By now, if you’re in year 12 or equivalent, you will have probably made your top 5 uni choices. By the time school starts again (in a few weeks, I’m afraid to say!) you’ll have to start the UCAS application process straight away.
If you haven’t quite made your top 5 choices just yet, now is probably the best time to do so! It’s one of those jobs that is so easy to put off, but if you just spend a day at the end of the holidays properly researching a wide range of unis, it’s definitely worthwhile. I didn’t make the decision until about 2 days before I had to go back to school and I started to apply 3 days after that, so it was a bit rushed in my case! I knew 3 out of the 5 unis that I wanted to put down, but had to think long & hard about the other 2.
REMEMBER: Don’t just apply to unis that meet/exceed your predicted grades. Apply for at least 1 or 2 that ask for grades that are lower than you expect to get. This doesn’t mean sacrificing a good uni at all – grade requirements differ from course to course & some unis lower their grade requirements if you are offered a place because they want you to go there. But by no means count on this happening; it’s at their discretion!
Make sure that you would be happy to go to ANY of your 5 unis!! I know this is an obvious point that teachers will make to you, but it is SO true. I have friends that were left disappointed in the UCAS process in that they didn’t get their “top choice(s)” & then realised that they didn’t really like their other “lower” choices but couldn’t really do too much about it, other than complain! You HAVE to go into this process expecting, in the absolute worst case scenario, that you won’t get any of your 5 unis.
I only looked around one of my five unis, which in hindsight was a poor move, but luckily it happened to be the uni that I got into that I looked around. (In no way was I just expecting to get into Cambridge by the way, it was that my other unis were very far away from where I live & transport on their set open days was difficult etc – I wasn’t that cocky!). So do get a chance to look around as many unis in your final 5 as you can, preferably before you start the formal UCAS application process!
Think long & hard about your 5 choices – you may get all of them (as I luckily did) – you may get none. The UCAS process is a bit of a lottery in all honesty. There will be some people that you know who you think were very unlucky in the process & who deserved more offers, there will be some who you will think did not. But on the whole, the unis do get it right most of the time. They will pick the applicants that they think will get them the best grades. At the end of the day; they’re a business looking for profits, just like any others. For them, top students generate the best grades to give them more profits etc. It’s a realistic way of looking at it & it’s a bit bleak I suppose, but it’s unfortunately true.
So basically, look at all aspects of as many unis as possible. Campus/city-based, catered/non-catered, accomodation types that will/won’t suit you & look at the differences in the courses at each uni. After all, that is primarily what you’ll be paying £9,000 a year for!
Next process coming soon! Comment for any advice etc! Emily x