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Don’t panic! How to enter clearing with confidence

Ask any admissions tutor or student for advice on clearing and they’ll offer variations on one theme: don’t panic! “Give yourself time to compose yourself,” says Susie King, head of admissions at Middlesex University. “Don’t telephone when you are upset.”

So what else should you avoid doing when applying through Clearing? Not lying might seem a rather obvious piece of advice, but panic makes us do strange things. “Don’t be embarrassed about your grades – you did the best that you could and achieved the best you could,” says King. “Universities will check your grades, so be open and honest. The call will be confidential between you and the operator – nobody is listening in.”

It should also go without saying that it needs to be you who makes the call. Don’t be tempted to get your mum or your best mate to do it for you: it doesn’t look good and it’s pointless anyway – a university won’t deal with them. “Universities need to speak directly to students – not to parents or teachers,” says Helen Bower, assistant marketing director (undergraduate) at Northumbria University.

While having emotional support from your peers is great, exercise a bit of caution, says King: “Don’t let your friends sway you into making decisions that you are not comfortable with.”

And although it’s easy to get caught up in the rush to find a place – any place – don’t accept the first opportunity that comes along, says Zoe Carpenter, 18, currently studying animal biology at the University of Gloucestershire. “I went through clearing having declined all the universities that accepted me – I was unsure of what I wanted to do at the time,” she says. “Look thoroughly through all the courses on offer and be confident you are genuinely interested in the subject. Don’t just jump at the first one you like because you think you have no time.”

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‘You’re not alone’: Celebrities share their advice on A-level results day

“This is a fantastic day to make decisions” he told BBC Breakfast viewers.

“Education is for everybody. It has become more egalitarian … even people with the weirdest of results, there’s a place for them, and that’s what clearing is for.

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Leaving Cert advice: How to overcome results roadblocks

Expert guidance counsellors Brian Howard and Deirdre Garrett were working on address reader queries about Leaving Cert results and the CAO. 

If I accept a first-round offer, am I able to apply for a course through the available places facility?

Yes, absolutely. After the first round of offers, the facility works on a weekly schedule. Click on the vacant place section of the CAO website and you will see all the details and instructions on how to apply.

If I don’t get what I want on Monday, and I appeal some papers and my points go up to what I needed when I get the results back in October, can I still go into my first choice late in the year/can they hold my place?

They will offer you a place on their course subject to availability. If the course is full up, you will have to defer taking up your place until the 2018 academic year.

My son has applied for a course with a minimum O4 grade in Maths. He got O5. He has heard of a student from his old school who got around this issue by completing a module in his first semester to meet the requirements. Could this possibly be true?

Generally, entry requirements are non-negotiable, ie if you don’t meet them you don’t matriculate. There are some colleges who provide second-chance maths exams for those who didn’t meet the maths requirements for their course. I think the best thing to do here is to ring the admissions office of the college in question and seek their guidance on this, just to be sure.

My daughter got 461 points, has Dare eligibility, and chose Law in Trinity, Law in UCD and Arts in UCD as her one, two, three choices. If she accepts a place in Law in either Trinity or UCD, can she subsequently change course during the year to Arts in UCD?

Higher education institutions each have their own transfer policies. Many allow a transfer when a candidate has achieved enough points and available places exist on the course to which they are looking to transfer.

I would advise you to contact the admissions office of the particular university once you receive an offer.

My son has failed Maths. Is it too late for him to apply for a PLC course in GTI?

Candidates will be able to apply for PLC courses up until mid-September. Popular courses fill up fast. I recommend that you contact the further education college as soon as possible.

Is it possible to use this year’s points to reapply to college next year? I made a mess of my CAO application. I want Galway but only put it as my first and fifth options and fall one point short of my first choice. Dublin is choice two but I can’t go there.

Nobody knows the points for 2017 courses. This will not be known until Monday. Don’t lose hope.

The answer to your question is a yes. You can use this year’s points when applying to CAO in 2018.

Our son applied for Medicine in UCD and RCSI, but probably did not get the points. How can he go into Med as a graduate ?

Candidates for graduate medicine apply through the CAO. Eligibility will be on the basis of their degree and GAMSAT score. Fees can be high. It might be worth looking into.

My son doesn’t think his combined HPAT/Leaving Cert is sufficient to get offered Medicine. He has registered to sit the IMAT in London in September but won’t know the result until October. In the meantime, should he accept his CAO and Susi grant?

That’s a personal choice. One should study a course in which they have an interest. The fact that he put it on his CAO list suggests that he has interest. I would recommend that he researches it thoroughly. He should speak with course lecturers and students who are currently on the course.

