This has been a difficult week for so many people as the country comes to terms with a surge in COVID cases. Health is by far the biggest priority for everyone at the moment and rightly so. That said, for students who will not now be returning to school as planned, recent developments have understandably meant greater anxiety, particularly among Leaving Certs. So we return to one of the key messages from experts around dealing with uncertainty, that is we need to focus on what is within our control and try to let go of what is outside of it.

As a Leaving Cert student you do have the capacity to control your own study and revision, your course research and college applications. As we head into CAO season, it is really important to focus your attention on researching college courses and careers if you haven’t already done so and it will hopefully lift your spirits to think of the next stage of your journey when things are brighter later in 2021. Use your time wisely to research the detail of the courses that interest you by checking out the module details on the college websites. You should also be getting familiar with how the CAO process works by accessing the excellent student resources available on

If you are having difficulty trying to decide on courses don’t panic, you will have plenty of time to change your mind before July 1. For now the important thing is to make sure you meet those all-important key dates and application deadlines.


January 9 – Virtual Application Information Day for DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) from 10am – 11.30am and for HEAR (Higher Education Access Route) from 12.30pm – 2pm. Register on

January 20 at 5.15pm – Deadline for CAO discounted application fee (€30) on

January 20 at 5.15pm – Deadline for registration for the HPAT exam required for applying for medicine on

January 29 – Deadline for UCAS applications for entry to college is the UK on (This has been extended from January 15)

February 1 at 5.15pm – Normal closing date for CAO applications (€45) and the online facility to change course choices for free closes. Students who wish to apply for HEAR or DARE must have applied to CAO by this deadline. The closing date for completion of the online HEAR/DARE forms is March 1 at 5.15pm.

In next week’s issue I will be featuring a Q&A about CAO, so if you are applying to CAO as a Leaving Cert, Further Education or Mature Student or the parent/guardian of an applicant, email me your questions on or send me a DM on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @mycareerplan.