UCAS course reminder: Helpful tips

We all know how quickly time flies. One minute you are just starting Year 13, getting ready to see your friends and continue your studies. Then, before you know it, Christmas has been and gone and the dreaded UCAS deadline is looming on the horizon. Before you let ‘the fear’ set in, here are some useful tips, as well as some general advice to help you navigate the complicated world of UCAS applications. Whatever stage you are at along the process, whether you are just starting your personal statement or making the finishing touches to draft number 33 – make yourself a cup of tea, take a breath and read some of my (hopefully) helpful tips.


  1. Don’t panic!

I know, that’s easier said than done but when it comes to UCAS applications, cooler heads really do prevail. Whatever stage you are at along the process, you probably have more options than you think! By researching all these options, you will be better prepared for any eventuality. Besides, anything is better than endlessly refreshing the UCAS Hub!


  1. Deadline? What deadline?

I am sure the date 25th January has been seared into your minds for the past few months but what does that dreaded deadline actually mean? Well, the UCAS deadline isn’t the same as the deadlines you may have for your school coursework. This deadline is known as an ‘equal consideration deadline’. What this means is that any applications received before 25th January will be considered before any places are awarded. After this date, universities will begin giving out offers to applicants who they want on their courses. You have the best chance of getting an offer at your dream university if you submit before this ‘deadline’ so I definitely recommend getting it in before then if you CAN.

But what if you can’t submit before the 25th Jan? What if you haven’t even started or are not even sure if you definitely want to go to University yet? Is it still too late to apply? The answer is no! This is because many university courses have available places even after the 25th of Jan deadline. You can actually apply for these courses, through UCAS, right the way up to the 30th June. Now… it can be a bit of a lottery of what will or won’t be available but you may be surprised at the number of courses typically on-offer. My advice would be to contact the university first before submitting an application – a helpful person in the university’s recruitment team will be able to let you know which courses still have places and if you meet the requirements to apply.


  1. So you have submitted your application… now what?

Once you have submitted the application, the waiting game begins. It could be days, weeks or even months before you hear back from the universities you have applied for. You will be notified by email when there is a change to your application status so resist the urge to keep refreshing UCAS Hub. Instead use this time to research the alternative routes to securing a university place. With any luck you won’t need them but it can give you peace of mind to have a backup plan… just in case things don’t go to plan. What are these alternative routes I hear you ask? Read the next 3 tips to find out!


  1. Brush up on ‘Clearing’

Clearing is how universities fill any remaining available places on their courses. If you have already got your application in, it can be a great back-up plan just in case things don’t go to plan on results day. Here’s the basics of clearing: you can only apply through clearing if you have no offers or if you rejected all of the offers you did receive. Once you are in clearing, you can apply for any courses that still have places. You will need to call the university before applying where they will guide you through the process. Courses can be snapped up quickly, especially on results day, so I would recommend having a few universities in mind with their numbers jotted down ready (just in case!). There is a lot more to clearing so definitely visit the UCAS guide to clearing here for more information


  1. To defer or not to defer?

Deferring your university placement means pushing your start date to the next academic year. This essentially means you will have a year in between finishing school and starting university called a gap year. This is something some students consider if they have missed the deadline to apply through UCAS. Ultimately it is your decision if you would like to take a gap year or not but you will definitely consider how you want to use that time.


If you are planning on taking a gap year, I would still recommend applying this year as you can always defer your place after you have received an offer. This means you can be certain you have a place waiting for you after your gap year (please note that this place will only last a year, after that you would have to apply again). For more information on gap years, click here.


  1. Degree Apprenticeships.

Okay, we are talking about UCAS here so why am I bringing up apprenticeships? Well, that’s because you can apply for apprenticeships AS WELL AS courses through UCAS. There is nothing from stopping you from applying for as many degree apprenticeships as you would like, in addition to your 5 UCAS choices. Again, this might be a good back up plan or a good way of keeping your options open. Applying for degree apprenticeships is a lot like applying for a job and they are advertised throughout the whole year. For more information on degree apprenticeships visit the degree apprenticeship guide on the UCAS website here.


We really hope that this small guide has shown you that you actually have more options than you think! We know that navigating the UCAS process can be overwhelming but you have to remember that universities do actually WANT you to study with them! There are more universities, courses and pathways than ever before which is a good thing for you as it means there are more options to study a course you love at your dream university!