Common CAO mistakes include the following:
- Students unaware of which colleges are Private (Private ones incur tuition fees! and the SUSI grant does not cover these).
- Students unaware of and / or don’t understand CAO order of preference .
- Students not researching courses down their CAO order of preference list - some students have never visited colleges or read the prospectus and so are on a mystery journey…
- Students who don’t know difference between Further Education and Higher Education - they try to put down PLC course codes on CAO entries area!
- Students not paying attention to the requirement that any additional documents forwarded to the CAO must have the student’s CAO number on each document.
- Students unaware of CAO rules - Change of Mind etc.
- Students having unrealistic expectations … often resulting in no CAO offer.
Mistakes made by students who are repeating or who have previously withdrawn from a course
- Incomplete CAO application - Students who have dropped out need transcripts etc. from their college showing that they have withdrawn from a course - these must be sent to CAO as part of their new application.
- Evidence of international qualifications provided must be certified translations.
- Students (who have dropped out of Third level) reapplying to CAO-unaware of rules regarding “Free Fees”. The consequences involve loss of “Free Fees” and loss of grant. Rules vary from college to college regarding drop out / withdrawal / exit dates. Some students don’t even let colleges know they have dropped out and are on the college financial “books” longer than is necessary. Tuition fees also vary from college to college to the tune of thousands!
Mature Student CAO mistakes
- Mature Students failing to read information in Mature section of individual college websites.
- Mature Students unaware of admission rules on college websites - e.g. unaware of supplementary forms and requirements. CAO alone is not enough for universities - each Third level has a different application process which can include admission tests, aptitude tests and interviews. Aptitude tests like MSAP or Hpat have deadlines.
- Candidates for Nursing degrees unaware of An Bord Altanais role in the application process - CAO application alone is not enough.
FETAC Student CAO mistakes
- FETAC students applying for courses where FETAC link does not exist and / or module requirement is not met. (In other word, applying for a CAO course without meeting the particular subject requirements)
- FETAC students not ticking the right box in the Qualifications & Assessments section. Failing then to insert their PPS number. This cannot be manually corrected later. So CAO has no idea they exist ….
- FETAC students not inserting their Leaving Cert. number/ If they have sat Leaving Cert. They can still use points to go in through the Leaving Cert gate. CAO computer will select highest point score between FETAC and Leaving Certificate.
- DARE & HEAR routes can still be availed of if students are using Leaving Cert. to gain admission.
- Repeat students who think CAO account can be used following year…
And the ridiculous…
- Approx 1500 candidates last year opened CAO account and did not enter course choices.
- Students who are unaware they are eligible for SUSI grant, especially at PLC level.
- Some high profile college courses cannot fill FETAC progression route places
FETAC Pre Nursing student mistakes
Applicants unaware that:
- They must have a Grade C in Irish (ordinary level).
- Leaving Cert Ordinary Level Maths or distinction in Maths at Fetac level is required, if they want to be considered by UK Colleges (or D grade in ordinary level maths is sufficient for Irish Colleges).