Friday, 10 October 2014

15 October deadline: applying on time

To begin with, let’s just clarify exactly what this deadline is for. The 15 October deadline is only for applications to most medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine/science courses, as well as all courses at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Meeting the deadline means that your application will receive equal consideration from your chosen universities and colleges. You can still apply after the deadline, but your application won't be guaranteed to get equal consideration.

So what counts as meeting the deadline? Well it’s pretty straightforward – we must receive your completed application before 18:00 (UK time) on 15 October. That means you must have completed every section, and paid for and sent your application by this time. If you’re applying through your school or college, they must have sent it to us before this time too.

Don't wait until the last minute!
As with any kind of deadline, it’s never a good idea to wait until the last minute. Aim to send your application as soon as you can, that way you have enough time to overcome any issues you face.


 
Prepare to pay
If you’re applying independently you’ll have to pay for your application before you can send it. If you’re applying with your school then this is true for you too unless your school has agreed to let us bill them instead (you’ll know if this is the case because you won’t be asked to make a payment before you send your application to your referee).

So for the majority of you who will need to pay with a credit or debit card – make sure you know which card you’re going to use, and check there’s enough money in the account. You’ll need to pay either £12 (for one course) or £23 (for multiple courses).

A word of warning...If you enter invalid payment details five times you’ll be locked out from making any more attempts, and for security reasons you’d need to call us to unlock your account.

Give school enough time to review your application 
(This bit’s only for those of you applying with a school or college, so independent applicants can skip ahead.)

When you send your application to your school or college, the tutor assigned to you will read through your application and make sure you’ve entered everything correctly. If they spot a mistake, for example you’ve forgotten to add one of the subjects you’re taking; they might send it back to you to make changes.

Even if your application is completely error free, your school still needs more than a few minutes to get your application sent off. It’s unlikely that yours is the only application they need to approve and send, plus it’s possible they’ll only be looking to see which applications are ready during school hours. If you think you’re going to be sending your application to them close to the deadline, speak to your tutor about this in advance.

Remember: 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.

Remember your reference
However you request a reference (whether you're applying independently or through a school or college), you must have a reference included in your application before it can be sent to UCAS.

If you're applying independently and you’ve agreed with the universities that a reference is not required – read the information on the reference page of your application to see what to do. Only do this if you have definitely spoken to the universities you’re applying to and had confirmation that they don’t need to see a reference for you.

Know your login details 
To log into your application you’ll need your username and password, so if you’re going to be sending your application close to the deadline, make sure you definitely know your login details.

If you have problems logging in, read our blog post 'The five reasons why you can't log into your application (and how to overcome them)'.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Personal statements: quick-fire questions answered!

Got a question about writing your personal statement? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’re often asked about this section of the application, and chances are your question will be one we’ve heard from other students. Check out the answers to five of the most frequently asked questions below they're all from admissions staff at universities and colleges (the people who spend their time reading personal statements!)

1. When should I start?
  • "As soon as you can! Give yourself time to write it properly. Your first draft alone could take you a whole day to write." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University. 
  • "Set yourself a schedule. It will take longer than you think to write your personal statement and it is important that you allow time to review your work several times." Emily Bell, the University of Liverpool.

2. What are unis looking for?
  • "Don’t forget about the obvious! Why do you want to study your chosen course?  Hopefully it’s something you know the answer to and have taken a lot of time to think about so make sure you include it." Emma Powell, Edge Hotel School.
  • "Enthusiasm, motivation and focus about the subject you’re applying to. Mention extra- curricular activities, transferable skills and include what your future career plans are after your degree." Maxine Charlton, the University of York.
  • "Unis aren’t looking for a dictionary definition of a subject. They know what their degrees are about; they want to know what you understand and enjoy about the subject. Emily Bell, University of Liverpool.

  •  "The best personal statements effectively link examples of the student's extra-curricular activities with the university's entry requirements." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University.

3. How should I structure my personal statement?
  • "Put your notes in order according to what the course you're interested in is looking for. If you have any skills and experience relevant to the entry requirements, make sure you say so at the start of your personal statement." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University.
  • "First impressions aren’t everything – yes, a lot of personal statements start in the same way. However, don’t put so much prominence on writing a witty first line – having a good overall personal statement will make a much better impression." Emma Powell, Edge Hotel School.

