time to focus, knowing that there will be plenty of opportunity to revisit the application in the months ahead. Apply before January 20th and avail of the reduced fee of €30.

The closing date for applications is February 1, 2020, at 17:15. The rationale for this date is that applicants can consider their options in a calm atmosphere, with the advice and guidance available from their advisors in the term before the Christmas break. Then during the holidays, decisions can be made, and applications submitted at the beginning of January. February 1st is intended as a latest date for applying however late applications can be submitted up to May 1st, with certain restrictions.

Choosing the wrong course is one of the major factors which leads to student drop-out at college. This can cause considerable upset for students and parents alike. As parents, our instinct is to dive in and take control of the process to protect our children. However, it is important to remember that this is not our life decision but the student’s.

Tips for parents:

  • Familiarise yourself with the new grading system – A’s and B’s are no more!
  • Read the CAO 2019/2020 handbook or download the Guide for Parents & Guardians from
  • Respect the student’s choices. Encourage them to independently research their prospective courses
  • Be aware of deadline dates, print them out from the CAO website & put them in the family calendar
  • Be open on costs. Living costs for college students have skyrocketed in recent years. If doing a course in a college puts an extra financial burden, then consider a similar course elsewhere where the costs may be lower. This will ease the pressure on everyone, student and parents alike.
  • Register with the CAO early. Even if the student is 100% sure of their choices, getting the registration completed takes the pressure off. The CAO system is remarkably flexible in that choices can be changed right up to July 1, apart from restricted-application courses, which have early assessment procedures.
  • Be positive. This is an opportunity to have open-ended discussions exploring life choices.

I feel strongly that the application should be completed by the student, as it is their future and taking responsibility for it starts now.

Be Careful

Care needs to be taken when inputting personal details. The student must make sure that the name matches their passport or birth cert as the colleges will require proof of identity when taking up an offer if a different name is used.

A valid email address is required for security and communications purposes. If the student doesn’t have an email address, set one up with Gmail. Failure to provide a valid email address may have serious consequences – like not receiving an offer! The CAO and colleges applied to, may wish to communicate with the student about their application by email, post or text message. Last year, students received their first-round offers by text, about an hour ahead of the expected time that offers were to be available online.

Next, select the qualifications and assessments section(s) that are relevant. As there may be more than one, see the CAO Handbook for more information.

Select your payment method. If paying by credit or debit card you will be redirected to a third-party payment screen. This security measure ensures that no payment card details are stored on the CAO system. Once the payment has been processed the application returns to the CAO website to complete the remaining steps.

The penultimate requirement is to create a password and then finally to click on ‘Proceed with application’ to obtain the student’s unique CAO application number. Their application details will appear on screen and they will also receive an email containing their CAO application number. It is vital to check that this is received as failure to receive an email with an application number means that application has not been processed successfully.

Loads of Choice

There are two course choices lists – the NFQ Level 8 (Honours Degree) and Level 7/6 (Ordinary Degree and Higher Certificate) lists. Applicants can enter 10 course choices on both lists. The two lists are independent of each other – the only time the applicant must choose between them is at the offers stage if they receive an offer off both lists in the same round.

The focus right now is on making the CAO 2019/2020 application as soon as possible. Even if your student is not 100% sure of what courses they want to study at third-level, they can apply now. The system is very flexible and allows for change of mind right up to the first of July.

Wishing all our readers and their families and Happy Christmas and New Year.

Hummingbird Learning Centre 087 2996054

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