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What can you do if you don't get a place in the second round of CAO offers?

Exam time.

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The second round of CAO offers are this week. For some students this will bring the relief of being offered a place, but if you aren't one those receiving an offer, what options are open to you?

While there still will be a small number of offers as students who previously accepted places change their mind before registration, there are still options open to students who don't receive an offer of a place.

Post Leaving Cert (PLC) courses

These courses comprise eight modules and are an ideal way to get experience and grounding in an area of interest. Many students seeking to enter nursing, for example, who don't qualify for an offer in the first and second rounds, opt for a pre-nursing PLC course which will help them gain important first aid skills as well as introducing them to many of the subjects they will study at college. Best of all, courses like this give you a new entry route for college as places for high achieving PLC graduates are kept open for the next academic year. For more information see


During the boom years apprenticeships - save those for the construction industry - were often overlooked for a college degree, despite the fact they offer excellent education and experience and in many cases, qualifications which lead to more employment opportunities outside of Ireland than some degrees will. Best of all, for students taking on an apprenticeship there is the opportunity to 'earn as you learn'. Some websites worth looking at include - for construction based opportunities and - for those looking at careers in accounting.

Private colleges

The private education sector still has a wide range of courses available, either through vacant places on the CAO or by direct application to the college. Fees are a higher than the usual university registration costs but there is some tax relief available.

Repeating the Leaving Cert

This is never really a popular option but, if repeating will allow you to gain those vital points you need and, most importantly, you are prepared to work to achieve this, then this is an option worth considering.

Taking a gap year

For some students the reality is that they really don't know what they want to pursue as a career. Some students are very young finishing their Leaving Cert while others genuinely haven't any idea what they want to do. While not ideal for every student, sometimes taking a gap year to travel or volunteer, gives you a chance to think about interest you, leading to an area of study you may never have considered before. It also gives you experience in the workforce which can also lead to different career paths so it can be a very valuable opportunity. Be warned, taking a year out and not working or volunteering will not only waste time, it will also make it much harder to return to study or work in the future.

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