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With CAO Results out today, soon comes the panic that comes with looking for student accommodation – let's be real, it's a hellish situation. CAO offers are made on 20th August leading to a scramble (to put it mildly!) for any living arrangements that might be half-decent – given that securing accommodation in Dublin at the moment is akin to the search for the Holy Grail. Rents are high and choices are few, so it's a source of worry for many. 

Finding the right place presents many hurdles and problems for students and their families. With this in mind, and should you be lucky to nab a place before college starts up, leading student accommodation provider Hazelwood Student Village shares their top do’s and don’ts when searching for student accommodation so that even the little things aren't forgotten before you sign any dotted lines.

Do: Start your search now – Location, Location, Location

If you have filled out your CAO form you know the location of the universities and colleges you have applied to. Start your search now. Before you receive your CAO offer know the area you’d like to live in. Create a shortlist. You would be best placed to start your search now and familiarise yourself with what is to offer. It’s important to think about the convenience of your accommodation; would you be near to the university facilities, local shops, nightlife? identify areas with good transport links so that you can widen your search. Prioritise areas where you will feel safe, check that it is close to amenities and shops. With these areas mapped out, you will be a step ahead when you receive your CAO offer.

 

Do: Work out your priorities and your non-negotiables – Safe and Sound

Think about your preferred accommodation. To share or not to share? What are your priorities? Security, Ease of Access to college, Strong reliable internet connection, bedroom size, Public transport directly into the City Centre or to your college? What can’t you live without? Once you have identified what your top priorities are, this will help narrow down your search. Safety and security should be top of the agenda when you move into a new property. Some purpose-built student accommodation has security gates, manned security personnel. Make sure these are on your list.

Do: Ask for advice

If you have any friends or family living in Dublin ask them what they know – you never know what tips they might come out with. If you know students the year ahead of you who have been through this exercise ask their advice.

Don’t: Panic and take the first accommodation you view

Once you have started searching for accommodation in or near Dublin, don’t make the rookie error of placing a deposit with the first place you view. Make sure to shop around.

Don’t: Be scammed

There are online scams and frauds. Meet the landlord or agency. If you pay in cash, get a receipt. Only sign a contract for the period you intend to stay in the accommodation, remember if you do not require the accommodation for the summer agree that you re renting for the college terms only. Take photographs of the accommodation before you move in. Note any damage, any paintwork chipped or peeling so that it doesn’t get taken out of your deposit as a penalty.

Don’t: Sign a contract without going over the small details

Different accommodation offers different packages – make sure you know exactly what is being offered to you. Are there any hidden extras, such as WIFI and Utility bills? Add these into your budget to make sure you are being as realistic as possible with what you can afford. Make sure to check the start date and end date on any contract.

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Whether you've always wanted to pursue your dream career or just want to add an educational edge to your repertoire of skills – going to college is never a bad idea. 

Fancy spicing up your life with some further education? 

Then you better act fast. 

Tomorrow is the closing date for CAO applications, so if you're planning on throwing your hat into the ring, now would be the time. 

This date is the cut off point for entry to all first-year undergraduate courses. 

If you list your chosen courses and then change your mind, don't despair. 

If you need more time to mull the decision over, applicants can modify their course selection up until July 1, though for some programmes that is not allowed.

Dr Derek O'Byrne from Waterford Institute of Technology shared some sage advice with BreakingNews.ie for all those applying with the CAO.

'It’s a difficult process, there are a lot of choices available to people,' he noted.

'What’s really important though is that they pick programmes that very much suit their skill-sets and their interests.'

'If people pick a programme that they’re interested in, and that they enjoy, they’re much more likely to do well in that programme,' he said.

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If you're getting ready to head off to university, don't forget that 5:15pm this evening is the deadline for the lowered CAO application fee of €30.

Those who apply afterward will pay a fee of €45. The normal closing date for applicants is February 1.

The CAO allows applicants to add more courses, change the order of their preferences, or remove courses for no extra charge until January 31.

If you need more time to mull the decision over, applicants can modify their course selection up until July 1, though for some programmes that is not allowed.

Those 'restricted application' courses may involve interviews or portfolios, and any such courses must be listed on CAO applications by February 1.

As well, anyone applying to medical school will also need to register with HPAT (health professionals' admission test) Ireland by 5:15pm tonight in order to pay the early-bird €135 fee rather than the standard €205.

Dr Derek O'Byrne from Waterford Institute of Technology shared some sage advice with BreakingNews.ie for all those applying with the CAO.

"It’s a difficult process, there are a lot of choices available to people," he noted.

"What’s really important though is that they pick programmes that very much suit their skill-sets and their interests."

"If people pick a programme that they’re interested in, and that they enjoy, they’re much more likely to do well in that programme," he continued.

"Doing research, understanding what the content of a programme is, going to the likes of open days – that’s where you really build an understanding of the programme you’re about to study."

A list of other important dates for the CAO can be found here.

And best of luck!

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A total of 52,374 third-level applicants will be offered at least one college course this morning, the Central Applications Office has confirmed.

Points for more than half of all honours degree courses are down from last year's figures, while close to 10 per cent saw no change at all.

Just over 300 level eight courses saw points rise, however, these increases were limited to 15 points or less in most cases.

While the volume of applications has remained relatively unchanged, almost 1,700 additional level eight course were offered to applicants by 35 colleges this year.

Teaching degrees saw the biggest decrease, while many nursing courses also had significantly lower entry requirements, though applicants fell by 5 per cent in this case.

Some areas of study with traditionally high points, such as medicine and dentistry, have risen slightly.

Arts remains the most popular choice for applicants, with slight in creases and decreases seen across individual colleges.

Applicants have until next Monday, August 28, to accept their first round offer.

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The new points scale for Leaving Cert students, which will directly affect any incoming fifth year students.

This is the first significant change to the state examinations in almost twenty years. Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan outlined the plans to change the grading of the Leaving Cert today.

Speaking about the changes she said:

“The new scale has been designed to minimise random selection for third level entry, which can be a source of huge frustration for students and their families.

It will also reward students who aim higher, both where they take the risk of sitting a higher level paper and for succeeding in those papers to a high standard.”

The changes will include a reduction in the number of possible grades to be awarded to students from 14 to 8.

Instead of the current A1 to NG scale, from 2017 onwards, students will be eligible to receive a grade of H1 to H7 for Higher level papers with Ordinary level papers going from O1 to O7.

Students who take on Higher levels subjects and earn more than 30 to 39 per cent in the exam. At the moment those percentages qualify as a failing grade, but the new changes will mean students could still earn CAO points with such a grade.  

Those who choose to take on Higher level Maths papers will also be able to earn extra points.

The new system will come into effect from the state exams due to take place in 2017. The new grading scale is hoped to help in alleviating some of the pressure many students face in their final years of secondary school.

 

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