4. What should I do when I've written it?
  • "Check it carefully! Get your teachers, friends, partner, work colleagues or someone else you trust to read it - out loud - to you. It's a great way to spot errors and make sure it makes sense." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University.
  • "Don’t forget to save an up-to-date copy somewhere.  If you are invited for an interview your personal statement is likely to be read by the person interviewing you and may be used as a starting point for questions.  Make sure you can remember what you wrote and back it all up if you are asked." Emma Powell, Edge Hotel School.

5. What other advice do you have?
  • "Do not mention a specific university. Unless you reveal otherwise, we will think that you really only want to come to us!" Emily Bell, the University of Liverpool. 
  • "Remember you have a lot to offer – you just have to write about yourself in a positive way and sell all the skills and experience that you have." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University.

Need more personal statement help? Visit www.ucas.com/personal-statements and if you’re looking for somewhere to start, check out these 10 places to get personal statements pointers.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Become a UCAS Blogger!

Being a UCAS blogger is a great opportunity to showcase your writing skills, plus your posts will help others who are going through the same things as you. As a thank you, you’ll have the chance to enter regular competitions and exclusive prize draws.

If one of the following describes you and you’re interested in being a UCAS blogger, we want to hear from you!
  • You’re applying to universities or colleges in the UK
  • You’re a parent of someone who’s applying to universities or colleges in the UK
  • You’re about to start your first year at university or college in the UK
To register your interest, please complete this short questionnaire.

The closing date for entries is Wednesday 10 September. Good luck!


Thursday, 21 August 2014

Clearing experiences


In 2013 there were 57,100 students who were accepted at universities and colleges through Clearing. Each year there are students throughout the UK who are succeeding in their studies and careers after using Clearing to get a place on their chosen course – let us introduce you to four of them...

Jaz’s story
BBB were the grades Jaz needed to study the engineering course she’d chosen, but on results day things didn’t go to plan. She had a big decision to make: re-take her exams, change direction altogether or look for a place in Clearing. She chose Clearing, and she’s glad that she did because she now has a first class degree with honours in mechanical engineering from City University. And not only that, she has a successful career in retail energy management. Read her inspirational story here.


Riccardo’s story
Riccardo hadn’t applied to university when he got his exam results, but that didn’t stop him. He researched the Clearing vacancies for London Metropolitan University where he wanted to study, and found a course that was right for him. After speaking to their admissions team and sitting the English language test they required, he got a place. He’s now not only graduated but he’s gone on to study for a master's, with a view to go on to get a PhD. Hear about his experiences here. 



Charlotte’s story
Charlotte’s results weren’t what she was expecting, and she felt that should re-think her choice of course and university. She did her research and knew that early primary education at Northumbria University was what she wanted to do, so she got in touch with the programme leader to find out as much as she could. She’s now enjoying every minute of her course, and believes that using Clearing helped her to make the right decision about her future – listen to her story here.



Joyce’s story
Joyce was very upset when all five of her choices were unsuccessful for adult nursing. She had always wanted to contribute to the National Health Service and when that did not work out, she had to really think about what to do. She decided to use Clearing and was successful in getting a place on a public health course at the University of Greenwich.  She says she’s incredibly glad she tried this route, as she would have otherwise waited another year before reapplying.

Joyce has now completed her studies and will be graduating this October.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Finding the right course for you in Clearing

When it comes to contacting universities and colleges about courses in Clearing, it’s important to act quickly but that doesn't mean making a hasty decision. While you need to be proactive you also need to be sure that the course you accept is right for you. We asked admissions staff from universities and colleges to share their advice on researching courses effectively in Clearing  read on to find out what they told us...

Stewart Harper – Head of Student Admissions, Leeds Metropolitan University
  

Stewart Harper,
Leeds Metropolitan 
For those that are due to receive A level, BTEC or other exam results this summer, deciding what to do next may be an ever-present thought. The most important thing is not to panic; many universities still have places on a wide range of courses and we are here to help you.

