Going to college 2017

DECISIONS! DECISIONS! –  Making important career decisions and  deciding which course is best for you, can be difficult. It is important to make sure you are well informed and avail of whatever support is available.


How Do I choose A Course?

Research— It is essential to thoroughly research all your course options and not be too restrictive.  A variety of supports and resource materials are available.

  • Talk to a Guidance Counsellor and get access to careers information and advice, college prospecti and applications literature etc.
  • Visit college websites, read their prospectus for details of the courses, including entry requirementsyes-no

    and course content. Ask yourself does the course suit your particular interest, abilities and career objectives?

  • Where possible attend open days.
  • Check out educational websites.
  • For courses you are interested in, you should also check if fees are payable. Not all courses are covered by the Free Fees Initiative.
  • If at this point you are still unsure of your exact career or course choices don’t worry, you can always submit an application, then if necessary use the CAO change of mind  facility to change your course choices (with some restrictions ) & order of preference up to the 1st July 2017.
  • Consider alternatives – maybe full time college is not for you. Are there other ways to the career you want

Useful Websites

www.cao.ie – The Central Applications Office processes applications for undergraduate courses in Irish Higher Education Institutes.

www.qualifax.ieinformation includes the title, code, content of each course available.

www.careersportal.iehave a new tool to assist students researching CAO courses.  The CAO Course Finder  courses using any combination of filters including; Career Interests, Career Sectors, Regions, Colleges, CAO points, availability of QQI Progression routes, no maths required etc.


College Finance

Money matters are an important factor in the whole application process.  Most undergraduate students don’t have to pay tuition fees (Free Fees Initiative) BUT there is a Student Contribution (the maximum rate for 2016/17 is €3,000).


Check out www.studentfinance.ie for more information on finance options available including the Student Grant, Fund for Students with Disabilities, Student Assistant Fund, Back to Education Allowance etc.

You can find out more about the Student Grant and make an application at www.susi.ie. Applications for 2017 open on April 3rd. Note; last year the closing date for what they called ‘priority’ applications was in early July.  The earlier thebetter for SUSI applications to ensure you are paid in time. However late applications are allowed, possibly up to the end of October. This will of course mean long delays in getting your applications processed.

www.citizensinformation.ie has additional information on fees and supports for third -level education.


Studying in Europe

Our colleagues in Crosscare have a great post on Studying in Europe which gives tips and useful websites so that you can find out more about more of the options available to you!


Our Going To College 2017 Guide

You can download our Rough Guide to applying for College 2017 HERE or by clicking on the photo below



Keeping safe online – What do young people do online? What help is there for parents?

We have been asked this week to take part in East Coast Radio’s Morning Show series of segments on Online Safety – namely ‘teenager’s use of social media and what parents can do’.  Here we hope to give some general information we will share as well as links we will mention.

There seems to be a sneaking fear that young people are using all sorts of social media platforms that adults and parents aren’t aware of, or only the barest handle on. There is a whole other world that is an adult free zone, and any adults that are there are probably up to no good.  There are probably aspects of this idea that are true, but in general it’s an exaggeration.

What are teenagers doing on line?

In the main, they are doing the obvious. They are chatting with friends. They are keeping track of the latest developments within their social grouping and other peers.  They are developing friendships and forming romantic relationships.

They are taking photos and sharing them. Some are posting videos. Mostly for specific people or friends but sometimes for more general consumption.   Much of this is everyday conversation, banal and uninteresting except for those involved.

It’s also a chance for a teenager to present the best version of them self.  For every selfie posted a lot more are taken and discarded until one is deemed good enough to share. They are a chance to get the approval of peers.

If a young person is creative, the internet offers the opportunity to share work and perhaps get noticed. If they are skilled at something or have strong opinions about social issues they can create tutorial videos about make-up or gaming or something else relevant to their followers. Or they explain to the world why a particular issue is important. They do pranks. They make silly noises. They share their worries and their hopes.  If they are lucky they can create fame and a career for themselves. If they are unlucky, notoriety can follow.


Popular apps
Speaking to the young people we mostly work with, the most popular apps are Snapchat and Instagram.

Teenagers are still using Facebook, but not in the same numbers. Twitter is not so popular with young people.

