I didn’t sleep well last night. I tossed and turned and looked at the clock repeatedly waiting for 6am to arrive. Time crawled… 1.15am… 3.45am…5.20am… until finally, 7.15am… “aagh! Quick! Turn on the computer”. For anyone hoping to go to college, today marks the day when future careers are decided through the courses offered by the Central Applications Office (CAO). It’s sure been a testing process.

Anyone would think I’d just done the Leaving Cert by the excitement generated but in fact it’s my daughter, Poppy who’s put in all the hard work. Last week, she made her Mum and Dad really proud by receiving excellent exam results. However, despite gaining enough points for a multitude of college places, it was still not certain she’d be allocated the place in college that she really wanted. For those who don’t know how the Irish system works, the points for college courses are dictated by the demand for places. It’s a lottery based on the number of places available for each course and on how many people apply in any given year. Students select their courses in order of preference, not according to the points required and the CAO does the rest.

Unfortunately for Poppy, she experienced a very unsettling hiccup with her college application. She’d carefully selected her courses and submitted her online application but when the postal confirmation arrived, it was incorrect. The courses she’d chosen were all visible but the order of preference was completely wrong. Poppy was away on holiday after her exams when I spotted this error and so armed with her exam number, email address, password etc., I rang CAO on her behalf to get her choice of courses corrected. Blow me, if this didn’t happen a second time, on the very day that applications closed. I was now in no doubt that someone was making malicious changes to Poppy’s CAO application and insisted that CAO carry out a thorough investigation. A few days later they came back to me with an IP address which had been identified as different to the ones we’d used whenever we’d contacted CAO online. Following some clever detective work, we were able to exactly match this IP address to someone known to Poppy who for some unknown reason, had decided to interfere with her career choices. This guy had her email address and had somehow got her email password. He was watching her emails and this is how he gained access to her CAO application. He then used the ‘forget your password’ facility at CAO to change her password and proceeded to change her courses around not once, but twice! He also covered his tracks by deleting the confirmation emails which were automatically generated. All highly illegal actions and all potentially damaging to Poppy’s future. Thankfully, we caught him out at his game and once challenged, he fully admitted to the crime. He has apologised profusely for the hurt he’s caused. He was an ex-boyfriend of Poppy’s, he’s now an ex-friend as well.

The first round offers from the CAO became available online from 6am this morning. Poppy was awarded the exact course she’d set her heart on. Had her abuser got his wishes, she would have been allocated a different course. She really deserves this outcome after studying so hard and I’m really proud of her for the way she’s coped with the CAO debacle. So today is a double cause for celebration.

Sod the computer, I’m off to celebrate.

18 Responses to Phew!

  1. Grannymar says:

    Congratulations Poppy and to a proud mum and dad on the happy outcome.
    It is very well deserved. Enjoy the celebrations and I will raise a glass to you all tonight!

  2. Madsadgirl says:

    I am so glad Poppy got what she wanted even after a desperate attempt by someone to mess up her application. I’m not surprised that he is now an ex-friend. What is Poppy going to study?

  3. Bendy Girl says:

    What a horrible experience for you and Poppy, but I’m so pleased all has worked out well in the end. Congratulations Poppy!

  4. Baino says:

    Ah I remember the anguish. Here each student receives a Universiti Accepptance Index, a score out of 100. The higher you score, the more likely you are to get into your course of choice (given availability of course) I remember going online before Clare to check out here ‘offers’. (Naughty I know but I’d been through the HSC as well!). I’m glad all worked out in the wash and she’s got her course of choice. I guess now the fun begins . . adapting to a life where nobody admonishes you for not completing the work! Good luck to Poppy and enjoy the celebration! As for the asshole who tried to sabotage her efforts, good riddance, lets hope he’s long gone and out of her life!

  5. Steph says:

    Grannymar – thanks! The Leaving Cert process is a long haul for both the student and their parents but today’s outcome has made it all seem really worthwhile. With Poppy being our youngest, we can finally wave goodbye to school days – yippee!