Clearing isn’t a ‘second best’ option, but rather a process by which thousands of students each year find the course that is just right for them. As with the main UCAS cycle, the key is to make sure that you research the course and university, and if possible go and visit – we have opportunities to come and see our campuses on the Friday and Saturday after A level results for example, and that often serves to reassure applicants about the choices they are making.

It is difficult to get the same depth of research done in a few days as across the whole application cycle, so you can make a start now and see what vacancies universities are already advertising – our website also carries details of what UCAS Tariff points you need. You’ll need to consider the balance between different options within the same subject area – practical or theoretical, for example – that suits your own personal style or preferences.  

If you aren’t yet eligible to apply through Clearing (for example, if you are still waiting for your results) then keep a note of the courses or universities that attract you so that you don’t have to repeat the exercise, and if you are going to be away on results day take those notes with you – don’t forget that nobody else can do your application for you!

Doing your research now will put you ahead of the game and come September allow you to start on a really exciting journey!

(From 22 September 2014 Leeds Metropolitan University will become Leeds Beckett University.)

Emma Powell – Admissions Officer, the Edge Hotel School 
  

Emma Powell,
the Edge Hotel School
It’s never too early to prepare 
If you don’t have a place, or think you might not get the grades you need, think about your options before you have your results. Most universities let you visit and speak to admissions staff, so you can start to weigh up your options before it’s time to make a decision. It’s always a good idea to have a back-up plan – or even better, several!

On the day
Check the Clearing vacancies in The Telegraph and on the UCAS website, and look on institutions’ websites – many have a dedicated Clearing page. This is why preparing beforehand is useful – if you have an institution in mind you can call them to ask about Clearing vacancies or find them in the vacancy lists. At the Edge Hotel School we ask students interested in applying through Clearing to call us first.  

Questions you should ask
Some universities might want to interview you over the phone so make sure you’re not in a rush! We understand it’s a stressful time, but think about why you want to study there, what the course is about and what your job prospects might be. Doing research will make all the difference to making a good impression. 
  
You need to make sure it’s the right course for you and the place you want to be for the next few years. As well as answering questions that admissions staff ask, it’s important to have questions of your own. How will you be assessed? How long will you be in lectures? What links are there with industry? What accommodation is available? Ask when you would start  the Edge Hotel School has start dates in January, May and September.  

Getting the place
Make sure you check your emails as admissions staff may contact you following your call with useful information about open days and how long you have to decide.

Amber Clabburn  Clearing Adviser, Kaplan Holborn College

  
Amber Clabburn,
Kaplan Holborn College
Research before results day, just in case
It’s a good idea to plan and research courses in advance of results day. That way you will already have options if you find yourself in Clearing, which means less stress and panic on the day.

Research similar courses to the ones you’ve applied for. Remember to consider the ‘additional extras’ the course may offer, such as placements or professional qualification exemptions. Most important of all: check that you meet the basic entry requirements – though these are sometimes altered in Clearing.

Researching on results day
If you find yourself in Clearing, it is important that you effectively research courses and institutions – after all, you are investing two to four years of your life at university or college.

There are many things to consider, so try not to rush the search too much. Chances are you know roughly what you want to study, so look on ucas.com, institution websites and in the Telegraph to find institutions that have spaces in your chosen subject area. 

Be realistic when considering courses; ask yourself the basic questions e.g. Do you meet the entry criteria? Would you be interested in moving to or commuting to that location?

Questions for admissions tutors
Ask anything and everything, but stay calm. After all, it is the admissions tutor’s job to help you. And don’t worry if you think that you are asking something silly – chances are someone will have asked this before. Feel free to ask even the most seemingly insignificant questions if they help ease your concerns. Although Clearing is a busy period for any institution, the staff at the end of the phone will be pleased to help you. 

And finally...
Try not to rush your decision; whatever it may be. Speak to teachers, parents, friends – anyone who can give you advice from their own experience. If you make the most informed choice you can, it’s likely to be the right one for you.

