Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Better late than never? Making an application after the 15 January deadline

Karen Pichlmann, Head of Admissions at Bournemouth University, explains why there are deadlines in the first place, what making a late application means and the options you'll have open to you:

Karen Pichlmann
Did you decide today that you want to go to uni only to find the deadline has passed?  That’s OK, you can still go.  And the choice is either to wait until next year (putting the deadlines in your diary now) or see what’s available to late applicants.  Deadline doesn’t mean dead-end. 

UCAS application deadlines are there for a reason, from your perspective it means your university application is out of the way before you get down to the all-important revision.  Deadlines also mean universities can manage the selection process – time for interviewing, portfolio presentations, selection days etc.  Universities deal with vast numbers of applications, and in order to give each one the consideration it deserves, we need time.  Plus it works the other way too, universities have to let you know their decisions by certain deadlines.

Many schools and colleges really encourage their students to meet the deadlines (some students may say ‘nagging’!) and the vast majority of applicants do.  For some prospective students, they just aren’t ready by the deadlines for a variety of reasons.  The decision to go to university may come later in the year, once they are further through their A levels or BTEC for instance.  Students who aren’t in a school or college may not be aware that deadlines exist – understandable when they seem so early compared to when university starts.  Indeed, some students at university currently may have a change of heart and need to change course.

Missed the deadline?
So now we know why the deadlines are there, the next logical question is “are there deadlines for late applications?” Yes of course!  See UCAS’ important dates section.  You can apply now and until 30 June as a late applicant.  After this time, you will go into Clearing.  Five months sounds like a long time, but I’d urge you not to delay as some courses may close over the coming months.

Equal consideration
Before you proceed, I need to tell you about ‘equal academic consideration’.  Essentially it does what it says on the tin, and guarantees each applicant equal consideration as long as they apply by the deadline.  Applying after the deadline, means a university doesn’t have to employ this rule and can reject you even if you meet the entry criteria.  Most universities will let UCAS know that their courses are full and cannot accept any more applications.  Some may only be looking for a few select applicants.  Others know that good applicants sometimes miss deadlines, and give equal consideration.  I’d put Bournemouth in all three categories – some of our courses are full, some will have a small number of offers to make and some will consider late applicants more widely.

What will be available?
The short answer is not everything. 

Example: you’re suddenly consumed with a burning desire to study, say, English.  You love literature, the classics, to write and to read widely.  You start to research what’s available and discover that the number of available English literature courses is limited.  Looking more closely, you can see English language, English and Politics, English and Communications courses available for example.  Reading the detail of these courses will tell you if they will be suitable for your goals and interests.

Therefore, you may have to be more flexible and think of alternative pathways if you apply now.  Universities offer help and advice on your options. At Bournemouth we have a dedicated future students team to answer your questions and so do other universities. 

Finding out what’s available
Research is the key to applying to university, whenever you do it.

University websites should tell you if they are accepting late applications. Bournemouth has it clearly on each course listing as does the UCAS course search

How to apply
There’s no different process for applying now.  You register to use UCAS Apply and away you go.  I can’t emphasise enough the need to complete the application in full, including your references.   Whilst we are happy to consider late applications, we want to consider good ones.  UCAS provide lots of advice on completing your application.

I hope this has given you the confidence to get started on your application, knowing that it’s not too late to start university this year.  Remember to get in touch with the universities you’re interested in.  Good luck!

Monday, 7 January 2013

3 reasons why your application might miss the 15 January deadline... and how to avoid them!

It’s never nice to see someone miss the 15 January deadline. We know how much work you've put into your application, how much frustration there can sometimes be with it and the hopes you have pinned on it.

Missing the deadline means your university choices no longer have an obligation to consider your application. Some can choose to consider you after 15 January but it’s entirely at their discretion. However, for those courses and universities where competition is high it’s unlikely that the application will be considered.

Here’s the good news though: you’re reading this blog now and not after 15 January! In most cases for applications which miss the deadline, you can pinpoint the reason for it to something that happened (or didn’t happen!) during the Christmas break and early-January.