There are a number of communication apps for free texting etc such as Whatsapp or maybe Facebook messenger.  Youtube remains popular for listening to music, although many will have an app  (like Free Music) that links to online content to create free music play lists. Some will have the paid for streaming apps like Spotify.

Video sharing is popular and has been added to instagram now, but Vine is popular too.


What’s new?

Newer apps that are getting mentioned in media are Musical.ly (22 in Google Play App chart) which allows users to lipsync to songs and share the videos.  Yellow (78 in Google Play App chart) also gets a bit of a mention, but usually in a negative light as it’s been dubbed as ‘Tinder for kids’.



Young people are fairly well versed in the dangers online, but there is no place for complacency or to assume this is the case for all young people. By and large the principle issue that affects their day to day online life is cyberbullying, or temporary dramas that aren’t quite bullying but are upsetting when they happen.How they may also be exposed to inappropriate images and harmful websites. Online risks may include any or all of the following:

  • Online bullying is not just name calling or posting horrible things about a person. They include exclusion from group chats, or creating fake profiles to impersonate or to post horrible stuff about someone.
  • Grooming remains a problem as highlighted recently by the ‘Kayleigh’s story’ case in the UK.
  • Intimate or inappropriate images getting shared without consent beyond the person they were intended for
  • Clicking dodgy pages that result in computers or phones getting infected with a cyber nasty
  • Websites promoting hate speech, or harmful health choices.


Tips for parents

In an ideal world parents will know what their child is doing on line. They will be on their friends/followers list and can see everything their child posts online and it will be safe and worry free.

In the real world teens want privacy from their parents.  They will look to have their own phone or device so that they can go about their online life without adult interference. Parents may not know what apps are on their child’s phone, let alone how they are used.

If a child is young, it is not unreasonable to know exactly what’s on the phone and to have access to the phone and any passwords etc. But as a child grows older and is perhaps paying for the phone and credit themselves, they may expect more privacy. That time will obviously differ from person to person.

  • Talk to your child. Whether online or offline, having a good relationship with your child should mean you can chat about what they do online, what the risks are and how to avoid them. It also means that if something happens they are more likely to come to you and tell you about it.  The same messages you give about relationships and keeping safe offline often operate the same principles as online safety.
  • Educate yourself – what are the different apps used by young people? What do they do? What are the risks? Do you know how to work the phone?
  • Get your child to show you how apps work. Download apps on to your phone, familiarise yourself with some basics. You don’t have to be an expert or to join up properly. Explain you just want to have a look, find out about the settings then together you can delete it from your phone.
  • Use Spunout Safety Hub and Webwise to find out about the different apps. They are great Irish sites. Again if you can do it with your child, that’s a good idea.

Spunout will explain about different apps and sites, but information about using different phones. Eg location settings or blocking people. Webwise has sections for parents with advice, explainers and ‘how-tos’ for different things.

  • Teach and talk about disclosing person information, the dangers of friending strangers online. Highlight a common sense approach, for instance if someone you don’t know is eager to meet or is asking for photos, videos or money – then chances are they are up to no good.
  • Talk about looking at information critically. Don’t take everything at face value. Think before you click on links. Especially pop ups. Chat about click bait. Don’t be afraid to let them educate you on the dangers.
  • Discuss the dangers of sharing images online, including consequences for sharing images of other people
  • Talk about how to approach friends who may have posted photos that are unflattering – how to ask for them to be removed.
  • Teach respect for others generally and this should continue on line. If you wouldn’t show it to your granny, don’t post it online. Good digital citizenship is vital.
  • If as a parent you see something on your child’s phone you don’t like – DON’T FREAK OUT! Have a sensible chat about it.


There is no 100% guarantee for safety in any walk of life nowadays, but there are always commonsense steps everyone can take to keep themselves safe. Make sure your child always knows they can talk to you about what’s going on in their life. And if its all a bit scary for you as a parent, look for help. Chances are someone has gone through something similar.

Useful links



Irish Internet Hotline

Think U Know – UK based Online Safety site

HEAR & DARE schemes 2017


HEAR (Higher Education Access Route) and DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) are schemes that seek to offer University places on reduced points or extra college support for applicants that are  coming from social or economically disadvantaged backgrounds, or who are disadvantaged for reasons of a disability or learning difficulty.

