Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The 15 January deadline is nearly here. Are you ready for it?

Your application needs to be with us by 18:00 (UK time) on 15 January to guarantee it’ll get equal consideration by the unis or colleges you’re applying to. If you apply after this deadline, the unis you’re applying to don’t have to consider your application.

If you’re a relaxed sort of person who likes to leave things to the last minute, you’re putting your application in danger. Here are the top reasons why leaving it to the last minute is really not a clever idea:

Stress – if you finish your application now, you don’t have to worry about it over the Christmas holidays, and so can relax and have fun without the nagging guilt of an unfinished application.

Technical issues – if you leave it until the last minute, your computer breaks and off-and-on-again doesn’t quite cut it, you’ll be in real trouble.

Research – some unis or colleges might want to see proof of your qualifications, so leave yourself plenty of time to find and dust off those certificates.

You won’t do yourself justice – especially when it comes to the personal statement, it pays to plan, redraft and redraft again. You’ll want to make sure your application is the best it can possibly be, and you won’t be able to do this if you leave it until the last minute.

Read our blog post and follow our five steps to avoid deadline drama.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Why you can afford to be braver in accepting university offers

Mary Curnock Cook,
UCAS' Chief Executive
Our End of Cycle Report spells out how applicants with even quite modest grades have a high chance
of getting offers from universities and colleges. And as the 2015 UCAS cycle gets underway, students will already be receiving offers and starting to think about which ones to accept.

Our report also highlights that applicants can make better use of their insurance choice.

Admissions officers understand what predicted grades mean

Many teachers use predicted grades to indicate what they think is the true potential of a student, rather than trying to predict what the outcome is most likely to be – and admissions officers realise this. This means that applicants might feel that an offer at, or even above, their predicted grades is a bit of stretch – and this is where the insurance choice comes in.

If you receive an offer you know you are unlikely to meet, you can still accept it as your firm choice, using the insurance choice as your ‘safe’ back-up. In the summer, even if you drop a grade against your ambitious firm choice offer, you might still be confirmed there. If not, your insurance offer kicks in and you are home and dry.

If you fail to make even your insurance conditions, there is still Clearing. Recent years have shown that there are usually plenty of courses with vacancies at all levels, including at the higher Tariff universities.

Applying for courses which have indicative requirements above your predicted grades

With five choices to play with, it is also relatively low risk to apply for a course or two which state grade requirements above your predictions. This might be a good option if you feel your school is under-estimating how determined you are to up your performance between now and the summer.   Make sure your personal statement is strong on your commitment though!

Make sure your insurance choice excites you

Using the insurance choice properly does mean that you need to do your research thoroughly, visit at least two universities, and be confident and excited about studying there.

It might even help to think of the insurance choice as your intended destination, with the tantalising and motivating possibility that your more ambitious ‘firm’ choice might turn up trumps in the final straight.

Don’t forget that accepting you at your insurance choice if you meet the conditions is not optional for universities.  If you have missed being confirmed at your firm choice, your insurance choice is contractually obliged to accept you if you have met those grades.

Our End of Cycle Report provides the evidence that students can afford to be bolder in their ambitions.  The insurance choice takes the risk out of dreaming about a university place with an offer that might seem a bit scary at this point, but which might be a real possibility as you work towards your exams and gain confidence in the lead up to the summer.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Meet our bloggers!

We have nine bloggers who’ve volunteered to share their different experiences with you throughout the year. Amongst them are people applying to uni, first year students and parents. Read a little more about them below…….

Anna Whittaker
Anna would like to study journalism and will be blogging about applying to uni. She hasn't had to wait long to hear back from her uni choices and has already attended an interview at one of them. While at the interview, she began to see herself at that university, so give her blog a read and check how she’s getting on. 

Scott Taylor
Scott’s a first year broadcast journalism student who’ll be blogging about his journey through university life. He writes about the importance of getting involved with freshers’ week and studying a subject you’re passionate about. He’ll also reflect on applying to university last year and offering handy tips for anyone with nerves about applying this year. 

