St Declan's College

Career Guidance Letter for 6th year parents

Career Guidance Letter for 6th year parents

25th October 2019

FAO: 6th year Parents/Guardians

Your son has been given a CAO booklet during his weekly guidance class. He can apply online through using a credit/laser card from November 5th. The closing date for application to CAO is February 1st 2020. Applications received on or before 20th of January will be charged at the reduced rate of €30. All information re applying is in the CAO booklet. He can use the change of mind facility between May 5th and July 1st once the course is not labelled ‘restricted application’. Students can apply for levels 6, 7 & 8 through the CAO system.

I would appreciate it if you would discuss career/course options with your son. Career options are being discussed with students both in class and will be discussed on an individual basis as requested. The new points system which came into operation in 2017 is being discussed in class in great detail. The points system and course information are available on and Please remember that it is the students’ responsibility to research courses fully.

Application to FETAC/QQI/ Post Leaving Cert courses are to individual colleges. These courses are at level 5. The closing dates vary but are usually around Jan/Feb. Students are normally interviewed for these courses before their Leaving Certificate. They will need a school reference. They should apply in writing to Mr Avery for this reference. Interview skills will be covered in class and on an individual basis where necessary. Early application to these courses is advised as many are on a first come first served basis.

I am aware that finance for college is a major concern for many parents. Information on financial support for further and higher education is available on www.susi ie. Your son may be eligible for a maintenance grant. Applications for this grant should open next April. Students apply on line and they will need your assistance.

The HEAR (Higher Education Access Scheme) is available to school leavers from socio-economic disadvantaged backgrounds. HEAR applicants must meet a range of financial, social and cultural indicators to be considered for a reduced points place and extra college support.

If your son has a disability (physical/mental health/ongoing illness/learning) he may wish to apply for the DARE scheme (Disability Access Route to Education). This is a supplementary admissions scheme which offers college places on reduced points and extra college support. There is a seminar called ‘Better Options’ on Monday 18th Nov from 10-1.30 in the Conference Centre, Marino Institute of Education, Dublin that you both can attend. This has been mentioned to your son during his guidance classes.

HEAR and DARE schemes

HEAR and DARE are applied for through the CAO. Information on both schemes is available on It is important if your son is applying for either or both of these schemes that he starts the process promptly as supporting documents are needed and that he is aware of the deadline dates. There will be HEAR & DARE advice clinics on Sat 11th of January in Maynooth University and TU Dublin, Aungier St from 10-2 pm.


SOLAS (formerly FAS) run a variety of courses. Students can register for these courses once they have completed their Leaving Cert. They are also the body who are in charge of apprenticeships. As you may know apprenticeships can be difficult to obtain so students are being encouraged to actively seek a potential employer at this stage. You may be in a position to help your son gain some work shadowing/experience in the area he is interested in so that he has an idea what is involved/ahead of him. He may need a CV and letter of application to apply for some apprenticeships. Your son will need your assistance with all of this as it might be difficult for him as a 17/18 year old to approach an employer without your guidance. Please help him with the skills to make these connections/approaches.


The open days for most of the CAO colleges are on in November and December. Dates are available on the ‘events calendar’ on the qualifax website. I have tried to cover the dates in class and I always encourage students to attend at least 1 open day. Please look at the dates with your son and get involved in preparing him so he can make the best use of his time at these days. All of the colleges have open day schedules on their websites.

It is in the students’ interests to keep their options open by applying to a variety of courses in different colleges.

The following websites provide useful information on courses and careers:

Careers and education

Finally please don’t hesitate to contact me at the school number if you have any questions concerning your son’s choices.

Karen Tierney

Guidance Counsellor

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