We did a blog post last year outlining the different ways that you could apply and what the criteria was etc. There have been some changes this year to the DARE scheme, so we thought we would flag up the changes and remind people what the basic criteria was for each scheme. The blog post from last year can be found here (part 1) and here (part 2)



DARE is available for school leavers under 23 who have a disability, and that can demonstrate that the disability has a negative impact on their education. the DARE Team have a list of the types of disabilities or specific learning difficulties, along with what documentation or evidence that is needed to go with the application.



HEAR is available to school leavers under 23 who may come from social and economic backgrounds that has a negative impact on their education. Other than income, some backgrounds are under represented in university intake, so HEAR attempts to provide support to students in families that haven’t traditionally continued into higher education.

 Changes to the DARE scheme for 2017

  • This is the second year of changes to the scheme.  Some were introduced last year including a change to define the scheme as one aimed at students whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their education. With this came an evidence based Education Impact Statement. Verification of disabilities could be done by GPs from last year, and a prioritisation of students eligible for both DARE and HEAR.
  • After a review of the 2016 changes, some more adjustments have been made
  • If applying on the basis of a specific learning difficulty, psychological assessment reports can not be of any age, however, attainment scores (whether from school or psychologist) must be from after 1 Feb 2015.
  • Development Coordination Disorders are no longer required to submit a full pyscho-educational report from the previous 3 years – they can by of any ange.
  • GPs can now complete the confirmation of diagnosis.
  • Instead of a statement there is now an ‘Educational Impact Statement checklist’ that is done by the person applying alongside their teacher
  • The school section of the Education Impact Statement has been reduced, which the Scheme says will make it easier for schools to complete and for parents and applicants to understand.
  • Applicants don’t need to include previous schools if they have changed secondary school (unless their current school is unable to capture the impact of the disability).
  • There is a more comprehensive teachers manual.

To get precise and exact information and explanation of the changes you can download or read a document called ‘Important Changes to DARE 2017 by clicking HERE

Further reading
The DARE Handbook 2017

The DARE Information leaflet 2017

The HEAR information Leaflet 2017

The HEAR Handbook 2017

Leaving Cert Results – What Next?

Ok, so you’ve got  your results, and the initial shock, happiness, despair or whole range of emotions have settled. What happens next? What are your options? Our free resource is available for you to download and share outlining important dates and some of your options for your next steps.

Download our Leaving Cert Results – Whats Next? publication



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If you haven’t already applied for a student grant, it’s not too late. The deadline for priority applications was in July, but applications can still be accepted, although they will not be processed until those received in July are sorted.

You can apply through SUSI, and you can get more information through our publication, The Rough Guide to Student Grant 2016.


Part-time work as a young person – Your rights

It’s difficult in the early years of your working life to know ‘what’s normal’ when it comes to the working day. Or, if on a job application form you get asked, ‘how much you’d expect to be paid?’ how much is enough?.  This post aims to give a little bit of help for young workers.

There are certain things that should be in place no matter what – legal requirements that every employer is supposed to meet. We have a couple of documents you can download giving you the basics. There is one with rights for workers under 18 and one for those over 18.  Feel free to download and share as much as you like.

It gives an idea about what hours you can work at ages 14 – 18, your breaks, days off etc, as well as pay rates.

rest days

There are different minimum wage rates for under 18’s, or if you are 18 but in your first or second year of employment.

minimum wage

Download Part time Work Rights for Under 18s

Part time work under 18's


Download Part Time Worker Rights for Over 18s


Why you should join your local library

A library is like having the internet in a building. If you can imagine it, chances are someone has written about it. And in the same way that clicking a link brings something new, each shelf or room in a library offers more and more new discoveries for the curious mind.

If you think a library is a dusty old building full of old people telling you to shush, where all you can do is get a book…then think again.


I was going to a flowery, romantic piece about how brilliant libraries are, how they open portals to other worlds found only in books, are a playground for the imagination, and can take you to places you might never visit. But, while all of that might be true, the reality is the Library Service speaks for itself on a much more practical level.


