Francis O' Toole Author – Careers Ireland

Students' embarking on their career journey – Is Féidir linn

  • December 2019
    M T W T F S S
    « Oct    
  • Blog Stats

    • 233,510 hits
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 699 other followers

‘Study Away’ to bring International Universities to an Irish Audience

Posted by Francis O' Toole on October 23, 2019


'Study Away' to bring International Universities to an Irish Audience

This November will see the inaugural Study Away event. Being hosted in the Raddison Blu St. Helen’s Hotel in Dublin it is set to be Ireland’s newest International Universities Event.

The event will welcome universities from all over the world, giving Irish students to talk to representatives from the various international schools and a chance to learn more about their options away from Ireland.

The event is being organized by David Hawkins, also known as The University Guy, who is a specialist in international university applications as well as being a member of the International Association for College Admission Counseling and an affiliated consultant to the Council of International Schools.

Comparison website Unifrog are also working in conjunction with Hawkings to bring Study Away into fruition.

A list of confirmed colleges and organizations is as follows:


Eduacation USA Ireland
University of Akron   Creighton University   Loyola Marymount University 

Missouri Western State University  New York University  Sewanee, the University of the South


University of British Columbia   Concordia University


ESCP Europe         Gilon Institute of Higher Education         IE University, Spain
University College Utrecht, the Netherlands

For more information or to book your place at ‘Study Abroad’ on Friday, November 15th click here.

To see an essential guide and additional information on going to college outside of Ireland see our dedicated Studying Abroad section by clicking here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Mindfulness Meditation

Posted by Francis O' Toole on September 25, 2019


Image result for meditation pose

Mindfulness Meditation 10 Minutes



Guided Mindfulness Meditation 22 Minutes

Image result for mindfulness images

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Back To Their Roots: Teagasc Hosting Horticulture Courses

Posted by Francis O' Toole on September 18, 2019

Could a career in horticulture be the right path for you?

Back To Their Roots: Teagasc Hosting Horticulture Courses

Teagasc are hosting a number of courses through their College of Amenity Horticulture, based in the National Botanical Gardens. There are currently 5 programmes on offer between their centre at the National Botanical Gardens and the unique setting of their Ashtown campus, just north of Dublin City.

Students will spend 16 weeks of practical learning on approved horticultural units within the industry directly linked to their chosen learning stream. This will enable students to learn the management and manual skills associated with their chosen specialism.

Sixteen weeks are also spent at the College. The emphasis during this course is both on the development of business and management skills and also on developing proficiency in a range of skills associated their chosen stream of learning.

Examples of the programmes below display the extensive body of coursework available.

Horticulture Enterprise (Level 5 QQI):

The general horticulture course is designed to allow students to gain a firm foothold in the horticultural world and to allow progression in to more specialized fields at Level 6. Here, students will learn basics such as work practice, plant protection and science, soil science and growing media and how to identify plants.

Progression from Level 5 to Level 6 allows students to choose a field to sepcialize in

Landscape Enterprise (Level 6 QQI):

This comprehensive course covers key components of the landscaping process such as design and construction, park and garden supervision and production mechanisation. Through this course students will gain practical knowledge and experience through working on the landscaping elements of the Ashtown Campus.

Propagation and Tree Management (Level 6 QQI):

During this programme students will learn essential skills with regards to tree and nursery enterprise. Modules covered within this course handle subjects such as garden centre operations and nursery stock production.

Food Production (Level 6 QQI):

With a focus towards the production of fruit and vegetables, this particular course gives students a chance to get their foot on the ladder with regards to practicing the production and maintenance of these crops. Over the course of their learning, students can expect to cover features such as market gardening, organic crop production and sustainable horticulture as well as furthering their knowledge on the environment and ecology.

Sports Turf Enterprise (Level 6 QQI):

This outlet of horticulture will allow students to embark on learning about the growing industry within the realms of sports turf. The Ashtown campus contains a dedicated grass and golf area where students will be able to perfect their skills and knowledge with regards to managing sports ground.