Sophie Rowell – Admissions Co-ordinator, Nottingham Trent University 

Sophie Rowell,
Nottingham Trent University
  
Results day can be a daunting time, particularly if you don’t do as well as you’d hoped. If you don’t quite meet the conditions of the offers you hold, you can enter into the Clearing process. This is another chance to find a course of interest, now that you know your results. 

It’s beneficial for you to prepare for Clearing in advance of results day. Look at universities asking for slightly lower grades to do your course of choice, think about where you would like to live in the country, and have a think about which courses match your skills and interests. Some universities publish their Clearing vacancies early, and it doesn’t hurt to have a look at some courses which may be of interest. Parents and teachers may be able to suggest some universities that you hadn’t thought of previously, or courses that you hadn’t yet considered.

If you end up going through the Clearing process on results day, the most important thing is not to panic! There are plenty of spaces at universities up and down the UK, and it’s essential that you take your time to research the courses and universities thoroughly. Make sure that you call the Clearing hotline yourself, rather than getting someone else to call, and have your results and a pen and paper in front of you. Admissions agents are there to help you find a great place in Clearing, not to catch you out! 

We’ve put together some advice guides full of hints and tips to help you prepare for results day. From the ten golden rules for Clearing, to a step-by-step guide, we’ll talk you through what to expect on the day and how to approach the Clearing process. Go to www.ntu.ac.uk/clearing to find out more. 

Rebecca Heron – Student Recruitment Manager, Lancaster University 

  
Rebecca Heron, Lancaster University
If you think that you might be in Clearing, then the best thing you can do is prepare in advance! Even if there’s only a slim chance, it’s always best to have a contingency plan just in case you don’t do as well as you expected. 

First off, make a list of universities that you might consider – check that they offer your course, and look at the entry grades. You might want to revisit some of the universities that were in your original UCAS choices – you could always give them a call to see if they expect your specific course to be in Clearing.

Next, list your preferred universities in priority order – that way you'll know which to call first on results day. Most universities will open early to cope with demand - the most popular will receive thousands of calls for a limited number of places, so it’s a good idea to make a note of telephone numbers and opening times in advance, and call as soon as they open in order to beat the queues.

Don’t make the call without having done your research first – at least know whether the course is available and what the entry grades are. Your experience could differ greatly depending on the university – some may just run through your grades, whilst others may conduct a telephone interview, so be prepared for either. 

You’ll have to make a decision quite quickly, but you still need to make sure that it’s the right choice - whilst you’re on the phone ask about the modules that you’ll be studying, and find out if accommodation is guaranteed for Clearing students. 

Try to visit the university before you accept an offer – most will have visiting opportunities in the days following Clearing, so ask when you call.


Sarah Temlett & Lucy Dixon – Admisisions Support Unit, University of Sunderland

   
Our top tips for Clearing:
Sarah Temlett & Lucy Dixon,
University of Sunderland
Sarah: “Don’t be shy! Whoever you speak to will want to help you and provide advice tailored to your qualifications and the courses you’re interested in. Places may be limited so don’t be afraid to sell yourself and show your passion for your subject. A conversation with an Admissions Tutor may be an informal interview so have your personal statement to hand – you may want to reference it. If you’re not sure about an offer you’ve received, it’s OK to think it over and call the university back. Don’t take too long as places aren’t held indefinitely, but don’t feel you have to accept it there and then.”

Lucy: “Make sure your phone is charged and that you’re somewhere quiet – you may have to make several calls and you’ll have lots of information to take in. Have a pen and paper to write down the names and numbers of people you have spoken to, as well as any other information. Have a list of your qualifications and experience so university staff have the best chance of finding a course for you. Don’t forget  the university may want to know about your GCSE or equivalent qualifications too."

Questions to ask during Clearing:
Sarah: “If you don’t meet the requirements for a course or there are no places, ask what else is available. Other courses may have different requirements, so there may be a similar course or a foundation course you can get on to. If you ask about a course with professional accreditation, for example social work, always ask the Admissions Tutor how much experience you need to have." 

Lucy: “Ask about the availability, location and cost of accommodation. We have fantastic accommodation here at Sunderland, with great broadband speeds and at reasonable prices. Ask about any financial help that’s available, including bursaries and scholarships. There's more about the scholarship package at the University of Sunderland on our website."