And so it begins.
You’ve had a look around. Had a think. Had more of a think. Add on seventy five more years of thinking, and now you’re here. At this point. Starting your UCAS application.
First of all, don’t panic. As tempting as it is. Do. Not. Panic. You’re still not actually at the scary bit, believe it or not. There’s way more to come, don’t you worry.
In all seriousness, it’s okay. Even if you haven’t thought about all this as much as you think you should have, that’s okay. For now, you can just go with it and hope for the best.
The first step of this, really, would be to go to the UCAS website. But, to be honest, this you should already know. If you’re an A Level/Level 3 student currently (or equivalent, sorry Scotland) then your teachers will have been pushing that site down your throat for the past few months. So you know what it is. If you’re a person on a gap year/full-time work/whatever else, then you might not be as familiar with UCAS as you would like.
In the coming month(s), I will be providing you all with a Full Comprehensive UCAS Guide (although I’ll be naming it something different… that one wasn’t too catchy, was it?) so keep your eyes peeled for that. And don’t worry, it will absolutely be out way before the deadlines hit.
DISCLAIMER: If you are applying for medical-based courses, or to extremely prestigious universities such as Oxbridge, your deadlines might be sooner than you think! PLEASE go and inform yourself and get on your applications IMMEDIATELY if you haven’t already. DO NOT SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU.
Anyway, now that bit’s out the way, focusing back on us average lot, aiming for the not-so-clever courses (I’m kidding). For the rest of the average-Joe lot, you need to create a UCAS account. Right now. Immediately. So you don’t forget.
You’ll then be supplied with your UCAS login name (which will be randomly assigned to you) it will incorporate some aspect of your first and last names and then a number. DO NOT LOSE THIS. Nothing awful will happen, it’ll just be a bloody hassle to find your login again. And I’d recommend just using your same-old password for your UCAS (we all have them, don’t lie to me), and you’ll receive a confirmation email, yadda yadda yadda. Done? All finished? Awesome.
Now the only other thing I want you to do for now is to explore the Track portal. That’s the thing you come onto that has all the things for your application, looks a little something like this:
Rather than jumping right in and filling out every single thing you can at this given moment (which is what I did last year), just have a peruse, take a look at the types of info you need, what you know by heart, what you need to dig up, and what you need to work on. Maybe start making notes on each thing that you need to remember, e.g. get your passport out, ask your teachers about how their references work, etc.Trust me, as much as you want to go and get it all done as soon as humanly possible – or at least, the boring bits like your Personal Details – you cannot rush any of this. Take your time, and more importantly, Manage Your Time. You’ve got plenty of it.
Look out for more posts in the uni series coming very soon, and also look out for Sundays’s upcoming post, something a little different this time! Thanks for reading,
And we’re back again, with my (probably not at all) eagerly anticipated ‘Applying for University’ series.
At this point, you’ve been back at school for about a month now, and all your teachers are up your arse about getting your UCAS started. And trust me, there will be more posts about that process very soon. I will not leave you just as the hard bit starts, I promise!
My advice for this point in time, would be to create your UCAS logins. That’s it. Go onto the UCAS site, take a look around at all the articles (they’ll be a lot more helpful than mine, I guarantee you), and get your logins sorted. You don’t have to start the application process; you don’t even have to think about it yet. But definitely make use of the resources available to you. Every single piece of information you can get from sources like UCAS (you know, the legit ones) are invaluable, and can help you to the Nth degree. So that’s my first piece of advice.
But the actual purpose of this particular post was to give you some advice about open days. In my last Uni Series post, I told you to start researching potential unis that you might be interested in, using things like league tables and just taking a look at different University’s websites. From these sites you’ve probably seen a lot of adverts for open days.
Please go to open days.
Obviously, it’s not always possible. And if you’re looking to move to the other side of the country, then it might not be the most convenient option to just go gallivanting off (great word) for the week. So, try to go to as many open days as possible. And, as many are held on Saturdays (and a lot of people looking to attend University probably work on weekends) try and work around your own schedule. Some unis offer ‘Guided Tours’, which aren’t open days necessarily, but are times during the week that you can visit and have a look around on your own, whenever you’re free.
Try to go to open days that you feel you really want to get a feel of. Some unis have Virtual Tours on their websites, or live webinars you can watch, as well as YouTube videos about the uni, so if there is really no way to get there, you can still get a sense of the place through these.
It’s really just about your own personal preference, whether you want to go and be surrounded by hundreds of other people in the same boat, or if you’re more nervous in these situations, then trying to find a way to take a look of a school that fits best for you.
However, the only reason I recommend going to Open Days above all else, is that they are simply the best way to see how life works around that particular place. And, when you’re at these open days, here are some of the main factors that you should be looking out for:
- The atmosphere/location of the Uni. Is it city-based? Or a bit more quiet? Does that suit your lifestyle/personality?
- What are the students like (and not just the student ambassadors that show you around, because they’re being paid to be there, but try striking up conversation with any random student you see, they’ll give you a real answer).
- What are the staff like? Do you think you’d get on?
- Do the facilities available look of a high standard for your chosen course? (Especially if you’re doing a science, media or sports-based degree)
- Does the course look interesting, and suitable for you?
- What is the accommodation like? Does the uni offer different types of accommodation, that would suit you more than halls, for example student houses for first years, or single-occupancy studio flats?
- What is the current level of student satisfaction? (Can also be found online here)
- Transportation allowances: are you allowed to take your car? Is there a free student bus service? Is everything close together or will you need to find a way around?)
- Are there nearby places that you could find a part-time job, if you are planning on looking for one?
- If you have specific dietary/lifestyle/disability/religious requirements, are your needs met by the university if requested?
Alternatively, possibly an even better way to check out a school, would be to stay there for a day or two, with someone who actually goes there. Last year, when I was looking at Universities, I considered going to Brighton. A few weeks earlier, one of my cousins had started at that Uni to study Aeronautical Engineering. I mean, it was absolutely not what I wanted to study, so he couldn’t really help me there, but I got to go to his shared house, meet some of his friends, check out the area, and see what student life is like on a quiet night (because we all know what it’s like on a messy one). Then the next day I went on a guided tour, got to see the facilities, and meet staff and students.
Unfortunately, (obviously), I didn’t end up having the best time at the open day, and Brighton didn’t end up being one of my final choices. However, that experience was unbeatable, and really gave me the best chance to look around, in a way that wasn’t just student ambassadors shoving me around and staff giving me weird smiles to try and get me to attend. I got to see what life there is like through an actual student’s perspective. Which was really cool.
Obviously, this whole thing is bloody scary. It’s absolutely freaking terrifying, and I understand. But taking it one step at a time is the best thing to do at this point. Try not to overthink it, because there’s probably a lot going on at school and stuff at the minute, and I promise it will all be fine!
Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it…
Thanks for reading, and look forward to the next post in this series (hopefully) next week!