All the above courses also provide personal development modules as well as a wide range of elective subjects which will allow students to further the horizon of their learning.

Opportunities on completion of a Level 6 course include progression to Year 2 of the Level 7 Horticulture programme being hosted by Waterford I.T. as well as prospects throughout the field of horticulture.

To apply to these courses or for more information Click Here.

The College of Amenity Horticulture, National Botanic Gardens will also be holding their open day on Thursday October 3rd from 2PM until 4.30PM.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

TY Work Experience

Posted by Francis O' Toole on September 11, 2019


Search for Placements

TY Work Experience

Every year thousands of students across Ireland undertake short work placements to get a sample of what working life is like. Equally, thousands of employers support these students in this important first step into the world of work by allowing them to experience the normal day-to-day activities of their business.

These valuable experiences have been shown to be very influential in the choices students make at the beginning of their career path. This Work experience programme links together employers, teachers, parents and students to encourage successful and rewarding work placements for all involved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Accepting Your CAO Offer

Posted by Francis O' Toole on August 15, 2019

Accepting Your CAO Offer

CAO Round 1 offers will be released at 2pm on Thursday the 15th of August, 2019. Due to changes to the Leaving Cert Appeals process, these offers are being issued just two days after the release of the Leaving Certificate results. Once students receive their offers, some will accept them straight away, while others will take a little time to consider them. Remember that you have until 5:15pm on Friday the 23rd of August to accept your Round 1 offer.

Accepting Your Offer
Offers will be issue to students through their online CAO profile. To access their offers, students will need their CAO application number and their account password. Once you have entered these details, simply follow the instructions on the CAO website, working through each page to the end of the process. You will then have an option to print a receipt. Applicants are always advised to keep a copy of their acceptance.

Note: If you are unavailable to do this for any reason, you should designate a trusted family member to respond on your behalf, to avoid losing the place you have been offered.

See the CAO’s video on the Offer and Acceptance Process

The Offer and Acceptance Process from CAO on Vimeo.

FAQs – See FAQs here

Can I accept a Round One offer while also planning an appeal of LC Exam scripts in the hope of being upgraded to a higher course choice?

Yes, a Round One offer can be accepted and later superseded by taking up a later offer arising out of a successful appeal.

What if I don’t accept any offers I received in Round One?

If an offer is not accepted by 5.15pm on Friday the 23rd of August, the CAO assumes that the applicant will not be accepting that offer and the places are passed on to the next eligible candidates during Round 2.

But I’m hoping to receive a higher offer in Round Two

Offers are made at Round Two only if there are places on a particular course that remain unfilled after Round One.

There is no guarantee that a place will become available. Applicants should therefore view their Round One offer as the only offer they will receive and make their decision on this basis.

If a place becomes available in Round Two on a course that you had listed as a higher preference, (and if you are next in line in the CAO system), you will receive another offer, regardless of whether or not you have accepted a place in Round One.

You can then choose to stay with your original offer, or accept the new offer. (There is no fee for accepting a CAO offer).

The CAO will communicate your acceptance to the college, and the college will then contact you with arrangements for starting the course.

Dates for CAO Offers:

  • Round 1 Offers – available from 2pm on the 15th of August
  • Round 2 Offers – available from 10am on the 28th of August
  • Round 3 Offers – available from 6am on the 6th of September

See all CAO Key Dates here.

See our LC Guide – Understanding CAO Offers here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

2019 Points required for Level 8, Level 7, Level 6 Courses

Posted by Francis O' Toole on August 15, 2019

CAO logo


Points required for entry into Level 8 courses.


