Today is an exciting day; the 15th January marks the deadline for UCAS applications and the start of your next step towards university life.
If you’re taking courses such as medicine, dentistry and veterinary, your application would have been sent off months ago and you’re probably already head down in revision books. However, for those not taking a course in the field of science, today is your last day to ensure you have done everything possible to bag yourself the place at university you so desperately want. So what happens now?
Once your application has been sent, you have to sit back and wait for your chosen universities to make their decision. If you apply by today, they have until May the 9th to process your application and give you an offer.
UCAS will contact you via email or post when an offer has been made. When this happens, sign into your UCAS account and click on the ‘Track’ section. Here you will find any decisions made by your chosen universities. Universities can make one of four decisions, conditional offer, unconditional offer, unsuccessful and withdrawal.
A conditional offer means there are certain grades you need to achieve in order to gain a place, they will state in the letter what grades or how many tariff points you need to gain in order to secure a place. If you receive an unconditional offer then congratulations! You’re going to university. An unconditional offer means you already have the grades required for the course, it is still wise to check your letter as some universities will ask you to send qualification certificates as proof. An unsuccessful decision means the university are unable to find you a place on the course – if you get an unsuccessful don’t fret too much about it, it may simply be a case of the course being extremely popular. Keep your chin up and wait for other results. If you’re waiting for a decision but you have decided the course you applied for isn’t for you, you are able to withdraw your application either by contacting the university or by the ‘Track’ section on UCAS.
If you’ve gained a conditional offer and receive an invitation from an institution, this generally means they are inviting you to an interview or audition. Be prepared as you may be required to provide a portfolio, essay or other piece of work during the interview, this will usually be stated in the letter, but it can’t hurt to ring the university up to check if it isn’t. By the time April comes, your friends and classmates may be bragging about their unconditional offers and talking excitedly about what university life will be like. If you find yourself at this point panicking that you haven’t heard back from a single university, remember that they have until May the 9th to give offers. Offers are processed at all different times, and by no means are university places based on a ‘first come first served’ basis. Even if you sent your application on the day before the deadline, you have as much chance as the person who sent theirs in November.
By the time May comes around you will have all your options and you can make an important life changing decision – what university you will attend for the next three years. You reply to each offer in one of the following ways: firm acceptance, insurance acceptance and decline.
The university you chose for your firm acceptance is your first choice, make sure this is the university most suited for you as you can only have one firm acceptance. If your firm choice is an unconditional offer, you are agreeing to attend that course at that particular university so you must decline all other offers. If your firm choice is a conditional offer, you must choose a second university as your insurance acceptance. This means if you do not get the grades for your first choice, you have a back up option. Once you have chosen a firm and insurance acceptance, you must decline all other offers.
The best thing about university is the flexibility of your choices. Even up until the day you receive your welcome letter, you are still able to change course or institution. This is great for those people who chose a university on a whim because they felt rushed during the UCAS process.
If you’re happy with the university you have chosen, but have found a course to suit you better than the one you originally applied for, contact the university and ask what your options are.
If you’ve decided, for whatever reason, the university you have chosen isn’t for you; you have seven days after you receive your welcome letter to change. You are not allowed to change your university after seven days of receiving your welcome letter. The only exceptions are for personal problems or a change in family circumstance, if this is the reason, you will need to ask your referee to contact UCAS and explain the situation.
Our most important piece of advice is not to panic. We know that May the 9th seems light-years away, but its important to use this time wisely to concentrate on upcoming exams and coursework deadlines. Don’t daydream in lessons thinking how you could have improved your personal statement or worrying about what offer you will get, what’s done is done (and we’re certain all your applications were brilliant.)
Remember, your personal statement let’s the university know your suitability for the course, as long as you have bags of enthusiasm, you’re going to be fine.
We understand this is a lot of information to take in, but once the process is over you get to embark on the best three years of your life. Worrying doesn’t get you anywhere, revise and work hard and we’re certain universities up and down the country will be waiting to get you into their halls. Good luck!
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