A Level Results Day

Hey everyone! It is 11 days until A Level results day! Yes, I am counting down the days, not because I am petrified of finding out my results but because I am excited to see where I will be heading in September! I have previously written a piece about GCSE results day, as I knew a few younger people were quite nervous about receiving their results. Now, one year on, I am waiting for my A Level results, hoping to achieve the grades I need to get into my first choice of Universities!

Lots of people will be nervous about getting their results. Some of you may know that you smashed the exams after months of hard revising and you are confident you are going to do well! Others may think the exams have gone well but are staying quietly confident that you will get the necessary grades. And unfortunately, other people will be dreading the 16th, knowing that their exams did not go as they had hoped and that they are going to need a contingency plan if they get worse grades than the Universities are offering to accept.

Even if you are one of the confident individuals and you know that you have achieved your grades, having a back-up plan can never hurt! One thing I had forgotten is that if you do better than you had expected or have achieved higher grades that will get you into a higher University than is your first choice, you can go through Clearing to apply to the higher Universities. For example, you have a conditional offer from University of Liverpool for Mathematics for ABB, but you have achieved 3 A*’s! You could now apply through clearing to go to your other higher choice of UCL for A* A* A. If they have the spaces, they should accept you, as you have not only met the requirements, but have exceeded them. Keep this in mind if you do better than you had expected!

Similarly, if you have changed your mind about your first choice University, after checking the entry grades, and knowing that you have met them, you can apply through Clearing to your new choice. If you now want to go to University of Sussex (ABB) then you could apply through Clearing (as long as they have the spaces).

Clearing (through UCAS) works by creating a new application, and therefore a new UCAS Track profile. This will become active once your application is complete and you have received a welcome email. You can apply through Clearing for a number of reasons but the main ones include –

  • You have applied after the deadline of June 30th
  • You didn’t receive any offers
  • You don’t want to accept the offers you have been given
  • You do not meet the entry requirements of your University firm and insurance choices

If you don’t get the grades, don’t panic! If you really want to go to a specific University, ring them up and explain why you want to do your course there. Don’t try to make excuses about why your grades were lower than expected, unless there is a clearcut reason (for example a grievance or illness etc.). One thing to remember is that the Universities really want passionate and brilliant students, and often, with the rising number of other options instead of University (apprenticeships etc.) Universities may even be reaching out to fill the spaces they have for a course! Be hopeful, and don’t get flustered, if you do decide to ring them, try to stay calm. If you have become upset after receiving your results, just take a moment to compose yourself before you speak to the University.

If your University doesn’t have space on the course you want, you can try a different course, for example, if you were planning to do Psychology, try seeing if they have spaces on a Psychology with Education or something along those lines. Who knows? Perhaps the course will interest you more than you think! If it really isn’t your cup of tea, once you start your course, if you request to swap to your original course soon enough in the year, they may be able to fit more people in, due to drop-outs and people declining their offers.

The other option with Clearing is that other Universities may have spaces on the course you want to do. These may be Universities you hadn’t thought of, so be open minded and think; if I really want to do this course, does it matter which University I am at? Do try and look around any Universities before you confirm your place, or at least see if they offer a virtual tour online. Failing that, try using Google Maps Street View to look around the externals of the buildings to get a kind of feel for the campus.

If the exams have gone so badly wrong that you are not going to be able to get into a University you would like to go to, then perhaps you should rethink your options. Could you take a year out? Retake a subject? Work full time until you have a clearer idea of where you want to go? Do an apprenticeship? There are lots of options and although it might seem like a huge disaster on the day when the results aren’t what you hoped for, everything will be ok in the end!

A Level Results are released on the 16th August 2018 and are usually available for collection from your school/sixth form/college. Alternatively, if you know you can’t make it there on the day, you can receive them over the phone or arrange to have them emailed to you (check individual rules for your institution). This may also be the default option for some schools, as they have so many students, emailing out the results can be easier.

Good luck to everyone who is waiting for results in just over 10 days and I hope that you all get the grades you are hoping for and if not, you are still able to find a way to study something you love!

Thank you for reading and keep an eye on my blog for more content as I move to University and blog about questions and key topics that have been requested!

Imogen ❤

 

UCAS… What next?

Hello everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while, I’ve been concentrating on my courses and all the work that comes with doing A Levels, fellow strugglers, you know what I mean! I have sent my UCAS application off and have received offers back. But, I have been asking myself, what next? What do I do in this long wait between now and results day (aside from revision for my all important exams… obviously!)? And then I thought, maybe if I don’t know the next steps, others don’t either. So I thought I would do some research and compile a little guide as to your next move closer to starting University!

Of course, I know that not everyone chooses to go to university, and that’s great! Some people are suited to different styles of learning, others want to travel and work. Whatever you choose to do, as long as it is what you want to do, then it’s going to be okay! But, this post is focused on people who have applied through UCAS (hence the title) so if that’s not you, please feel free to either stay and read anyway or skip this post!

Receive your offers:

This will be dependent on a number of factors, such as how your predicted grades align with the grades the University is asking for (or tariff points if that’s the system they use). They will also consider how many places they have on offer, and if they have fewer applicants than they expected, they may offer you the place but on lower grades, which is great! They may also give you a ‘contextual offer’ if you attend an Aspiring College or Sixth Form, of which there is a list online for each University if your institution fits the criteria, or if you make that University your firm choice, then they will perhaps lower the grades too. All in all, the Universities are really searching for the people that show they want to be there and even if their grades aren’t ‘up there’ they will still be given a fair opportunity to bag a place!