Points required for entry into Level 7 and Level 6 courses. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Careers News

Posted by Francis O' Toole on August 15, 2019

Leaving Cert Grade Trends 2019
Click on the image above to access the CareersPortal Interactive Leaving Cert 2019 Grades Chart for all subjects.
Explore more on individual subjects and grades in our Leaving Cert Subject Choice area.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Guide to LC Subject Choices

Posted by Francis O' Toole on January 23, 2019


Selecting the right subjects for senior cycle, and the level at which to take them, is a critical task faced by 60,000 second-level students every year. Before embarking on the Leaving Cert. programme students must consider their future educational goals as decisions they make now can have consequences for future college applications.

There are good reasons why students tend to have a science subject and a third language in their arsenal and, as you will find out if you read on, there are no “soft” options on the Leaving Cert exam.

Video: Studying STEM subjects in school and college and their importance for Irish industry.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Leaving Cert Subjects 


Subject Choice

group-work.jpgTalk to older students or brothers and sisters who are studying same subject.

Try a quick glance at some of the text books.

Talk to the subject teacher.

Read school booklet on subject choice and career links.

Choose subject you like …..not the subject that your friends would like you to do.

Make sure you have the subjects necessary for course requirements in college and university.

Play it cool…….

Subject requirement for college


Third Language

Most students will study a continental language. This is a good choice as a third language is a requirement for matriculation for the vast majority of courses in the NUI colleges. If you want to keep all your options open stick with the language studies.

Science Subjects

Choosing a subject in the field of science is also a popular choice. A lot of courses require a science subject especially those in the area of medicine, engineering and science. Biology is a firm favourite but this doesn’t mean it’s the easiest. Biology is a long course that requires a lot of rote learning. Mathematically minded students might do better in Chemistry or Physics. Be aware that some medical courses require two science subjects e.g. courses in Dentistry and Medicine. And chemistry is a requirement for Pharmacy (TCD, RCSI, UCC), Veterinary Science (UCD), Dentistry (UCC) Medicine(UCC), Medical and Health Sciences (UCC), Human Nutrition and Dietetics(DIT).

Practical Subjects

Choosing a practical or creative subject can be a good option for students. The practical subjects have project work that accounts for a substantial percentage of the overall grade. This can ease the burden on students. Having a practical focus can add variety to your Leaving Cert subject combination and if you have a passion for the subject the practical element can be an outlet for stress, this can be especially true for art students, musicians or wood-turners.

Course Work and Projects

Many subjects now contain a course work or project element and unfortunately the deadlines for these projects fall very closely together. The deadline for the DCG coursework is in late February. March sees the deadline for projects in Home Economics, Engineering, Art, Technology and LCVP.  Agricultural Science coursework deadline is early April and the end of April sees the coursework deadline for the big hitters History and Geography, as well as Religious Studies, Music,  Home Economics (textile elective) and the Construction Studies project.  It is wise to consider the coursework involved in the subject combination you are thinking about before making your final decision.

Interests and Aptitude/Ability Assessments

It is a good idea to choose subjects that you are good at and that you have an interest in. Most schools will administer aptitude tests such as the DAT or CAT and offer feedback on your performance. You may show signs of having natural aptitude in one or two areas. Some areas you might show strengths in include: verbal or numerical reasoning, spatial awareness, mechanical reasoning. Strengths in these areas will point you in direction of career areas that could compliment your ability.

Interest assessments can be very enlightening for students. Through answering a series of preference questions interest assessments can reveal a lot about your work preferences. The Career Interests Profiler on CareersPortal takes about 15 minutes to complete. This instrument provides you with a free printable report containing a summary of your career interests, along with some occupations that match your interest profile. Being armed with this information helps students to pick subjects that might feed into these careers.

Complimentary Subjects

Everyone wants to reduce the workload so think about what subjects might overlap. Home Economics and Biology overlap in human anatomy sections, Home Economics also overlaps with Construction Studies and Business Studies. There is a strong correlation between Physics and Applied Maths, and Agricultural Science has some overlap with Geography and Biology. The Link Modules in the LCVP programme are deeply rooted in the Business Studies course. So if a student chooses complimentary subjects they might be able to cut down on some of the study.


