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The countdown to the CAO deadline…

January 13, 2010 2 comments

I just finished filling out my CAO form the other day and I’d forgotten how complicated it was.  The CAO or the Central Applications Office handles and distributes college places in Ireland. Places are award using a points system based on the Leaving Cert examination result. It wasn’t my first time filling out the form because I’d been in college the year before but the course didn’t suit me. Even after having going through it before it took me nearly an hour to fill it out. On my first attempt the website timed out on me, then on my second attempt it was like some challenge from the ‘Krypton Factor’. Then when you consult the CAO hand book for help it makes as much sense as a Klingon version of Ulysses.

As I was a college student last year, this caused some complications for me whilst filling out the form. I had to inform them that I had previous attended an institute of higher education, which I did and that I had to provide them with a letter from the college which I was going to go about doing the next day. Then to my surprise I received the normal confirmation email and another email saying I had to provide the letter with in seven days of the email. It gave no reason for the seven-day deadline, I can understand it would be necessary to have it in by the closing date which was twenty days away, but seven days? Maybe if the letter doesn’t arrive my application spontaneously combusts or something.

I decided to read up more to see what would happen if I didn’t have it in on time. It didn’t really give any explication at all, just stating that “Failure to comply with these instructions may result in an extra fee and the consequent delay may seriously hinder the processing of your application.“. Okay fair enough but what’s all this about extra fees? The CAO is obsessed with extra fees. If you apply online by the 20th January it cost €35 but if you apply from the 21st January until the official closing date on 1st February for some mad reason it costs €10 more.

Although when you log on to the front page of the CAO (http://www.cao.ie) it says that “CAO is a not-for-profit company registered in Ireland.” So where does the extra €10 fee go? On administration? Biscuits maybe?

It’s not just the late application fee, if you make any mistakes on the form or fail to supply the supporting documents (like I have to) you have reapply and pay the fee again. That’s another €35 (that’s 566 in Jaffa cakes) going to the non profit company.

Then it gets down to nitty-gritty, picking the ten courses you want to be doing for the next three or four years. Do you go for what your interested or do you follow economic trends? For instance last year the points dropped for courses such as architecture and engineering which reflected the reduction in construction brought about by the economic down turn and points for science courses rose as that industry still remains strong. Points are likely to follow the same trend this year.

Is it wise purely basing you course choice on the current economic climate? Three or four years is a long time, for both the economy to change and also to be studying a subject in-depth. Last year I was reading Natural Sciences which had favourable career prospects. Although there were some aspects of the I liked, overall I hated it. The thought of spending another minute in a lab dissecting some poor animal or pipetting dangerous chemicals fills me dread. This year I decided to choose a course that suited my interests, I’d rather study something because I love it rather than something I find tedious just because it’s a stable sector of the economy.

It’s kind of nice to fill out the form with out the pressure of exams hanging over my head and being able to know in advance how many points I have. I feel sorry for the students sitting the exams this year as they is even more pressure on them as more people apply for third level courses forcing the points to rise.

So if you are filling out your CAO get on early to avoid giving the CAO extra money for Jaffa Cakes!

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The Great Snow of 2010…

January 10, 2010 3 comments

As we move in the second week of freezing conditions in Ireland with grit running critically low and infrastructure coming to a stand still it’s obvious that this period will stick in the memory for a long time to come.

I, at 20, have never seen weather like this. I wasn’t around in to witness the big snow in Dublin in 1982 (really cool, forgive the pun video here) but even for those who were the conditions then didn’t even come close to what we’re dealing with at the moment.

The first lot of the ‘white shite’ as we are now calling it in our house fell on New Years Eve, shortly before 12 o’clock and is was truly magical, but now 11 days on, well for me it’s still magical (the child in me can’t help but prance around the garden crunching the snow) but it’s not practical. In my estate, where the roads are too minor to be gritted, it’s getting almost impossible to get to the main road.

Even some of the main roads this morning weren’t gritted and with the grit running out they’re not likely to be by Monday morning. Many people are torn between heading out on the treacherous roads to get to work or staying at home, and it’s hitting people especially hard due to the current economic situation.

The cold snap has been markedly damaging for businesses in Ireland. Sales were already struggling before the deterioration in conditions and with many people unable to travel to town and to shopping centres they’re set to feel the pinch and therefore having a knock on effect on the already woeful economy. Many companies are straining to cope as they are forced to close as employees can’t make it into work. The icy city streets are deserted when they should be bustling, full of shoppers looking for bargains, pubs and clubs are empty as people can’t get in or out of the city.

Resources such as water and food are being tested but are just about coping with the increased demand. On Friday water levels dropped severely low in certain areas in Dublin where it was believed people were running taps to avoid them freezing. Just this morning towns in North County Dublin lost their water supplies due to problems with frozen pipes. Also with the problems with transportation around the country comes the fear of a food shortage. At the moment there is no problem but unnecessary panic buying could cause problems in the coming days (here’s hoping the milk and tea doesn’t run out, there would be a national crisis).

I feel particularly for the elderly at the moment. I’m ok if I’m stuck for food as at least I can go on foot, but many elderly have been left stranded in their homes for nearly a fortnight. With temperatures dropping as low as -12oC they are particularly vulnerable.

Many people having been critical about the government’s lack of provisions in place for such conditions, but who really could have planned for this?

Last week saw cancellation of bus services, treacherous driving conditions and unbelievable traffic jams. All primary and secondary schools are closed until Thursday and many universities have postponed exam sessions (to the dismay of students, alright they have another week to study but they can’t get out or into town to go drinking). With even more snow predicted tomorrow and the middle of next week it looks like Ireland’s set for another week of chaos.

As the temperature stay well below zero and the snow keeps coming, I cannot help but think will it ever stop?!

Me crunching in the snow!!

Snow and Geese!!

Happy Christmas!!!

December 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Happy Christmas (or holidays or whatever you’re into)

Have a good one!!

And some cake, enjoy it here!!!

Ireland remain unbeaten for 2009!!! Ireland 15 – 10 South Africa!!

November 28, 2009 Leave a comment

After an amazing season Ireland end 2009 unbeaten!!

Finishing 15 – 10 after an amazing tackle from O’Driscoll brought the game to a close.

Roll on the 6 Nations!! This day 10 weeks our first match will kick off in Croke Park at 14:30!!

Congratulations to Declan Kidney for receiving the IRB Coach of the Year!!

Thanks to lads for a brilliant and entertaining year of top class rugby!!

Guinness Area 22: Ireland vs. Fiji Prematch

November 23, 2009 Leave a comment