Yep – That’s MY library card 🙂

What my library card does

A good library service really is one of the best things our County Council provides for us.

Think about it for a minute.


That’s just the stuff you take away from the library!

Stay in the library and –

  • You get free wi-fi,  and use of computers
  • There is study space if you are a student – quiet space for homework
  • You can sign up for, and take, e-learning classes (Not available in all of Wicklow’s libraries)
  • You can sit and read a magazine or newspaper freely available for all
  • There are places to find out about your local, and sometimes, family history
  • All libraries tend to have story time events for little ones, so a great place for both parents and children to meet with friends
  • There are book clubs for adult, teens and junior readers
  • There are different holiday activities including arts & crafts or different workshops (check your local library for dates of different events)
  • Blessington Library for example, hosts a lego club, autism support and citizens advice among its services.
  • It is also a great place to find out about local services on the various posters and flyers on the notice boards
  • You get REALLY friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff


And you know the jokes about FINES?  If you are late, they only charge 5 cent per day. So if you were a week late it would be 7days x5cent =35cent.  That is a fair deal by any standard.



Image Source: Otis College of Art & Design Library – Found at mrlibrarydude.wordpress.com


Where can I join?

We are well served for libraries in Wicklow.  There are ten around the county, and if you can’t get out to a library, or there is none near you, Wicklow has a mobile unit that travels to different locations right around the county.


A tiny bit of history

I got my love of reading from my dad. I fed that love through the library in Enniskerry.  Another reason I’m fond of that library in Enniskerry is because it’s a Carnegie library. One of three in Wicklow (Bray and Greystones are the other two).  I love that fact, because Carnegie libraries are names after Andrew Carnegie from Scotland who made his fortune in America, and one of the ways he shared his wealth was by building almost 3000 public libraries around the world.


A short flowery bit

If I was king of the world, I’d give everyone a library card. Of course, it would be a little unnecessary because, everyone can already get a library card for free, or at least they can in Co Wicklow.

Libraries are for everyone. They don’t discriminate.  Whether you are a millionaire who could buy their own library, or a poor family that can’t afford to buy a single book, your library card entitles you to the same service, the same welcome and the same experience.

Books broaden our horizons. They are the gateways to possibility and potential. So libraries are like a great bunch of keys to a humongous number of gateways…yeah, too much!!


Join your local library. You’ll never regret it.


Bray Battle of the Bands with new extended deadline

Please note – the deadline to enter the Bray Battle of the Bands been extended for a short time. If you’re not sure if you are in time contact clay on 01 2050502

We love finding a new music here at YouthSpin. We were at the Groove Festival last week and were particularly impressed with Jupe and The Academic, both new bands to us.

So we’re very excited about the Bray Battle of the Bands that’s happening through August and September and can’t wait to see what new talent rises to the top.

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The competition is open to individual acts or bands between the ages of 16-24years. There will be a number of heats hosted by various youth groups and centres in the Bray area with the Grand Finale taking place in the Mermaid Arts Centre on Saturday September 10th 2016.

The winners will then go on to perform two more gigs – One as part of Culture Night on Friday September 16th and the other as part of Bray Alcohol Awareness Campaign Showcase on Thursday 1 December in the Mermaid Arts Centre.

There will of course be other prizes for the winners and runners up.


Deadline for entries is July 27th 2016 





You can download the Entry form and the Rules of the competition at the bottom of this post. You can also download the poster advertising the competition.

An added bonus, if musicians are looking for rehearsal space, we may be able to help by making the Seomra Youth Centre available during the evenings to anyone entering the BrayBotB Competition.

Its all being organised as a joint project between Bray Drug Awareness Forum, Bray Local Drug and Alcohol Task Force and Crosscare Youth Service. If you want to find out  more about the event you can email braydrugsawarenessforum@gmail.com or phone 01 2050502  You can get updates on Twitter using the hashtag #BrayBotB and follow them @Bray_BotB



Download BOTB Entry Form as PDF


BOTB Rules-page-001

Download BOTB Rules as PDF


BotB Poster-page-001

BrayBotB Entry Form


Download BotB Poster as PDF