What is UCAS?
UCAS stands for the University and College Admission Service and acts as the point of liaison between you and the universities that you apply for. This means that you apply once through UCAS and they do the rest. They’ll also tell you about any offers, interviews or rejections that you receive.
The first thing that you will need to do is to create an account and register with the UCAS website. You will need to include your personal details like name, address and email address. It’s important that all of the details are filled in correctly in order for you to receive all of the essential information from UCAS and all of your universities.
Your personal statement is one of the most crucial aspects of the application. Along with your predicted grades, this can play a huge role in whether a university deems you a suitable candidate to study a course at their university. It is a 4000 character, or 47 lines, piece of work (around 600 words) that details all the positive characteristics and skills that you can bring to a university course, in addition to any work experience or extra-curricular activities that can help to support your case. To put it into context the length, that’s only the equivalent of 27 Tweets, and it can be challenging for students to portray themselves in such a short document. In addition to taking advice from teachers and careers advisors, further information on writing a personal statement can be found on the UCAS website.
Finalising the Application
Once you’ve completed your application, you will then need somebody to write you a reference. This usually comes from a teacher, head of sixth form or college lecturer. In order to send off your application, UCAS charge £12 per single course application. For applications with more than one choice, UCAS charge £23. Once this has been finalised, copies of your application will then be sent to your university choices. It is important to remember that the deadline for submitting the application to UCAS is the 15th of January at 18:00. Make sure you start the application well before the deadline to ensure teachers and careers advisors will be available to give feedback on your personal statement to ensure that it gives you the best possible chance of getting into the university that you really want to go to.
Once your applications have been submitted, you will eventually start to receive replies from universities. Universities have a deadline by which they must respond to your offer, which is usually in early May. Your responses will be viewed by UCAS Track, which will be available on your profile once you have submitted your application. This will alert you as to whether universities have given you an offer, interview or a rejection and so it is important that you check Track regularly.
Types of Offers
If you do not receive any offers from universities, or you decide to reject all the offers you receive, it is important not to panic. You will be able to apply for an additional two university places via UCAS Extra. This is to ensure that those who do not receive offers, or those that change their minds about the university they have applied for, will have another avenue of applying without having to delay going into higher education for a year.
Results and Clearing
Once you have decided on your firm choice (your preferred university) and your insurance choice (your second favorite in case you don’t make the grades for your firm), all that’s left to do is work hard, sit your exams and wait for results day. This usually occurs in mid-August. If you do find out on results day that you haven’t made the grades to get into your firm or insurance choice, don’t panic. After results day, there will be a period known as Clearing, during which universities open any unfilled courses to students who are no longer going to their original two choices. Students can call universities and speak directly to advisors, or check university websites for available places.