Nicola Maclean
Nicola is a year 13 student applying to study English literature and she’s been lucky enough to receive offers fairly quickly after sending in her application. She’ll be blogging about her application and how she and her friends are dealing with the excitement of receiving university decisions.

Julie Ricketts
Julie is the parent of a first year student, and she’ll be blogging about the mixture of emotions any parent will go through when seeing their child go to university. She’ll also be sharing any helpful tips she comes across to other parents in a similar position. 

Martin Taylor
Martin will share the experience of having his youngest daughter make the transition from teenager to ‘responsible adult’ while at university. His daughter took a gap year before starting university and, among other things, he’ll be blogging about why he feels this has served her well in the long-run.

Henriette Stoll
Henriette is a first year student from Germany who is studying PR and advertising. She’ll be sharing the cultural differences between being a student in Germany and moving to England, as well as her experiences of meeting new people, being away from her family and adapting to the language. Check out how she’s dealing with life in London in her blog

Lauren Vipond
Lauren is a first year student studying physiotherapy at Keele University. She’ll be updating her fresher’s diary to share her journey through fresher-dom, joining societies and juggling her busy social life with her course. She’ll be looking back on her UCAS application from last year and also updating her blog with the various things she’s experienced so far while at uni. 

Megan Fitzsimons
Megan will be blogging as a first year student, sharing her hectic experience of life as a fresher, including the infamous ‘freshers’ flu’ and adapting quickly to her housemates. She’ll also touch on the amount of people you meet in a short time and how to keep yourself busy away from lectures.

Lily Fisher
Lily is applying to start university. She’ll be sharing her journey and offering helpful advice to anyone else going through the same process in her blog.

Enjoy the blogs, they’ll give you a better insight into applying to uni and student life from different perspectives. Feel free to leave them a comment on their blog posts if you have any questions for them. 

This month we have the first Blogger of the Month competition, you can vote for your favourite here.

If you have any questions about your application send us a message on Facebook or Twitter. Did you know we have a game? Download Uni Leap for iOS http://ow.ly/DRWWB or Android http://ow.ly/DRWWC now. 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

How to prepare for interviews, auditions and tests

Depending on the kind of courses you apply for, your chosen unis and colleges may invite you for an interview or audition – in fact they’re compulsory for some courses, such as teaching and nursing.

They’re a way for both students and course tutors to find out if they’re mutually suitable. If invited, your chosen uni will make sure you have all the details so you know where to go and when. The interviewers may want to see work examples – such as an essay or piece of coursework – but they’ll let you know this in advance.

Here are some quick tips from us:

  1. Plan ahead – check where you’ve got to go, when you’ve got to be there and try to sleep well the night before so you’re in the best possible position on the day.
  2. Make a good first impression – show up on time, dress appropriately, remember your manners and be in control of your body language. Interviewers see hundreds (sometimes thousands) of students so make sure you stand out for all the right reasons.
  3. Try your best to relax – although interviews are a daunting experience, try to enjoy it once you’re there. If the unexpected happens and they ask a question you’re not prepared for, don’t panic – ask your interviewer to rephrase or repeat the question and give it your best shot. They won’t be trying to catch you out.
  4. Read your personal statement – your interviewer will have your application fresh in their mind, so make sure you can remember what you wrote and be prepared to talk about it.
  5. Shout about your achievements – well don’t literally shout, but be prepared to talk passionately about things you’ve done which you’re proud of – for example coursework, charity work or a social event you might have organised. If it demonstrates key skills that are linked to your chosen course, mention it.
  6. Ask questions – you need to convince your interviewer that you’ve got a real passion for your subject, so come prepared with questions to show that you’ve really thought about studying the subject at your chosen uni.
  7. Reflect on it afterwards – when you come out of the interview room, allow time to make notes on how it went. If you’ve got more than one interview, this will give you something to work on for the next one.
For more interview tips, take a look at our how to prepare for interviews video guide.
Instead of an interview you may be asked to submit a portfolio or take an admissions test. In this case, the university will let you know what you need to do and when by. If for any reason you can’t meet their requirements you must let them know as early as possible.