Career Guidance

An Overview of the CAO and Career Information 


Five Steps to choosing a Third Level Course

Step 1

Your Daughter and her interests

•         What areas of occupation is she interested in?

•         Does she have a flair for: Writing, Music, Sport, Science, Business, Languages?

All of our students are different.

Your daughter needs to identify her own preferences and strengths

Step 2.

•           There will be particular subjects that your daughter likes.

•         Her subjects will help her to select broad areas for Third level.

•          These are often the subjects she will perform best at.

Step 3.

Get the facts:

There is a lot of reliable information available about Careers and Courses

Your daughter can get this from

•         Prospectuses

•         Leaflets

•         Career Books

•         Teachers

•         Parents

•         Talking to people working in the Career

•         Friends and relatives whose judgement is valid

•         Her own Work Experience or summer job.

•         Open Days at Colleges.

Step 4

•         Be Flexible  and Open Minded

•         Encourage your daughter to Look at Broad careers.

•         Many people change jobs several times during their working lives.

•         Look at all the levels: Levels 6,7 and 8 /Degrees.

Step 5

Know The System

•         Most Students enter Third Level through the CAO-Points System

•         Encourage your daughter to speak to you, her parents, to her teachers and to Guidance Counsellors.

•         She should be realistic but she should not underestimate herself either.

•         What is important is to choose a course that matches what she wants.

There are three systems to which your daughter may apply to at this time of the year to secure her third level place in August 2017:

  1. The Irish System of Application is called the CAO (CentralApplications Office, located inGalway).
  2. The British System is calledUCAS (United CollegesApplication System).
  3. The Irish PLC Colleges. (PostLeaving Cert Colleges).

The CAO is :

•         A Centralised Applications System for over 40 Third Level Colleges in Ireland.(Universities and IT Colleges)

•         On the CAO Application Form there are two lists:

•         One is for Degree Courses (Level 8).

•         The second list is for Level 6 &Level 7 Courses

•         It is possible to apply for up to 10 Courses on each list.

•         Your daughter should list her choices in order of genuine preference in each category.

The first course she wants must go down as Number 1.

In Cork our students have the option of applying to

  1. University CollegeCork (Level 8)
  2.  Cork Institute of Technology (Levels 8, 7 & 6) and  ‘Ladder of progression’.
  3. The Post leaving Cert Colleges ( including ‘Links’ to IT Colleges and UniversityColleges.

•         We encourage each of your daughters to apply ‘On-Line’  on the CAO at:

In mid August Offers will be issued independently to each student who has applied.

•         This means that your daughter may be offered a place from BOTH the Level 8 List  and the Level 6 & 7 List .

•         It is ESSENTIAL for your daughter to be at home when these offers come from the CAO as she has to choose between one Level and the other within 10 days.

Entry Requirements:

•         Each students must meet the MINIMUM ENTRY REQUIREMENTS for the course they applied to. Most entry requirements are

  1. Two C3’s on Higher Level Papers


2.         Passes in Four other subjects at Higher or Ordinary level in the Leaving Certificate from Irish, English, Maths, another language and two other subjects.

The Points System:

You will hear your daughter refer to the Points System!

•         The Points System is basically a selection system which is used by the Colleges when there are too many qualified applicants for the number of places available.

•         Points are calculated from one sitting of the Leaving Certificate.

•         Your daughter’s best six subjects are calculated to calculate her points total, using the Points calculation Chart in the CAO Handbook.

•         Your daughter received her copy of the CAO handbook on the first week of September.

•         All students have been informed how to calculate the points using their current subjects and the Level they are taking the subject at.

Further information:

There are also College places offered to students separate from the CAO System. The courses that these colleges offer are called PLCs’ (PostLeaving Cert Courses )

These Courses are offered by the following Colleges in Cork:

  1. College of Commerce
  2.  St JohnsCollege
  3. Stiophan Naofa       Students’ apply directly to these colleges either ‘on-line’ or by a written application form.

As these PLC Colleges operate on a ‘First come, First served’ basis, the sooner your daughters’ submit these applications the better.

Your daughters’ have been made aware of this information.

In the PLC Colleges, those students who achieve a Distinction in their end of year exams will be offered places in the CAO System. This is called the “LINK SYSTEM”.

•         There are two other routes to education to be aware of:

•         The Disability Access Route toEducation.

•         The Higher Education AccessRoute. UCC representative here to talk about this tonight.

Who is going to pay for all of this?

Funding  our students successfully through the Grant System:

While there are significant costs involved in Studying at Third level inIreland, most students survive due to a ‘pick and mix’ of

  1. The maintenance grant
  2. Family Support
  3. Savings
  4. Scholarships