Everything You Need To Know About Filling Out Your CAO Form

And choosing your options after the Leaving Cert.

If you’re in your Leaving Cert year, you probably hear the words CAO quite a few times a day! Especially this time of year when you’re meant to be filling it out and deciding on which college courses you’d like to apply for.

But it can sometimes feel pretty confusing and overwhelming too.

If you’re filling your CAO application out this year, or are curious about it for your leaving cert year, read on.

First thing’s first:

The important dates you need to know for your CAO application

You may have already filled out your CAO form, but if you haven’t check out the details below:

-20th January 2022 (17:00) Apply online by this date to avail of the discounted application fee of €30.
-1st February (17:00) Normal closing date for applications.
-4th February (12:00) Online facility to amend course choices becomes available (€10 Fee)
Before 15th February Paper Applicants will be sent a Statement of Course Choices
(Contact CAO if you do not receive it)
-1st March (17:00) Closing date for amending course choices
Closing date for completion of mature section of application form
Closing date for final completion of online HEAR/DARE forms
-4th March (12:00) Late application facility opens.
-15th March (17:00) Latest date for HEAR/DARE supporting documentation to arrive in CAO
-1st May (17:00) Closing date for late applications
-5th May (12:00) Online Change of Mind facility becomes available (Free)
1st July (17:00) Change of Mind closes.

What else do I need to know about filling it out? 

First up, it’s important that your information is correct. For example, make sure your email address is valid, to avoid issues down the line. Give yourself plenty of time too (not minutes before the deadline) to fill it out, as internet issues, payment processing issues, or just general login issues could arise and you need time to fix it and start over if you have to, without panic.

I still don’t know what I want to be when I’m older

If you’re unsure about what to fill out on your CAO, have a chat with your guidance counselor, they should be able to advice you about what skills and subjects you can use in your future.

If you don’t agree, or still feel unsure, reach out to anyone in the line of work you’re interested in and ask them for a chat. You can ask them about their time studying and what the job is like in real life.

You can also check out our How I Got My Job section on KISS.ie where you’ll see all sorts of professionals talking about how they got to where they are now.

I don’t know which order to put the courses I want

It’s important to put the course you want the most at the top of your list. However, it’s also crucial that you only put down courses that you actually want. If you throw down just about anything to fill up your form, you could end up in a course you have no real interest in. Take your time, don’t panic, and place your course choices in order of preference, not in order of points or chances you’ll get them.

If you have two or three very similar courses on your CAO and you’re not sure which you want the most, have a look at Qualifax, which gives you a detailed description of each course and the modules and subjects too.

Whatever you decide to do school, make sure that you’re putting yourself first and doing what you truly want to do, and you’re not doing it just to make other people happy!

I’m not sure if I want to go to college or university.

If you’re not sure about going straight to college after school, check out our post on the many options you have after your leaving cert.