Many colleges require students to hold pass grades in languages for matriculation. These include all NUI colleges, Trinity College Dublin and University of Limerick (UL). These institutions require entrants to hold a pass in English, Irish and a third European language, or English and another language. Dublin City University requires entrants to hold a pass in maths and English or Irish. Students may qualify for an exemption from these requirements if they have a learning difficulty or if they were born outside of the state.


A pass in ordinary level maths is essential for entry to the majority of courses. The number of students now choosing foundation level maths is increasing every year and there is a growing number of colleges and courses that offer places to students who secure a minimum of a grade A or B in maths at this level. Use the ‘Accepts Foundation Level Maths’ filter in our CAO CourseFinder here to search relevant courses.

A few final tips

Do your research –Talk to teachers about the subjects you are considering. Many subjects are very different from their Junior Cert equivalent so make sure the course is what you imagined it to be. Talk to students who are currently in 5th and 6th year about the subjects they are taking to get an idea of the topics covered and the workload involved. Browse through the Leaving Cert textbooks to gain a greater insight into the courses.

And lastly. . .

Be independent; well meaning parents may try to make the decision for their sons and daughters but ultimately this is your Leaving Cert and you should take responsibility for the decision. Try not to be overly influenced by your friends, choose the subjects you want to do and not the subjects all your friends are doing.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

5 Tips for 6th Years to Get Ahead over the Christmas Holidays

Posted by Francis O' Toole on December 13, 2018


How to take advantage of the holiday period and still take a break!

5 Tips for 6th Years to Get Ahead over the Christmas Holidays
5 Tips for 6th Years to Get Ahead over the Christmas Holidays

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” and Leaving Cert students across the country are looking forward to a long awaited rest; a break from school and the endless study.  Take this two week period to recharge your batteries and return fit and ready for the last five months of second level education. Here are some tips to help you to get the most from the Christmas period – I’m guessing Tip #1 will be the most popular!

#1 R&R – Rest and Relaxation

Give yourself a respite period of three to five days where you do no study; instead relax and enjoy the festive season. Socialise, catch up on your sleep, give yourself a duvet day and binge on Christmas TV, check out the sales and spend your vouchers; do whatever you find takes your mind off school and exams and ENJOY IT. These are guilt free rest days.

#2 Review Targets and Goals

Now that your Christmas exams are behind you, you can finally breathe and take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Re-examine your exam targets and goals. How are you doing? Are you meeting your subject targets? Do you need to reconsider exam levels in one or more subjects? It is a good idea to be realistic. If you are struggling in a subject, now might be the time to drop to a lower level. Consider the effort it will take in the coming months to get this subject over the line – will the effort eat into the time you could be devoting to other subjects? Be realistic and make informed and logical decisions.

#3 Research Careers

It is difficult to find the time to research careers when you are steeped in study notes, grinds and exams. Researching careers is always something that can be put on the long finger, especially if you are feeling unsure about what career you want to go into. Now that you have a bit of a break it would be a good time to browse career sectors and occupations. Finding the right career for you is a decision you don’t want to make lightly. You need to invest time exploring career sectors and occupations to get a sense of what appeals to you. But where to begin?

CareersPortal have seven broad career areas that are subdivided into career sectors. Begin broad and whittle your way down. Explore our occupations database and browse through our career interview videos to get a flavour of working in your chosen sector. Need more information? Read what our Sector Experts have to say and browse our employer insights.

#4 Get your College Application Ready

Many students postpone college applications until after Christmas. This is understandable as school commitments and exams are prioritised. Now that you are getting a break from school, the Christmas holidays is a good chance to invest time in researching courses and getting your college application underway.


CAO applications are due by 1st February. If you plan on applying for a restricted course you must enter it by this deadline. This deadline also applies to HEAR and DARE applicants. CAO do offer a Change of Mind facility that enables students to put off making a decision on courses up until 1st July but why wait so long? When will you ever find time to research courses in the next term when you have Mocks, Orals, Portfolios and Coursework due, Practical exams and of course Leaving Cert exams to prepare for. Use this two week period to get the bulk of the research done; use the Change of Mind window to tweak it.

