Featured in – Irish Daily Mirror and Irish Daily Star

August 31, 2023
The CAO offers are out now – what next?


In an ideal world, a student would know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives. They would get the points for the course they hoped for, and the CAO offer from their preferred university. But that’s just not realistic for most students, who are still uncertain of what they want from a career or what the right next step is. This is perfectly normal for such a big decision at such a young age. It is also very challenging for parents to guide their children on what to do, as course choices and career options continue to evolve and change. And let’s face it, most teenagers won’t listen to their parents!

There is a widespread perception amongst Leaving Cert students that the points they get, and the next step they take, will determine the rest of their career. Even though this isn’t the case, it is understandable that many students will be distraught if they didn’t get the CAO offer, they were hoping for.


Whether the CAO offer went their way or not, it is important to consider the options:
  1. Work with what you’ve got. If you received a CAO offer from any of your lower preference Level 8 or Level 6/7 choices, you should still consider taking it. Working your way towards a Level 8 degree will open many more doors for you in your future career. Such as postgraduate master’s in education leading to a career in primary or secondary teaching.
  2. Consider alternative routes. PLC courses are another great route to entry into many universities. They can also give students a taster for their chosen field of study. For those not interested in going to university, apprenticeships can be another excellent way to forge a career. Apprenticeships are available in areas from accountancy and auctioneering to stone masonry and engineering.
  3. Repeat the Leaving Certificate. It might not be the most appealing idea, but repeating the Leaving Certificate is always an option. However, It is imperative to be motivated to put the work in, where feasible it is also advisable to attend a specialist school such as Yeats College.
  4. Take time out. Your career will be long, so there is a lot to be said for taking a year out to gain a better understanding of where your skills lie and what career they could lead to. This could involve volunteering, travelling, or working in a variety of different roles.

Top Tips for University

No matter what option you choose, it is an exciting time, a step on the road to independence. For students embarking on their first year in university here are some top tips of getting the most out of this time:

  • Join clubs & socs: all universities will have a wide range of clubs and societies that students can join. From archery to zoology, you are sure to find something to match your interests. This can be the initiation into your college social life an opportunity to meet new friends and enhance your own personal development.
  • Getting accommodation. Securing accommodation for third level courses is one of the biggest challenges facing university students. Start your search as soon as possible and utilise your network. If your neighbour, aunt, or postman knows of someone who has student accommodation options in your chosen location get them to put you in contact. Be careful of anything that sounds too good to be true, if you are paying a deposit ensure you get a contract there are unfortunately a lot of scams out there.
  • Manage your time wisely. It is likely going to be the first time you are fully responsible for getting up in the morning and getting to your classes. And this newfound freedom can feel exciting but try and remain disciplined missing a class here and there can soon build up and impact your overall performance and exam results.

As you progress through your career you will find that your skillset, your work ethic, your attitude to life, and your personality are what carves out the right career for you. Whether the CAO offers have gone your way or not you will have options to move forward and take the next step on your career path.


  • Laura Griffin

Griffin Career Consultancy – www.griffincareerconsultancy.ie