Change of Mind Deadline Looms

The class of 2020 has faced much uncertainty in this unique year, not least around options for next year. However, there are practical steps students can take to improve their chances of making good, informed, personal choices. Every year a certain number of students drop out of college or do not progress from 1st year. Report from the Higher Education Authority shows that an average of one in six, drop out of their college courses. The main reasons given by students always include choosing the wrong course and/or not having done sufficient research on the course content.


A recent poll conducted this year by Careers Portal on Instagram found that 69% are still unsure of their final CAO courses. The deadline for CAO “change of mind” is July 1st; therefore, this deadline should be at the forefront of thinking over the next couple of weeks. There are more flexible deadlines for other routes.


What should Leaving Cert students be considering now?


Understand how the “order “works

The order is particular to the CAO system where students will only get one offer, that is, the course highest on your list for which you qualify. For instance, if you get the points and minimum subject requirements for your first choice, that will be the only offer you will receive. If you do not get your first choice, you will then be considered for your second choice, and so on down the list. Students can receive an offer from the level 8 list and the level 6/7 list. It is important to note that if you receive an offer for a course, for example, your 3rd choice, you are not at a disadvantage compared to a student who chose that course as their 1st choice. Find a full explanation of the ‘order’.


Consider Level 6 and 7 Course

In most cases, there will be an “add – on” option to move up to level 8 in any chosen course. The slightly slower pace of the level 7 may suit you!


Properly review the modules and subjects inside the year course.

Doing this will give you a more precise idea of what the course entails. For example, in Biomedical courses there is a lot of Chemistry content, in Games development there can be two years of computer programming. Make sure you know what you are signing up for.


Consider several colleges

The novelty of going away from home can soon fade. Most of the institutes of Education now have both Level 8 and level 9 postgraduate courses. The Quality and Qualification Ireland (QQI) has come up with the levels system, which allows applicants to compare the levels of courses. Therefore, a level 8 course in one college has essentially the same content and, is the same degree as a level 8 in another college.


Applying to colleges is not mutually exclusive

It is possible and advisable to be aware of different routes and also different ways of getting to the same destination. For example, if you wanted to study either physiotherapy, dietetics or O.T., you will have the option of studying for two years in LYIT, then two more years at Coventry University.


Be aware of the cost of 3rd level education

Factor in expenses for accommodation, school fees, and learning materials and equipment (such as stationaries and laptop), as well as the general cost of living. Also, be aware of grants and scholarships that are available in Ireland, is a useful starting point for grants, and each college has sections for accommodation and scholarships.


Consider other opportunities in the Further Education Sector in Ireland

Post Leaving Cert courses are a great way into many third-level courses, especially if you do not achieve the points in your Leaving Cert. Additionally, the apprenticeship route has dramatically expanded in the last number of years. There are many new areas, as well as the traditional trades. Some of the new areas where you can “earn as you learn” are Accounting, Logistics, Insurance, ICT and laboratory.  What this means is that you will get paid as you do your degree.


If you do not know what courses and careers are most suitable for you, consider seeking professional advice to understand what types of careers align with your interests, skills, personality and values. At Nicholls Gallagher, we provide professional career guidance services based on scientifically proven psychometric, aptitude and personality assessments.


Book a Consultation Today

Career Choice And Subject Options



Many students are now faced with choosing subjects for leaving cert. The following addresses some questions and issues, that students and their parents should consider at this crucial time.

Why is choosing the right leaving cert subjects so important?

Choosing the right subjects is key to successfully gaining access to the right third-level or post leaving cert courses. While choosing subjects you like is important, students should also consider the impact these choices will have on their college courses and career options. At Nicholls Gallagher Career Advisors, we regularly deal with students who, as a result of making the wrong subject choices, limit their options when it comes to choosing 3rd level courses and careers.

What 3rd level courses require specific subjects?

(The following are some popular careers that require specific Leaving Cert subjects)

Medicine – (2 science subjects are required for a 5-year degree, students with just one science subject have to undertake an additional one-year pre-med course)

Physiotherapy – (one science subject at a higher level is a basic requirement)

Radiography – (one science subject at a higher level is a basic requirement)

Engineering – (having honour in higher-level maths is a requirement for higher-level engineering degrees. An A or B in ordinary level maths is desirable for ordinary level engineering degrees and certificates)

Nursing – (Biology at higher level is a basic requirement)
Primary School Teaching – (an honour in higher-level Irish is a basic requirement)

A second language (e.g., French, Spanish, Italian, and German) is required for access to the National Universities of Ireland (UCD, UCC, UCG, and Maynooth) except for science and engineering degrees.

