As I write this, my university application has been sent off to UCAS, and I have already received one offer and I am waiting for a decision from the other four, I could actually be waiting until May! Today (when writing) is also the application deadline, so this post is probably a bit late for those applying in this cycle, but I hope it will be useful for anyone considering university in the future.
- Start early! I know for a lot of people (including me!) knowing that there is a deadline, will not start until as close to the deadline as possible. I ‘started’ my application in October, but it wasn’t completely ready to be sent off until January, which is fine. However getting it sent off sooner takes a whole lot of weight off your shoulders and allows you to focus on your studies and achieving your required grades.
- 3 types of Universities: With UCAS, you can choose up to five different Universities. The advice of my Sixth Form, and what I would recommend is to within your five choices have one that is aspirational, one that is realistic, and one that is safe. Also, don’t forget that you can apply for more than one course at a University, so if a University offers two similar courses, and you are interested in both of them, you can apply for both.
- Getting your reference: I would advise that as soon as you know what courses you are applying to (even if you just know the subject, but not the University) let the person who is going to write your reference know. This will probably be a subject teacher, your form tutor, or your head of Sixth Form/ College. This should give them plenty of time to talk to your other teachers to find out how you are doing, and draft a reference. It will also make the process of applying quicker as you won’t be chasing them (alongside everyone else) for it days before the deadline.
- Contact the Universities! You need to know where you could potentially be spending the next three years of your life. Ideally, attend open days, these will give you first hand experience of the university and the courses it offers. Don’t be afraid to email the universities to ask for more information. A few of my friends had concerns over whether their chosen universities would accept their combination of A Levels with BTECs, all of these concerns were solved with a quick email. At the end of the day, they want people to attend their university, therefore, not replying/giving feedback to potential students will only reflect badly on them!
- Playing the waiting game: Since completing and sending off my application, I’ve been checking my emails and logging into Track at least once an hour. Obviously, you’re going to feel anxious and in an ideal world your chosen universities would reply almost instantly. My advice here would be to try to stay relaxed and focus on studying to get good grades. Constantly refreshing Track will get you nowhere, as UCAS automatically emails you when it has updated (this includes university decisions, invitations to inteview etc.)
There are a few sites that are useful in making decisions regarding your application, I have found these 3 particularly helpful:
I hope this has been useful to anyone who is considering university as an option. If you have applied for University this year let me know some of your tips and where you applied to!