Look into whether there is a date at which your son could drop out without suffering financial costs or without using up his registration fee for next year (if he isn’t happy in the course). His Susi grant would be claimed from September to this date for 2017. He would be entitled to a Susi grant the following year, minus the payments already received in 2017.

My daughter is unlikely to receive an offer for the paramedics course in UL. She was going to do a pre-paramedics PLC course, but we have now learned UL will not accept this next year. Are there other courses/career paths for EMTs/paramedics?

You can train as a paramedic through the HSE. These positions tend to be advertised on

EMT courses can be done throughout the country. Probably best to search close to your area.

My daughter wanted to do Occupational Therapy in Trinity but hasn’t secured enough points. Is there a PLC course which she could do this year that will allow her to apply for this course next year or what would you suggest as another option?

As far as I am aware, Trinity Occupational Therapy is not a Fetac-linked course and so there would be no PLC course linked to it. I would suggest giving TCD admissions and TCD Occupational Therapy a ring just to clarify if they have any other entry routes, be they direct or indirect. It’s better to have a conversation with them just in case.

There is a postgraduate OT course in Limerick. You just need to have any undergraduate level 8 degree in any discipline at grade 2.2 and complete the HPAT Ireland. The only other option is to study it in the UK, at undergraduate or postgraduate level.

Is it an option to repeat a couple of subjects and combine the points with your 2017 Leaving Cert results?

You can repeat individual subjects. However, your new grade can only be used to satisfy minimum entry requirements. You cannot add grades from 2018 to grades received in 2017.

You can, however, repeat all six subjects. You would sit exams in June 2018. You can then compare your 2018 points to 2017 and choose the best one.

Where would you recommend to repeat in Dublin apart from the Institute of Education? For courses such as Medicine in particular.

This is a list from CareersPortal of schools/colleges that provide a repeat option. It is very hard to recommend one as they all have their own strengths. Maybe go through the list below and form your own opinion as to what might work best for you.

Available in Schools [17]

Bruce College

Coláiste Mhuire, Mullingar

Marino College

O’Connell’s School

O’Fiaich College

Portlaoise College

Ringsend College

Rockwell College

St Flannan’s College

St Joseph’s CBS

St Joseph’s College

St Laurence College

The Institute of Education

Whitehall College of Further Education

Yeats College Galway

Yeats College Waterford

Available in Further Education Colleges [12]

Pearse College of Further Education

Plunket College

Rathmines College of Further Education

Bray Institute of Further Education

Ringsend College

Carlow Institute of Further Education

Cork College of Commerce

Abbeyleix Further Education Centre

Northeast College

Kilroy’s College

Limerick Tutorial College

Ashfield College

Who can I contact for emergency career guidance advice, preferably for free or at low cost?

In the first instance I would suggest your school if you have access to one. If not, I would suggest contacting the Institute of Guidance Counsellors on 01-6761975, who may maintain a list of private practitioners.

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A-level results: Solihull College & University Centre wins gold for its higher education

Solihull College University Centre will be holding a Higher Education advice day for prospective students looking to start their university level studies this September on Tuesday, August 22, from 2pm to 6pm at Blossomfield Campus.

The college was recently awarded a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) “Gold” rating for its university-level provision, the only college in the West Midlands to achieve this, beating many top Russell Group universities.

So, are you thinking of staying local for your degree, ready for a career change or didn’t get the A-level results you were hoping for?

With campuses set in convenient locations and extremely competitive fees compared to many universities, the college offers you the chance to stay local and save thousands on your degree. Many courses are offered full and part-time allowing students to fit studies around work and family life.

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A-level results – What next?

The college’s facilities are unmatched in the region, with recent investment in virtual reality and industry-standard science laboratories at Blossomfield Campus and the Centre for Advanced Aeronautical Provision featuring world class flight simulators and a former Royal Navy aircraft at Woodlands Campus. The new University Centre at Blossomfield also gives students the chance to relax and study in an area designed solely for university-level students, away from the hustle and bustle of the college.

A wide range of equipment is available at Solihull College

A wide range of equipment is available at Solihull College

Students can study on courses offered in partnership with top universities, including Oxford Brookes, Newman, Coventry, Northampton and Warwick, as well as the college’s own provision. Programmes available include HNCs, HNDs, Foundation, Top-Up, Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees developed with the help of industry across a variety of exciting subject areas.

New degrees on offer for September 2017 include games design virtual reality, history and English literature, veterinary nursing and creative film production.