What key issue should I consider when choosing subjects?

1. Your long-term career options
2. Your level of interest in the subject
3. Your aptitude for specific subjects

Why is career direction essential to consider at this early stage?

1. Heightened Motivation to succeed – from our experience, students who have a clear career direction are generally more motivated to succeed in their exams. The worry of accurately filling out the CAO and UCAS forms is also alleviated, allowing them to concentrate specifically on their studies.

2. Work experience focus – Identifying specific career options at an early stage enables students to gain relevant work experience during the summer months – this gives them a significant advantage when applying for jobs. Transition year students are also encouraged to gain work experience in a voluntary capacity. Many third-level courses now offer work experience opportunities during term time.

As a sixteen-year-old student, I have little work experience and am therefore uncertain as to what careers I would enjoy or be most suited to, how do I address this?

1. Build on your level of self-awareness – knowing yourself and key personal traits, your thinking style, and your occupational preferences and motivations will help you to identify suitable careers when reviewing job descriptions.

2. Seek professional guidance – working with an experienced career guidance consultant and undertaking professional psychometric assessments will give you an invaluable insight into your personality profile, i.e. your key traits and attributes; the areas that will motivate you and the work activities that appeal to you most. Matching your profile to suitable careers and the relevant third level courses at an early stage significantly reduces the future risk of dropping out and having to start the difficult process all over again!

3. Research career areas of interest – talk to people in these jobs and build a portfolio of careers that appeal to you. (Visit Career Directions on for a comprehensive A – Z list of job descriptions).

Nicholls Gallagher Career Advisors is an organisation committed to the delivery of professional career guidance for students seeking advice on career choices, 3rd level courses, and subject choices. We also offer in-depth career development and change service.

Contact us for a consultation.

CAO Change of Mind Facility Opens May 5th – July 1st 2020

Closing date for late CAO applications is May 1st (5.15 pm). Further applications after this date will not be accepted for 2020 academic year.

Fee for online application is €60. This can be paid using a Credit or Debit Card (Visa or MasterCard). Advance payment of fee can be made at a bank within the Republic of Ireland using an Application Fee Payment Form. Application Fee Payment Form may be obtained by contacting CAO.

CAO change of mind facility for applications amendments or for first time listing of course choices opens May 5th until July 1st.

If you are unsure as to what the best CAO options are for you, now is the time to undergo an assessment to identify the most appropriate courses!

At Nicholls Gallagher, we work closely with students to help them to identify career and course options based on their motivations, personality, occupational interests and aptitudes.

The service includes:
• A full psychometric assessment
• One to one consultation with an experienced careers advisor
• Free follow up meetings with your consultant for any further advice.

Fee for service – €200

Contact us for consultation or to speak to one of our advisors

Useful links:

CAO 2020 Application


Irish Times

SUSI Online Applications Are Open


SUSI online applications are now open for the 2020/21 academic year. 

A large number of students may qualify for a SUSI college grant for the 2020/21 academic year due to the impact of Covid-19 on many household finances.

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to get on it, as SUSI is expecting a very high number of students to send in applications in the coming months. Students are encouraged to apply online as quickly as possible. Leaving Cert results or accepted course is not needed. However, you will be required to provide details of your chosen course. Change of mind at a later date on your course/college choice can be updated or amended online.

Contact us if you need help with filling out applications.


Useful links:

SUSI Application Form Guide 2020/21

Eligibility Reckoner

SUSI Grant Process

SUSI Forms



Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI)





What To Consider When Accepting Offers


Consider the following when accepting offers:


Financial Implication: Consider the financial implications of where you plan to study. Avoid choosing a location because your friends are going there. Consider local Colleges and Institutions where courses of interest may also be offered.

Course Syllabus: Read carefully the modules covered in your chosen courses. The course name may not necessarily reflect the content. Ensure that the modules, and how they are taught, appeal specifically to you.

Remember to play to your strength, interests, personality, and motivation. Even though it may not be necessary to know what career you are going to pursue following your studies, it is advisable to have a general idea of the types of environments that might suit your specific personality profile, work activities that interest you and subjects that motivate you!