    Madsadgirl – hello again. It was a particularly unsettling episode and one that we could’ve done without while waiting for the exam results. Poppy was in full agreement that I should write this post about her experience but I’d rather not discuss her personal situation any further here.

    Bendy – hi there! It was really very unnerving. At first, I hoped that it was some unknown nerd getting a kick out of messing with people’s lives but then when it became obvious who the person was, I felt really sick knowing that this had been done intentionally by someone we know. He’s broken Poppy’s trust so now he’ll have to live with the consequences.

  6. Steph says:

    Baino – Hi! You sneaked in there while I wasn’t looking. Yes, you’re right, I couldn’t wait to see the outcome but Poppy had okayed me checking online for her. She’s been floored by a nasty cough and cold since returning last week from camping in the rain (for 12 days!). It was lovely to be able to bring her such good news as she woke. Having said that, she still managed to go out to the pub to eat with friends earlier tonight and judging by the laughter coming from the other room now, I think she’s feeling better. While she worked hard all year, she didn’t let it interfere with her social life and I reckon college life will suit her to a tee.

    As regards the asshole, we live in a small community – he’s dug his own grave!

  7. Lottie says:

    My sister went through the same thing and Im not even sure if she has managed to sort it out yet. How many points do you need to get a job working for the CAO board?

    Well done to Poppy!

  8. Steph says:

    Hi! Lottie

    Are you telling me that your sister’s CAO was also interfered with ‘cos if you are, I’m gobsmacked? CAO led me to believe that what happened to Poppy was very unusual.

    Or perhaps you meant that your sister has also been through the long haul of the Leaving Cert?

    Whatever, one thing is certain – Poppy’s experience is a warning to us all to remember that passwords are not foolproof and basically anything you do online is open to abuse.

  9. Laura says:

    Go Poppy enjoy it. Well done Mum and Dad

  10. I’m so glad the outcome was a proud and happy one – congrats to Mum, Dad and Poppy. As for that ex, he deserves to have his shins well and truly kicked. What a total swine!

  11. Lottie says:

    Steph – Jo did her leaving a few eyars back and was going back to college through the CAO this year. They messed her around so much messing up applications, loosing documents and so on. The colleges didn’t help matters either so it’s not all the CAO’s fault.

  12. Steph says:

    Thanks! Laura and AV

    It feels really good to have the whole saga behind us and especially now that there’s a happy ending.

    Lottie – the very best of luck to your sister, Jo. I’ve been back to college twice in recent years as a (very) mature student and I too struggled with the CAO. I have to say though that the guy who dealt with Poppy’s situation, was pretty helpful.

  13. Geri Atric says:

    Congratulations and the best of luck to your Poppy and my admiration to you too Steph for the way you tracked down that rotter and sorted him out!

  14. Steph says:

    Thanks! Geri

    When something gets my goat, I don’t give up till it’s sorted. I had to call in some expertise to trap the offender and it worked a treat! In my book, right should always triumph over wrong.

  15. Will Knott says:

    Congratulations to her. Just making sure, she isn’t going to be sharing the course with the should-be-kneecapped ex-friend?

  16. Steph says:

    Cheers! Will

    You raise a good point. Yer man is already in college and from the way he altered the order of courses, it looked like he was trying to ensure that Poppy would end up at the same college as him. Had he succeeded in his mission, she would have missed out on the course she has been allocated which thankfully, is in another college. Double Phew!

  17. Suzy says:

    Steph, well done to Poppy and to yourself for your diligence. I hope his card was more than marked and that some official report was made to Gardai etc. That forgot password thing really has to be looked into from the security bods in organisations – it’s how people with agendas hack into Gmail accounts etc. (Been there, worn the t-shirt )

  18. Steph says:

    Hi Suzy and welcome!

    I agree, the forgotten password facility is a liability once someone has access to your email account. You cannot be too careful with online security.

    This whole unpleasant episode could have been handled in several different ways with vastly differing outcomes. The way we chose to expose this guy’s wrongdoing was, we believe the best way to resolve it for all concerned. We sincerely hope that our action will have been enough to stop this guy re-offending in the future but who knows? Only time will tell on that one.

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