Wednesday, 19 December 2012

5 Essential Things To Know About Your UCAS Application Over Christmas

1. UCAS opening hours over Christmas

Monday 24 December
10:00-16:00 (UK time)
Tuesday 25 December
Wednesday 26 December
Thursday 27 December
Friday 28 December
Saturday 29 December
Sunday 30 December
Monday 31 December
Tuesday 1 January

2. Letters will not be sent out by UCAS over the Christmas period

The last day before Christmas that letters will be sent from UCAS will be Thursday 20 December. We'll then resume sending letters on 2 January 2013. Therefore, if you send your application over the Christmas period, the Welcome letter won't be sent out before 2 January.

3. Track will update over Christmas (if updates are made by your uni choices!)

Each year we get asked whether Track will update over the Christmas break. Track will work as usual over this time BUT bear in mind it's only going to update if universities are actually making decisions during this time. As many universities will either be closed or operating with reduced staff over Christmas, it'll mean less decisions get made and as a result Track might be fairly quiet.

4. Schools and colleges will be closed over Christmas

Yep, stating the obvious now but there's good reason to do it! There are some things on your application that only your school can process. These include:

Sending your application to UCAS
Approving your application
Moving you into another tutor's group to write a reference
Returning an application to you for amendments (if it hasn't yet been sent to UCAS)

Therefore, if you need any of these things to be done over Christmas, you'll need to get in touch with your school when they reopen. Also bear in mind, whether you're applying independently or through a school, the reference must be completed before the application can be sent to UCAS.

5. Applications will be processed over Christmas

Any applications sent to UCAS over the Christmas period will be processed as usual, although as mentioned in point 2, a Welcome letter won't be sent until 2 January at the earliest.

Friday, 14 December 2012

15 January deadline: Last minute issues and how to avoid them!

The 15 January deadline is fast approaching. The deadline has probably been seared into your memories by your schools, colleges and advisers so you probably don't need another reminder! Instead I've gathered together the sort of issues that've caused applications to be submitted late in previous years and given some advice on how to prevent them happening to you!

Know your login details for Apply
Make sure you know your login details, as you'll need to log in to Apply to send your application. Use the login reminder service on the Apply page if you're not sure. You can also find guidance on login problems for Apply here

Send it earlier if you can
The deadline is midnight on 15 January (23:59 UK time) but try to send it sooner in case you experience any problems, e.g. internet connection issues, payment problems.

Be prepared for any payment issues
You must pay for your application before it can be sent to UCAS. If you enter invalid payment details five times, you will be locked out from making any more payment attempts - if this happens, you'll need to call us so send your application early just in case. You can get some guidance on payment problems here

If you're applying through a school or college, they'll need time to review your application
Your tutor needs time to complete the reference section and check and approve your application before they send it to UCAS. If they spot any errors, they'll send your application back to you to amend. If this happens, you need to change it and send it back to them, so that they can send it to us. It may not happen, but it's good to allow time for this just in case. Simply sending it to your school or college before the deadline won't count as sending it on time; it has to be received by UCAS.

You need a reference before you can send your application to us
However you request a reference (whether you're applying independently or through a school or college), you still need to have a reference attached to your application before it can be sent to UCAS.

If you're applying independently, allow enough time for your referee to read the instructions, write and attach the reference, and confirm that it has been completed. A red tick will appear next to the 'reference' link in Apply once it's complete. This means you can complete the rest of the application and send it to us.

If you're applying through a school or college, send your application to them early to allow them time to do write the reference and carry out the other checks before the deadline.

If you've agreed with the universities that a reference is not required - check the information on the reference page to see what to do.

Monday, 3 December 2012

8 tips for preparing for your university interview

With interviews becoming an increasingly popular topic of conversation over the next few weeks, we thought it was high time to get a university's perspective on what they're looking for and how best to prepare for the big day. So up stepped the University of Bristol to offer eight valuable tips:

It’s around this time of year that you may have been invited to an interview from one or more of your university choices. Not all courses invite candidates for interviews but they’re often required for popular courses where there are large numbers of high quality applicants and/or where the course requires a high degree of ‘people skills’ for success. The likelihood of an interview being part of the selection process will be reflected in a course’s advice on applying, which will be available on the relevant university’s website.  For example, Bristol’s Undergraduate Admissions Statements are available here

Getting invited to interview is a great achievement in itself – it means that the admissions tutors are impressed with your application and are seriously considering making you an offer. If you have been invited for an interview, or you know that one or more of your course choices uses interviews as part of the selection process, here are some tips on what to expect and how to prepare:
  1. Remember that the interview is not only the university’s opportunity to assess your suitability but also a   chance for you to decide if it’s the right choice for you. Use the interview day as an opportunity to explore the university and surrounding area – can you picture yourself studying and living there?

  2. Interviewers are not there to catch you out or make you nervous – they’ll be genuinely interested in you and your potential to succeed on their course. Research as much as you can about the course content, the department and the university to show the interviewers your interest and commitment. 

  3. Make sure you re-familiarise yourself with your personal statement and prepare for generic questions such as ‘why did you apply to this university?’ and ‘why do you want to study this particular course?’

  4. Interviewers are likely to be seeing several candidates so don’t expect to spend a long time with them. To make a good impression within a limited time, think about the qualities you have to offer that you feel make you stand out from the competition. If you’ve done relevant work experience, read widely around your subject or have won awards or accolades, make sure you use the opportunity to highlight this. 

  5. Practice doing a ‘mock interview’ with a parent, teacher or careers adviser. The interview situation can seem unnatural and pressurised so to practise talking about yourself and presenting in a confident manner can be really useful. 

  6. Wear something that is smart but also practical – rehearse sitting down and walking in your outfit to make sure that it remains presentable and comfortable throughout. 

  7. Read your invitation letter or email carefully to ensure that you know where you need to be and when. You may have been asked to bring a piece of work or other documentation so make sure you have these prepared. Arrive at the interview venue in plenty of time so that you don’t feel rushed. This will give you the opportunity to relax and go over some key points before you start. 

  8. Be yourself and be confident in your potential to succeed in the interview and on your chosen course. 
More guidance about interviews at Bristol is available here where you can download a factsheet about interviews and see a video of a mock Medicine interview.
Good luck!

Sian Hughes, Assistant Publications Officer, University of Bristol