CAO – A Guide for Parents Part 2 (Application Procedure)

Applications to the Central Applications Office (CAO) opened in November and will remain open until the 1stof February 2019. Most applications are now made online and applications made before 5:15 pm on January 20th can avail of a reduced application fee of €30. After that, the fee rises to €45.

It is still possible to make a paper application, but the fee is €45 up to February 1 and €90 for applications received afterthat date but before May 1.


CAO 2019 Timetable

Dates are very important in the CAO process, so I recommend that you update your calendar with the dates relevant to you. The CAO Handbook is available from schools and is also available online. It has a handy timetable of events.

This timetable is vital to know if your application includes courses that requires additional tests or interviews or if you intend applying under DARE/HEAR.

Applying online to the CAO is pretty straightforward and I recommend that parents become familiar with it. However, I feel strongly that the application should be completed by the student, as it is their future and taking responsibility for it starts now.

Care needs to be taken when inputting personal details. The student must make sure that the name matches theirpassport or birth cert as the colleges will require proof of identity whentaking 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, one can be easily set 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.

Next, select the qualifications and assessments section(s) that are relevant. As there may be more than one, see page 5 of the CAO Handbook formore information.


Select your payment method – this is probably where parents are required most!  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.

There are two course choices lists – the NFQLevel 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 application as soon as possible. Even if your student is not 100% sure of what courses they want to study in 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 a Happy Christmas and New Year.

Hummingbird Learning Centre 087 2996054

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