Take the next step towards your dream career right here in Solihull!

  • For more information on the university-level courses available for September 2017 drop in to the Higher Education Advice Day, visit or call 0121 678 7000.

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Looking for advice after exams? – Belfast Newsletter

Exam results often present a crossroads where and making informed decisions is imperative to effective career planning.

The Department for the Economy’s Careers Service say they are here to help, providing impartial advice and guidance on a range of career options including further and higher education, apprenticeships, training, employment and voluntary work opportunities.

Head of the Careers Service, Frances O’Hara said: “It is important that those receiving exam results or making decisions about their next steps on their career paths have all the relevant information about future education, training and employment opportunities.

“If you need immediate advice following results, you can talk to a careers advisor online using our instant messaging facility which is available at

“The service is available from 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. We have extended opening hours on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 August from 9.00am to 7.30pm to provide additional support for those getting their A level results.

“For GCSE results, the opening hours for this service have been extended from 9.00am to 7.30pm on Thursday 24 and Friday 25 August.

“Alternatively young people and parents can access a wealth of useful information including contact details of careers advisers throughout Northern Ireland at

“You can also call 0300 200 7820 to speak directly to a careers adviser.”

Explaining the potential options available to young people, Frances added: “There are a number of choices available for those receiving their exam results at this time including;

Further Education (FE): FE offers a wide range of full and part time qualifications, including Foundation Degrees. The courses are geared towards preparing learners entering the world of work and the professional and technical qualifications have been developed in conjunction with employer bodies and are a strong first step to accessing different career paths.

Foundation Degrees (FDs) are professional and technical higher education qualifications, delivered by colleges and awarded by universities which integrate academic and work-related study. They offer an alternative progression route from A levels into higher education and an alternative route to a Bachelors degree. FDs are stand-alone qualifications with an emphasis on the development of skills in the workplace which will assist successful students in gaining suitable employment. You can contact your local FE College for more information visit

Clearing/Alternative degree courses: If you have not been offered a place on your chosen course, you may be able to find a place at university on a similar course using UCAS clearing – see This facility advertises vacant courses at universities across the UK. Your results may also cause you to re-think the courses you have already applied for.

Apprenticeships: The apprenticeship programme gives you the opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’ – to be in paid employment and achieve nationally recognised skills and qualifications in a variety of occupations. Learning takes place both ‘on the job’ and ‘off the job’ working towards the achievement of an industry approved qualification. Apprenticeship training is delivered at your local further education college and by a number of other contracted training suppliers. Check

“This is an important time for all young people and I would encourage them to make sure they have all the relevant information to ensure they make the decisions right for them and their future career path.”

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Warren: Education Dept lawyer may have violated conflict-of-interest laws

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren: Liberals will ‘lead the Democratic Party back from the wilderness’ Warren asks where bank CEOs stand on customers’ ability to join class action suits Labor Department seeks delay of Obama investment adviser rule MORE (D-Mass.) is pressing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for answers as to whether or not an Education Department lawyer violated a federal conflict-of-interest law by working to repeal an Obama-era nonprofit college rule while working for a company that owns several for-profit schools.

Warren this week sent a letter to DeVos, asking her to detail Robert Eitel’s involvement with the Education Department’s work to roll back the Borrower Defense to Repayment rule. 

The rule prohibits schools that receive federal funds from including language in contracts that force students to waive their right to participate in class-action lawsuits.

Warren claims Eitel served both as the vice president of regulatory legal services at Bridgepoint Education Inc., a company that owns several for-profit colleges, and as a special assistant to DeVos from February to April before being appointed senior counselor to the secretary.

The Massachusetts senator said she has repeatedly questioned Eitel’s involvement in the department’s work to redo the rule originally designed to hold abusive higher education institutions accountable for cheating students and taxpayers out of billions of dollars in federal loans.

“If Eitel provided any written or verbal advice to the Secretary of Education and Department or Administration Staff on any aspect of the borrower defense rule-a ‘particular matter’ that affects the financial interest of Bridgepoint-between February 13, 2017, and April 5, 2017, including on implementation, delay, or rulemaking while employed both at the Department and at Bridgepoint, and did so without receiving any relevant waiver, then it appears that Eitel may have violated the criminal conflict-of-interest statute,” she said in her letter on Tuesday.  

Warren noted that Eitel currently serves as chairman of the department’s Regulatory Reform Task Force and co-authored a report in May recommending the repayment rule for repeal. She asked DeVos to answer a series of questions about Eitel’s specific involvement in the agency’s work to repeal the rule by Sept. 1.

