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 ❤

Results Days

The 17th and 24th of August are important days for a lot of people this year… the dreaded days of results. I got my AS results today and I know friends who got A2 results, as well as next Thursday, friends who are getting GCSE results.

Before today, the most popular question I got was; ‘Are you nervous or worried?’ I think I mainly answered ‘No.’ This was usually met with a strange look or more questions about why I wasn’t having sleepless nights about ‘the day that’s the beginning of the end’.

My views on results days ( A-Level or GCSE) are nice and simple; once you have sat the exam (or handed in the coursework etc.) there is nothing that can be changed. Although that might be daunting if you think you’ve done badly, it also raises the question of why would you worry about something you can’t change?

If you got your results today; I hope you’ve done well and you are pleased with your grades. Congratulations if you have been given your place at the universities of choice, and if you haven’t, remember that A-Levels are not the be-all and end-all. If you don’t do as well as you hoped, don’t spend the next few weeks drinking the rest of your holidays away. You should research what your next options are. Are there other courses, at possibly different levels, that you can apply for? Can you go through clearing and get a place somewhere else? If you are truly passionate about the subject you want to study, I am sure there is a place available somewhere. There is no point hiding that you got lower grades than you wanted because otherwise, you wouldn’t be in clearing, so try and describe to universities how much you want to study your chosen subject and how much it would mean to be given another opportunity.

For GCSE students, it’s a similar story but instead of a university place, its college and sixth form offering you your next steps in education. I remember my GCSE results last year, and whilst I was happy with my grades as I had done quite well, I think I was expecting higher. I now look back and realize that the grades I got were a true reflection on how hard I worked. You honestly do only get out however much work you put in. I was fortunate to have teachers who really cared about their pupils and subjects, so I was at an advantage of good quality teaching. But, as I was at an independent school, the pressure it puts you under to achieve higher than average grades is huge, especially with many people around you with academic scholarships.

I am now at college studying A-Levels, and I am really enjoying myself. The thing that really hits hard in your first few months of college is; GCSE’s are just a ‘stepping stone’ (excuse the cliché) to your next choice. So, if you don’t get the grades, don’t worry about it! Because a D in geography at GCSE is NOT going to stop you getting anywhere in life, trust me on this. It is now one year since my GCSE results, and I can’t even remember what I got. That’s not just my terrible memory either. Multiple people, I have asked can’t even remember the subjects they studied.

I wish everyone the best of luck with their GCSE results next week, try not to panic too much and remember it will all be okay, whatever your grades are. If you’re off to university next month, good luck! I hope everyone has an amazing time. And if you are now looking at a different route to what you originally planned, don’t worry about it, because it will work itself out and if it’s meant to be, it will happen.

Thank you for reading this, especially today with everything else on your mind, and I hope I’ve reassured some people on next week. Once again, good luck!

Imogen ❤