So let’s get it all out in the open. Here are the three main things that cause issues in those vital last couple of weeks before the big day:

1. You assume your school/college have sent your application to UCAS. And they haven’t.
Your tutors and advisers will put a lot of work into coordinating all your UCAS applications, advising you on what to be putting into it, what to be leaving out, writing references, checking the applications for mistakes and then getting them sent off. It’s no easy job but it’s one they carry out with great diligence on top of their usual workload.

However, everyone’s human and sometimes mistakes can be made and an application might not get sent off. These mistakes are relatively rare but that’s no consolation to those it happens to. 
Thankfully it’s very quick and easy to check if it’s been sent. So take 30 seconds to log onto Apply and look at the Welcome page. If your school have sent the application to UCAS, it’ll look like this (click on image to enlarge):

If they’re still writing the reference, it’ll look like this:

If the reference has been written but the application hasn’t been approved by your school, then it’d look like this:

All fairly straightforward really. So, if your Welcome page doesn't say the magic words 'Your application has been sent to UCAS and will be processed shortly' you need to get in touch with your school and ask them when this will be sent. If they've already given you a date for when they’ll do this then there’s no need to chase them, just keep an eye on it. However, if they've given you the impression that the application has already been sent to UCAS, then get in touch with them and have the situation clarified.

2. Your referee hasn't finished their reference.
Every year there will always be some people (both independent and school/college applicants) in a mad panic that their reference hasn't been finished (or started) and that they've got no way of getting in touch with the referee. Without the reference, the application can’t be sent off.

So, if you've exhausted all possibilities of getting in touch with your referee and there’s no way they’re going to be able to complete it by the deadline, here’s what you can do:

i) Get someone else to write the reference
They way you do this will differ depending on whether you’re applying through a school or applying independently. 

If you’re applying through a school, already sent it to them and have no way of contacting a tutor then you’d need to register a new application and complete that one instead. However, if you've not yet sent the application to your school, you can call us and an adviser will change it to an independent application thereby allowing you to request someone else to write the reference.

If you’re applying independently and you've not clicked on the option 'Ask a registered school, college or organisation to write your reference only' you can click on the link to ask someone else to write it.

If you’re applying independently and have clicked on the option 'Ask a registered school, college or organisation to write your reference only' you’d need to call us and an adviser can reset your reference request. You can then click on the option to ask someone else to write it.

ii) Send it off without a reference
This should only be done as a last resort and it carries a degree of risk. If you follow the same steps as above for getting someone else to write the reference, you can tick a box to say that no reference is required:

As the message states, you should only use the option if all your choices have agreed that you can send the application without a reference. If you haven’t spoken to them and got the OK to do it, then they can choose not to consider your application if they wish.

However, if you’re not able to get in touch with all your choices and your options are either to not send the application by the deadline or to get it in on time without the reference, then the second option is obviously better.

You’d then need to get in touch with your choices as soon as you can to explain why you had to send off your application without a reference and to ask if they’ll still consider your application if you were to arrange for the reference to be sent direct to them.

We'll be on hand to deal with any
last-minute late-night issues on 15 January 
3. Your application has been returned to you by your school/college for amendments and you’ve not sent it back to them
As many of you are probably well aware, your school can return the application to you for corrections to be made. If this happens, you get an email from UCAS telling you to log onto Apply. Once on the Welcome page, you’ll see a message from your school explaining what needs to be amended.

If you do have to correct anything in your application, make sure you send it back to the school after! You just need to click on ‘Pay/send’ (you don’t need to pay again though). The requirement to send it back to your school sometimes gets overlooked and results in the application not being sent by your school.

Stay Calm... 
Above all though, try not to stress about it! Our Customer Service Advisers will be putting in extra hours this week and next to answer all your queries on our social media channels and telephone lines. They’ll also be available until 00:30 (UK time) on 16 January to make sure your questions are answered right up until and beyond the midnight deadline.