final CAO choices

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  1. Decision making is a mix of emotion and information – you need to know what you’re letting yourself in for and it has to feel right.cao
  2. Once you decide on your 1st choice be consistent with your 2nd & 3rd preferences, etc – make them similar to your 1st.
  3. There are always alternate routes – use some of the remaining options as alternative routes to your main goal.  In past years too many students with high points were left with no college/university offers because they picked just a few highly competitive courses with no back-up plans.
  4. Be smart, make sure you also have one insurance option.
  5. Remember to check that you meet any special entry requirements – if you don’t have these then choose an alternate route.
  6. If you’re stuck then ask for help from family or if you would like to have a chat just give me a call.
  7. Lastly be optimistic and ambitious – identify the challenge you’ll relish the most and choose what feels right for you.

How to choose your Leaving Cert Subjects

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There a few key principles when it comes to choosing the right subjects;

  1. If you like and have enjoyed a particular subject so far then put it down on your list.
  2. Apart from the mandatory ones like Maths and English what other subject has to be there.
  3. Look ahead at any career or course that appeals to you by checking it out on Qualifax (for apprenticeships look on CareersPortal) to see if a ‘specific subject or course requirement’ is listed – this means you must have it in your Leaving Cert. eg Nutrition & Dietetics and most of the Medicine courses look for Chemistry or the normal* requirement for a 3rd language on most Arts/Humanities/Commerce at the NUI colleges. (*exemptions sometimes apply)
  4. Sometimes it’s wise to be brave and take a subject now rather than avoid it because it forms a significant part of the course you’re aiming for. Click on the ‘School’ icon on CareersPortal, go to the ‘Leaving Cert’ section and click on ‘Leaving Cert Subjects’ descriptions – this is how to get more information.
  5. Look at the thinking and learning that each of your preferred subjects involves and be honest with yourself as to your suitability for it – will it build on your strengths or will you have to put in a lot of extra work to do well? We all learn differently so the important thing here is that you know how you learn best and how committed you are to it. The insights from aptitude tests and skills questionnaires can be of help with this if you are unsure.
  6. It makes sense to bundle 2 or 3 subjects together if you have an interest in a particular area as this can better prepare you for what’s ahead i.e. by taking more than just 1 STEM, Arts/Humanities or Business subject, etc you give yourself a much better base for a course or career in that sector.
  7. Your successes will come from your attitude as much as abilities, your willingness to do whatever it takes, your drive to learn faster and develop yourself. It’s important to enjoy the sense of challenge in what your doing.

Get your head out of the sand – 7 steps to making the right choice

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Don’t wait, act now. It will be Christmas before you know it.
The university college application deadlines follow quickly after that.
And then you’re into exams mode …

Open Day season is now running so;

  • Start with what you think interests you most (asking how it relates to your strengths/talents), what you’d like to be good at and/or skills you’d like to develop – if you’re not sure what you’d prefer just ask your family, friends, take interest/aptitude tests, talk to your Guidance Counsellor
  • Decide if you’d prefer a definite/career-focused/applied   or  a broad/open-ended/academic course
  • Find out where you can do it using Qualifax, Eunicas & CareersPortal
  • Check out their Virtual Open Day or specific Career Fair – you can get a list of these on the Qualifax Events Calendar
  • Organise your own visit for your top few choices if your school isn’t doing one – it’s up to you to find a way to get informed
  • Review the full course details online and jot down anything you’re unsure about – you will want these queries to be answered
  • Share your insights & experiences with your family & friends – this is the bit that helps you clarify your feelings about these choices before you make a final commitment

To help you do this there are many course & career websites – save time by being very specific when researching on  unibrowse, qualifax, eunicas, & careersportal, onetonline, etc

Do yourself a favour, get stuck into the task now.  Get informed & set yourself a definite goal.  It’s time to get ready.

You’ll feel better, more purposeful and in control of your own destiny

Need guidance but going nowhere?

Consider our Teleguidance video-conference service

– just call for details.

10 tips for choosing your Leaving Cert subjects


  1. Be interested.

    If you enjoy doing something, you will ultimately do it well.  Pick subjects that you have liked, enjoyed and shown an enthusiasm for.  So often you can pick a subject because of the teacher, maybe you like them or hear they are good, but it might not be the subject you would enjoy the most.  Although a teacher or parent’s input is very important, you are going to be the one who has to do the subject.  So make sure you are interested in learning that subject. It makes your chances of success far greater.

  2. Be Brave.

    Sometimes the easy choices are not the right ones.  If you have an interest in a career or course area which involves a particular subject you consider challenging, be brave and take it now.  A lot of students make the mistake of choosing just one science subject.  If you like science, be smart, keep your options open and take a second one.  This doesn’t mean that you are choosing a science based career at this stage, but you will be better prepared to make that decision if you eventually do.  For example, it would be advisable to take Maths & Physics for engineering but it’s essential to have Honours Chemistry for Nutrition & Dietetics.  Be brave now. Read the rest of this entry »

Parents DIY Career Guidance course – how to help your son or daughter make the right choice

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  • First principles on How to Choose a career or a university/college course
  • How to make sense of the huge range of courses
  • The key to understanding and interpreting their talents, Multiple Intelligences and Aptitude Strengths
  • How to relate their strengths to their interests
  • Recognising their preference for Learning so they can do something they’d love

6 things to remember as you make you options final;

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It’s your choice – You live & work with your decisions.

Be consistent – if you want something be it Engineering, IT, Arts, etc then put all available courses in your preferred order.  Don’t hop from one type to something different as it suggests you’re not sure what you’re letting yourself in for.

Put down your 1st preference –  then pick alternative routes to the same end goal,  eg  if you want Medicine but don’t get it then a good alternative might be BioMedical/Medical/MedLab Science or, Physiology/Anatomy/Biochemistry taken in a broad omnibus Science degree or, a Health Science course.  The same goes for other popular courses.

Do check that you meet any special requirements – such as a specific minimum grade in a particular subject.  There’s no point in selecting a course that you’re not eligible for.

Do a final check to for new courses in your preferred area – the CAO/UCAS/EUNiCAS post all additions & amendments on their websites.

Remember, decision making is a mix of  Information & Emotion.

It’s your choice.