The coursefinder on CareersPortal is great way to find all courses listed on CAO. Watch some of our course videos and find out what current students and lecturers have to say about their courses. Click here to read the CAO Guide.

Further Education / Post Leaving Cert (PLC)

PLC colleges are already accepting applications for 2019/2020. If you wish to be considered for a place in Further Education you will need to start researching now and applying. Applications for Further Education are made directly to the college. Check out the relevant college’s website to register and make an online application. Click here to use coursefinder to research PLC courses.

For more information on PLC courses click here.


If you are planning on applying to college in the UK you will need to urgently give attention to your UCAS application. The 15th January deadline is fast approaching. You will need to get a reference and write a personal statement; both of these require a good deal of time to prepare and submit. For tips and advice on writing a personal statement and asking for a reference read the two articles linked below.

How to Ask for a School Reference

Writing a Good Personal Statement

#5 Study

The words holidays and study don’t usually go together but in 6th year study unfortunately cannot be avoided – even during holiday periods. Tip #1 told you to take a break for 3-5 days. That leaves 11 – 13 days of study! It doesn’t need to take away from your Christmas break though. Just make sure to pencil in a few hours a day. If you aim to get three hours of study completed each day you will be well set up for your return to school in January. For advice on studying check out the study section in CareersPortal.

 All that is left to say is….

Merry Christmas

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

completing the CAO form

Posted by Francis O' Toole on December 13, 2018


When completing the CAO form, all applicants may apply for 10 Level 8 courses and 10 Level 7/6 courses. What’s the difference?

All qualifications are organised on the National Framework of Qualifications. This framework allows for learning achievements to be measured and related to each other in a coherent way. The higher the level of qualification, the deeper the learning.

The Leaving Cert is a Level 5 qualification. It allows students to progress to higher education courses at levels 6, 7 or 8.

The framework can be thought of as a ladder, with all qualifications placed from lowest to highest. The system allows for students to move up the ladder at their own pace. For example, a person with a strong Leaving Cert may access a Level 8 programme directly, while a person with fewer points may decide to take a Level 6 course and work their way up the ladder until they achieve a Level 8, or even a Level 9 (master’s) or Level 10 (PhD). Level 8 is also known as an honours degree.

This is what many people think of when they think of a traditional university degree. They are generally four years in duration, with some notable exceptions. Architecture, for example, is five years and many arts degrees are three years. Students mainly apply for these courses through the CAO, with some private colleges offering Level 8 courses both through the CAO system as well as direct entry.

School-leavers are required to meet the minimum entry requirements and essential subjects for these courses and then compete for a place based on CAO points. Minimum requirements for Level 8 courses are normally two H5 grades and four O6 grades (with the exception of Trinity College Dublin which requires three H5 and three O6/H7).

Level 7 degrees are known as ordinary degrees. They are generally three years in duration and students mainly apply for these courses through the CAO, while some private colleges also offer level 7 courses outside the CAO. Once again, Leaving Cert students are required to meet the minimum entry requirements, essential subjects and then compete for places on CAO points.

Many institutions require a student to achieve five O6/H7 grades for entry to Level 7, although there are some exceptions. Essential subject requirements are also lower than for Level 8 courses – for example, if a student wished to study engineering at Level 8 in DIT, he or she will require a H4 in maths while engineering courses at Level 7 in DIT require an O4/H7 in maths. Level 7 degrees are offered at universities, institutes of technology, and private colleges.

Level 6 courses are also available through the CAO. They are generally two years in duration and require five O6 grades for entry. These courses also have add-on years available which allow students to progress all the way to Level 8.

In order to identify if a Level 7 or Level 6 course offers an add-on year to achieve a Level 8, students can check their CAO handbook. The third column of the course listing pages is dedicated to this purpose. Irish Independent

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »