Cracking the College Code

Making the most of the first year college experience

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Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD)

AHEAD is an independent non-profit organisation working to promote full access to and participation in further and higher education for students with disabilities and to enhance their employment prospects on graduation.

Central Applications Office (CAO)

The Central Applications Office is a not-for-profit company which was founded by higher education institutions (HEIs) to process applications for entry to HEIs in the Republic of Ireland centrally and to deal with them fairly and efficiently. The HEIs retain the function of making policy decisions on admissions.

Careers Portal

CareersPortal provides a comprehensive source of careers information in Ireland. Designed for people exploring their career and educational options, it brings together a vast range of essential up-to-date information on courses, careers, job opportunities, labour market trends and careers news. It contains dedicated sections for school and college students, adults and parents.

Central Statistics Office

This Office serves the needs of the wider national and international community (media, researchers, students, businesses, representative organisations, the EU, international organisations, and the public generally) for impartial and relevant information on social and economic conditions. Particular attention is paid to the specialist needs of business and the research/academic community for more detailed and focused data.

Citizens Information

This site provides comprehensive information on public services and on the entitlements of citizens in Ireland.

Department of Education and Skills

The Department of Education and Skills has responsibility for education and training in the Irish state. The mission of the Department is to provide high-quality education, which will enable individuals to achieve their full potential and to participate fully as members of society, and contribute to Ireland's social, cultural and economic development.

Disability Access Route to Education (DARE)

DARE is a college and university admissions scheme which offers places on a reduced points basis to school leavers under 23 years old with disabilities who have completed an Irish Leaving Certificate.

Higher Education Access Route (HEAR)

HEAR is a college and university admissions scheme which offers places at reduced points to school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Higher Education Authority

The Higher Education Authority is the statutory body established to allocate public funding to Irish higher education institutions; to oversee performance of the higher education and research sector generally and to advise the Minister for Education and Skills on the development of the sector.

Institute of Guidance Counsellors

The Institute of Guidance Counsellors is the professional body representing over 1200 practitioners in second level schools, third level colleges, adult guidance services, private practice and in other settings. 
On behalf of its members and their clients the Institute has a liaison and advocacy role with government departments, management and trade union organisations, national parent bodies, higher and further education institutions, employment and training agencies.

National Centre for Guidance in Education

The National Centre for Guidance in Education is an agency of the Department of Education and Skills, with responsibility to support and develop guidance practice in all areas of education and to inform the policy of the Department in the field of guidance.

National Consumer Agency

The National Consumer Agency (NCA) has a section especially designed for students going to college. It includes information on finding somewhere to live, student banking, budgeting, paying bills and money saving tips. They also have a section for students to compare bank accounts, loans and credit cards on their financial product comparison page.

National Parents Council Post Primary

The National Parents Council Post Primary (NPCpp) is the voice and advocate for parents and guardians of young people in post-primary education and is the umbrella group for secondary parent associations within the Irish education system which includes: Co-operation of Minority Religion & Protestant Parents Association (COMPASS), The National Congress of Catholic Schools Parent Associations (CSPA), Fed. of Parent Councils in Christian Bros. & other Catholic Secondary School (FEDCBS), The Parents Association for Vocational Schools and Community Colleges (NPAVSCC) and Parents' Associations of Community & Comprehensive Schools (PACCS). 
Working with these associations and in consultation with government offices and agencies the NPCpp offers co-ordinated training, interaction, information and engagement with parents and guardians on current and emerging issues. It provides a forum that actively supports parents and guardians in their parenting role and interacts with schools and other education partners on issues that impact on the education development and general well-being of young people within the post-primary education system.


Qualifax is Ireland’s National Learners’ Database. It provides comprehensive information on further and higher education and training courses. Qualifax has developed services so that students can make informed choices about their education, training and career paths. It includes a range of useful tools such as an events calendar, interest assessment and points calculator.

Quality and Qualifications Ireland
Quality and Qualifications Ireland is an amalgamation of four bodies: the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC), the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC), the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) and the Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB). It is the agency responsible for the National Framework of Qualifications and the quality assurance of further and higher education and training (including English language provision) in Ireland.

Student Finance

This is a useful source of information on financial supports available for further and higher education. It also provides a useful links section incorporating the National Consumer Agency, already referenced in this section.  The Student Grant section provides a comprehensive source of information on the available schemes. It provides information on course fees and on eligibility requirements for free fees and other sources of assistance for students, such as the Fund for Students with Disabilities, the Back to Education Allowance and the Student Assistance Fund.


Universities & Colleges Admissions Service, UK 
This is the UK equivalent of

Contact Catherine by email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / Tel: 086 6017036

Information talks are available nationwide for parent groups in the evenings throughout the year and for Leaving Cert student groups during the school day. These talks are unique as they are delivered from the third level perspective looking at life before and and after the CAO. They challenge both students and parents to focus on making informed course and college choices, the changes that going to third level bring and how best to deal with these changes in a fast paced and demanding world. 

Indiviual consultations Catherine works with first year college students who are having difficulty settling into college life. During these consultations she shares tools and techniques to deal with the challenges faced and prepare for what lies ahead. 

She also works with college students who are having difficulty settling into college life.

Multiple copies of the book can be purchased at a discounted price  from CJ Fallon -  Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 01 6166490 and the National Parents Council Post Primary. Also available to purchase on this site and in bookshops nationwide.