Reply to your offers:

Congratulations if you have had offers back from Universities saying that they would like to give you a place! There are three responses you could have received; Conditional, Unconditional or Unsuccessful. Depending on which you have received will determine your next steps.

Conditional means you’ve got a place! That is, as long as you achieve the grades that the University are after.

Unconditional means congratulations! You’ve got a place at the University with whatever grades you get! Some people automatically assume that this means they don’t have to turn up for their exams, BUT! I would strongly recommend carrying on revising and working hard, not only because Universities can withdraw their offers, but it will also make the first year so much easier, having a strong base of knowledge at a higher level!

Unfortunately, if your application has been unsuccessful, that means you haven’t got a place at that University. But, the other 4 applications may be successful, so don’t lose hope! I have had unsuccessful applications and everyone sort of tiptoed around the topic if it came up, but the first thing I said was “Don’t worry! I’m sort of happy I got rejected… it makes choosing my top two easier!” You’ve just got to look on the positive side of these things and you’ll be fine!

Applying for Finance:

I will go into more detail about this on a separate post, but the basic gist of this is explained really well on the UCAS website, and through various emails advising you on the best course of action. UCAS will email you with the 16 digit code you need to set up a student bank account (this is slightly different to applying for finance but I’ll explain later). Other information you will need to apply is your UCAS Personal ID number, Passport number and National Insurance Number. The process takes about half an hour, and you then print a form to sign and send to the Student Finance HQ. They suggest that it will take roughly 6-8 weeks to process, but as soon as the application is in, it’s one less thing to worry about!

So there you have it, the next few steps after you have sent in your application. Of course, there is accommodation, applicant days and lots of revision, among other things, but I’m going to be writing some more in-depth posts for these bits as I think they just need their own posts. I know lots of people are quite daunted by the process, but it honestly isn’t that scary and once you do it, you feel so much better for being on top of it!

Thank you for reading and keep an eye out for new posts under the University tab on my page and I’ll be posting more content soon!

Imogen S.

Uni Open Days

UCAS has just opened applications for September 2018 undergraduate entry for universities. Part of the fun of uni is getting to explore new places and make new friends, and it all starts with researching what you want to do and where you want to go. Part of this research is visiting universities on an Open Day. I have been to a few as part of my research, and there have been some I have really liked, and others that just haven’t quite hit the spot.

Some important things to remember when you’re looking around are:

  • You don’t have to like it! Your friend might say it’s the best university in the world, but your friend isn’t spending 3+ years there for you to complete your degree. The league tables might say that it is top in the country for the subject you want to study, but if you don’t like it then it’s going to make studying more difficult and less enjoyable for you! Make sure you like it because you’re the one that will be living there.
  • Everyone (mostly) is as confused and unsure as you are. The majority of the prospective students around you, are probably similar to your age and haven’t got a definite plan for what they want to study, let alone do for the rest of their lives. It’s great if you have a plan because you know what courses and qualifications you need to get into that career! But, it also isn’t the be all and end all of the choices. Most students change their minds during their course as they learn new areas of their subject, so don’t feel too pressured to make a decision and have to stick to it.
  • Look out for the helpers and students from the university (they’ll probably be wearing a coloured top that matches the university, or be holding a big flag etc). There are often multiple registrations and help point tents scattered around the university, so just pop over and ask for help if you need it. It’s what they’re there for!
  • Take the time to go to talks or presentations. Some of these you might need to book in advance and get tickets, or others you can just turn up and see if there is any extra room. Or, if a talk doesn’t appeal to you, head to an informal Q&A that most departments will hold all day in their respective buildings. I would recommend going to the department section anyway because you can look at the facilities and lecture halls and see what kind of environment you will be studying in.
  • Pick up as many leaflets as possible. Don’t go too crazy, but do take the opportunity to get more information about specific things that are important to you.
  • Got a passion? Sport? Music? Reading? Go take a look around the facilities, because they might offer something that will be the winning factor! You could also take a look at the library, even if you rarely touch a book, as they are often the place for computer suites and study areas.
  • Tour the accommodation and be realistic. I know the thought of sharing a bathroom with 8 other people doesn’t sound overly appealing, but universities tend to bump up the price of a standard room to ensuite by roughly £40/week if you’re lucky! Keep an open mind and remember you won’t be spending the whole time at university in halls. More often than not, students move out in their second year to external student accommodation. Then again, if you know you have the money to pay for a private student flat for £200/week, then go ahead and splash the cash!
  • Lastly, ask yourself the harsh and realistic question of; Am I going to get the grades to come here? It is brilliant to aim high because it makes you strive for success and people always get better grades if they truly believe they can. But, on the other hand, if you have got a C at AS, are you going to get an A* at A2? I am not suggesting that you completely close off the option if the requirements are slightly higher than your predicted grades, but make sure you have a backup plan. If you do love a university and their grades are high, then great! It could motivate you to work really hard all year and get those grades but it could also demotivate you and stress you out, chasing grades that are not realistic.

These are some of the things I have done when visiting universities and I have found that it tends to help to go into the day with a rough plan, so have a think before you dive straight into a place you don’t know!

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Have fun looking around new places and meeting some friendly faces that are always happy to help!

Thank you for reading and I’ll be writing more soon about the UCAS application process as I go through it myself, so keep your eyes peeled!

Imogen ❤