Applying to College

Find out more about applying to College generally, and about our admission process. Depending on the course your application will need to be made through the CAO

This video presentation describes how the CAO application, offer and acceptance processes work.


You should also think about applying to the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) Scheme, which requires you to declare your autism on your CAO form, this will not impact on the college’s decision to offer/not offer a place but it will enable you to compete for a palce on the course of your choice on reduced CAO points. AHEAD has Information on telling the CAO about your autsim through the Supplementary Admissions Form (SIF)

As well as the DARE entry route, you may qualify for entry to college under other routes.

These routes include:


The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) is a college and university scheme that offers places on reduced points and extra college support to school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds who are resident in the Republic of Ireland.

Applicants with a diagnosis of autism (and DARE eligible) and who also meet the criteria for the HEAR scheme are prioritised for reduced points places , click here for more information.

Mature Students

In TUS Athlone, a mature student is someone who is aged 23 years or above on 01 January in the year of entry; who wishes to pursue a full-time undergraduate degree programme.

Find out more about applying to college as a mature student here.


Places are offered on certain courses to students presenting Level 5 or Level 6 FETAC qualifications. Click here for more information.

How could this affect me?

Knowing more about the application and admissions process will enable you to prepare, and think about whether you require any support or adjustments through this process e.g. extra time for interviews.


You can also check out TUS Athlone CAO Hub







Listen to TUS Athlone 360 Podcast on Admissions and the CAO Process.


Listen to TUS Athlone 360 Podcast on registering with Disability Support Service, supports provided and DARE.


If you have any concerns about the admissions process and would like to talk about your options for support, you can contact the Disability Support Service team.


What to do next?

Become familiar with the admissions process and consider telling the College about your autism

Practical tips

  • Check if you need to apply through CAO (in most cases you will).
  • Find out if you qualify for the DARE or HEAR schemes (or both) and what evidence you need to support your application.
  • Check when you should apply. Make a note of important deadline dates.
  • Once you receive an offer think about what type of supports you feel may be useful in college in preparation for your Needs Assessment (if you want to avail of reasonable accommodations).
  • Check if you need an Irish/language exemption if you did not study Irish for your Leaving Certificate.

Tips for writing a personal statement

For postgraduate programmes and Mature student applications, many colleges will ask you to submit a personal statement as part of your application.  This statement is your opportunity to explain why you believe you are a strong candidate for a particular course of study.  Write your statement in rough to start with, and get someone to check it over before you submit it; remember that first impressions count!


Research the course that you are applying for thoroughly, and identify the skills and interests that you will need to study it.  Your statement should highlight:

  • What interests you about the subject
  • Why you have chosen this course in particular
  • What skills you bring to the course
  • Your relevant experience
  • Your ambitions and how you see this course fulfilling those ambitions.


  • Keep your statement concise, preferably one side of A4 (around 500-600 words).
  • Make sure that your sentences and paragraphs are structured correctly.
  • Do not use slang or abbreviations.
  • Each point you discuss should flow on to the next point.
  • Try to avoid starting every sentence with ‘I’.

Questions to think about

  • What is the application process for your chosen course?
  • What do you need to submit to support your application?
  • Do you need to write a personal statement?
  • Do you need to provide evidence in the form of a portfolio of work?
  • When are the deadlines for applications?
  • When should you expect to hear if your application has been successful?
  • Who do you need to contact at your chosen college to discuss disability support?

Additional information and links

You can find out more about the admissions procedures at TUS Athlone here. You can declare your autism on your application form or contact the Disability Support Team.