It’s that time of year again when sixth-formers up and down the country are thinking about their future and starting their university application process. It is without a doubt a big step for a lot of teenagers as they make decisions that will shape their futures in multiple ways.
In the UK, all applications for full-time university degree courses must be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Services, but you might be more familiar with its commonly used acronym – UCAS.
Applications open in September for the follow academic years entry. So, to apply for a course starting in September 2018, you need to be applying in the next few months.
To start off the process, your child must create an account on the UCAS website which consists of 5 main areas:
- Personal Details
- Indicated courses they wish to apply for
- Full details of the qualifications, including previous and ones currently being studied for
- A personal statement of up to 4000 characters
- An academic reference from a teacher, tutor or professional contact – if your child is applying through their school, their teacher or tutor will be able to provide this.
Hopefully your child will already have an idea of what they want to apply for and where, and will have attended a few open days during Year 12.
The personal statement requires careful work and is a vital part of the whole application. Ultimately, it’s your child’s chance to convey their ambitions, experience and skills. The same personal statement is used for all of their applications, so if your child is choosing a variety of courses, it’s worth ensuring it contains common themes and experience that can relate to all of them. Remind them to include reasons why they’re applying, such as what interests them, their ambitions and what makes them a suitable candidate.
Don’t forget to proof read and edit the personal statement – it usually takes several drafts to get them right. For tips on how to write a personal statement, visit the UCAS page: https://www.ucas.com/ucas/undergraduate/getting-started/when-apply/how-write-ucas-undergraduate-personal-statement
There are several deadlines for application submissions, which are listed on the individual courses description on the UCAS website, so make sure these are checked to avoid last minute panics or disappointment.
The final deadline for all submissions is 15th January 2018; this sounds a long way off but it will be here before you know it. It’s best to get the applications in as early as possible.
If you’re applying to Oxford or Cambridge (Oxbridge) or to read a dentistry, medicine, or veterinary medicine/science course, the deadline is 15th October 2017. Please note, that the Oxbridge application system follows a slightly different procedure, which will be covered in our next news bulletin.
Once your child has submitted their application to UCAS, they’ll need to wait for each institution to make their decision. The UCAS Track portal will keep them updated and notified of any correspondence for their chosen institutions. It’s important to note that applicants are unable to reply to any offers until a decision has been made from all of the institutions.
Institutions will make one of three decisions:
- Offer a place – either conditional or unconditional
- Invitation to interview before making a final decision
- Advise of an unsuccessful application
A conditional offer will have stipulations that will need to be met for the place to be guaranteed – such as final grades in certain subjects.
An unconditional offer will have no conditions attached, and is usually only given if the grades required are already in places (such as if one is applying after the final exams have been sat, during a gap year).
Responding to Offers
As stated, your child can only respond to offers made once they’ve heard back from all of their chosen institutions.
Then, they must select the following:
Firm Choice – which should be their first choice course.
Insurance Choice – a course they’re keen to study but which has a lower offer requirement than their firm choice.
Unfortunately, it is then a waiting game until results day in August to establish which place will be guaranteed (unless of course they have an unconditional offer).
We will publish more on what to expect after receiving your grades later in the academic year.
Check out this BBC Radio 5 interview for some further tips: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05gtvtv?utm_content=buffer75548&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin.com&utm_campaign=buffer