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My advice to anyone awaiting results is not to stress over it

A survival guide for Junior and Leaving Cert students (and parents)

Ask Brian: I want to study nursing. What are my options?

Should I take a hairdressing job without doing a PLC course?

Brian Mooney: Waiting almost over for Leaving Cert students

Brexit and higher education: ‘The interest in Ireland is amazing’

Why is the cost of special education soaring?

‘Mediocre men outperform outstanding women’

Sacramental preparation does not belong during regular school day

CAO: College applicants banking on strength of Irish economy

Does teachers’ vote signal industrial strife for schools next autumn?

Catholic grip on education being slowly loosened

Private schools will ruck on despite new admission rules

Varadkar’s push for PE as Leaving Cert subject requires heavy-lifting

Paul Ricoeur: The philosopher behind Emmanuel Macron

What does sport tell us about morality?

Aristotle got it wrong: We have a lot more than five senses

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Starting a Politics degree: advice from a former Oxford student

“So you want to be the Prime Minister then?” If you’re starting a Politics degree in September, you’d better get used to this question.

Prepare for queries from family members over whether you’d rather be Chancellor or Foreign Secretary. Prepare, at the mere mention of your studies, for your grandfather to sound off to you about how political correctness is ruining Christmas – as if you, as a Politics undergraduate, have some way of fixing it.

Indeed, the reputation of social science students as ruthlessly ambitious blood-suckers who all dream of a place at the Cabinet table has become impossible to dispel in recent years. See, for instance, the recent celebration that History has replaced Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) as the degree of choice among MPs.

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K-State professors offer back to school advice

The first several days of school will plant roots for the rest of the academic year, say education professors at Kansas State University.

“The first days and weeks are tough, so it’s best for parents to provide as much patience, understanding and support as possible,” said Spencer Clark, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in the university’s College of Education.

Providing choices, such as what to wear and whether to bring a lunch or eat in the school cafeteria, helps students feel a sense of ownership in the process of preparing for school, said Lori Levin, who also is an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in the College of Education.

“Anytime kids have a choice, it’s freeing,” Levin said. “Choice is a huge motivator for children and teens alike.”

Students experiencing full-day kindergarten will probably be tired, irritable, fussy and hungry for the first few weeks of full schooldays, whether they go to day care afterward or come straight home, Levin said. It will take them some time to get acclimated to being engaged in high levels of activity for six hours of the day.

To help prepare them for long days, Levin recommends having children go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until they reach the ideal bedtime, using blackout window shades if necessary. Elementary-age children need 10-11 hours of sleep per night to function at their best, Levin said.

Mornings are important as well. The professors advise offering healthy breakfast foods or having high-protein granola bars on hand that children can eat on the way to school.

“It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but they do need to have something in their tummies before they head off to school for hours of learning,” Levin said.

Middle school brings new challenges to students, including changing bodies and a transition toward adulthood, Clark said.

“Studies show that the No. 1 thing that helps kids be resilient through middle school is knowing they have one adult in their life, whether it’s a parent, teacher, coach or clergy member, who they can rely on,” Levin said.

Regardless of the child’s age, Levin advises parents to share honestly with their children about their school experiences, including the fun times, the challenging times and how they overcame difficulties. Also, it is key for parents to ask about and acknowledge their children’s feelings about school.

“Listening attentively and without judgement is so important,” Levin said.

For teens entering high school, Clark recommends parents talk with them about how their decisions at this school level will affect their future steps, Clark said. However, parents should not put undue pressure on their children and instead should help the teens balance their activities and homework to achieve success, Levin said.

They can do this by discussing the teen’s schedule with him or her, helping teens decide when they should work on homework, and assisting them in selecting which extracurricular activities they want to participate in and how those activities may relate to their strengths and goals, Levin said.

“Studies of feedback from high schoolers show they are under tremendous pressure, which they put on themselves and feel from parents to get good grades, be in a sport and get into a great college,” Levin said. “Having reasonable expectations is important. So many teens try to do it all and get overwhelmed. Having some down time without technology is really important.”

For any age of student, the professors advise attending “back to school night,” which many schools offer to provide an opportunity for students to see classrooms, meet teachers and get acquainted with peers. If that is not available, parents and students can stop by to meet teachers and learn the building’s layout, Levin said.

“There are a lot of unknowns for students when they enter a new school, so anything to inform them about the unknowns will help to alleviate stress,” Clark said.

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ISU move-in days bring more Redbirds to family

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