First and foremost, Happy New Year to everyone!
Today’s blog post is going to be centred around university and how to apply for a place a university in the UK. In this post I am going to try and explain what UCAS is, what the process entails, personal statements, clearing, and then finally some useful tips from myself and my experience to ensure that the application you send is a great one! 😊
*Important information to note*
- Deadline for this year’s entry is 31st January 2024 by 18:00
- Applications to Oxford, Cambridge, or courses such as medicine or veterinary science have an earlier application deadline, usually October 15th.
What is UCAS?
UCAS stands for Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, and it is an online portal through which you send applications to study various HE (higher education) courses in the UK. During your time at sixth form, or college, you will choose the course you want to study at university and then, via UCAS, you will send an application to up to five universities to study that particular course.
Just as an example, when I sent my UCAS application back in 2018, I applied for the following courses at the following universities:
Lancaster University: German and Spanish Studies
Newcastle University: German and Spanish Studies
UCLan: Modern Languages – German and Spanish
Warwick University: German and Spanish Studies
Sheffield University: German and Spanish studies
Not sure how to choose a university?
- Think about how far away you want to move, if at all.
- Is there a particular university that is well known for that subject? (I.e. Lancaster was high on the league tables for languages right behind Oxford and Cambridge
- City vs. campus university? Do you prefer the hustle and bustle of a city, or are you more inclined towards a campus university that has all your amenities in one place.
What the application process entails:
Once you have decided on what subject you’re thinking of studying, it’s time to create an account on UCAS. Once you have signed up for an account, you will receive a UCAS ID number which will become a very useful piece of information so keep a record of it. You will then start the application process. There are 6 sections to the application, and it is recommended, yet not obligatory, that you fill these out in order:
Personal information > your choices > education > employment > statement > reference
Personal Information: This is just the standard information about yourself such as name, date of birth, address, and so on. Be sure to read through this carefully before you submit because something as simple as a spelling mistake can stop you from making a good impression.
Your Choices: In this section, you will add your specific choices. As previously stated, you can select up to five, most people choose the same course at five different universities, however you can choose different courses at the same university. The most important thing is that you are only allowed 5 choices in total. Each course and university will have a course and institution code. Make sure that the codes line up to the choice you actually want to make! All of this information can be found on the University website, in the university’s prospectus guide, and by using the UCAS website search tool.
Education: At this stage in the application process, you will need to enter any formal qualifications that you currently have. This will be your GCSE grades and any qualifications you gained in Y12 (AS Levels) or qualifications from college such as BTECs.
Employment: In the employment section of the application, note down any employment that you have had in the past where you were paid. Not everybody is going to be able to fill in this part of the application so don’t worry if you haven’t got anything to add, it won’t negatively impact the application. If you have any volunteer or internship experience, mention these in the personal statement section of your application as they are still very good bits of experience to include.
The Personal Statement: This is usually the part of the UCAS application that causes the most stress for students. The personal statement is where you will have the opportunity to show those reviewing your application why you should be accepted onto the course. In short, a personal statement is a mini essay explaining why you want to study this subject or subject area. Remember that you only have one personal statement for your application and so the same statement is sent to all five of your choices, which is why it is recommended that you apply to similar courses at different universities.
Reference: The reference is the final portion of the application and is usually completed by someone from your school or college. They will write a short reference to back up your application and it is then attached to your application when you submit it.
My personal top tips
- Give yourself as much time as possible to complete your application as it can sometimes be a timely process.
- It’s a big decision so do your research and make sure you find courses and universities that you are really willing to go to.
- Have someone read over your personal statement and application just in case. The last thing you want is for a great personal statement to be ruined by bad spelling and grammar.
Our choices guide has some more great tips and resources for you including tips on writing personal statements, the university application process and key terms you may come across, as well as information regarding student finance.
If you have any more questions or queries regarding UCAS and applying to university in general, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at email@example.com or even DM us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or Discord
GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR APPLICATIONS! 😊