Ten tips to completing CAO 2020 applications online, plus a short video guide for students

Ten tips to completing CAO 2020 applications online, plus a short video guide for students
Trish McGrath, Principal of Hewitt College, Cork, outlines a user-friendly guide to completing CAO applications online.

The 2020 CAO online application process is now open, a straightforward process as applicants for third level courses can see in the video, below.

Trish McGrath, Principal of Hewitt College, in Cork, advises students to take time when completing their CAO application, and to make it less stressful for themselves by applying early. She walks applicants through the process in this short, user-friendly video.

“Applicants have nothing to be anxious about,” said Trish. “The CAO online application form is straightforward. If you input incorrect course codes or omit any part of the form, your error will be highlighted. And, if you do have any difficulty, you should consult the CAO handbook online or your school's student guidance counsellor.

“Course choices don’t need to be finalised at this stage. However, I think that it’s a great idea to apply now, do some of your research and add some course choices to your CAO form. Many students have recently attended College Open Days, so this is a great time to do some extra research, rather than just putting it off. If you aren’t completely sure, that’s fine as you have until July 1st, 2020 to change your mind and/or finalise your course choices.”

It is important to note that if your chosen course has a portfolio, audition or interview component, then you should ensure that you check the specific deadline for this course, which may differ from the general deadlines.

Trish McGrath's Top Ten Tips for CAO 2020 applicants:

1. Save money: Apply before January 20 for a reduced application fee.

2. Check to ensure that your name on the CAO application is the same as on your birth certificate and/or passport.

3. The CAO will email you a verification code to complete your application. If you don't seem to have received this, check your email's spam folder.

4. Enter the correct years of school attendance – you'd be surprised how many students can’t remember the year in which they started secondary school!

5. When creating a password, create one which is just for your CAO application; a nice idea is to think about your future course and create a password based on your goal. Keep this password in a safe place.

6. You don't need to finalise your course choices until July 1st, 2020. However, you can add some course choices when making your initial application. Have those codes to hand when applying; if you get distracted while looking up course codes, your online application may time out and you'll have to start over. Add now, tweak later!

7. If you want to apply for a grant, don't forget to tick your maintenance fee grant application status on your CAO application form.

8. If you have an exemption from Irish or a third language, you must modify your NUI exemption status on your CAO application form.

9. If you are applying for HEAR or DARE, you need to tick the appropriate box on your CAO application. For more information on HEAR and DARE schemes, see: www.accesscollege.ie

10. Don't panic! The application process may seem daunting, but as the accompanying video shows, it’s not complicated.

Important dates for 2020 CAO applications:

  • January 20: Apply online by this date to avail of the discounted fee of €30.
  • February 1: Normal closing date for applicants (closes 17:15).

www.cao.ie

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