Writing an application for university can be a stressful experience. There are a range of different components which make up your application and finding the time to get all of them done can be challenging. Especially when you are worrying about exams at the same time! However, you do need to make sure that your UCAS application is completed in good time. This is because there is a deadline and this deadline will come much sooner than you think!
For courses starting in 2023, the deadline was 25th January 2023 for most courses and 15th October 2022 for medicine and veterinary. The University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge also have the deadline of the 15th October 2022. For courses starting in 2024, the UCAS application deadline for the majority of courses is the 31st January 2024. For Oxbridge, medicine and veterinary courses the deadline is the 16th October 2023. The application has to be submitted before 18:00 in order to be considered. You can find more information on the UCAS website, by clicking this link.
These dates may seem a long way off at the moment. However, they will soon creep up on you! You must be prepared. This article will hopefully answer all of the questions you may have about university applications so that you will be ready, when the time comes.
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How do you apply to university via UCAS?
You need to be aware that you can only apply once in a cycle. This means that you are unable to create different applications for different universities. Therefore, you need to make sure that your application is the best that it can be, so that you don’t get rejected and have to wait for the next cycle.
Applying is easy using the UCAS website, here are the steps you need to take:
Step 1 – Your first step is to register with UCAS. Hopefully, your school will help you set up an account and teach you how to navigate around the site. If they don’t do this, don’t worry! It is extremely easy to do.
Step 2 – After you have registered, you will be asked to give all of your details. These include questions about your personal circumstances and about your national identity.
Step 3 – The next step is outlining all of your current qualifications, including your GCSE and A-level grades.
Step 4 – You will then have to fill out your employment history, if you have any.
Step 5 – Select your course choices and your universities.
Step 6 – The last thing you have to worry about is writing your personal statement, which is arguably the most important part of your application. The purpose of your personal statement is to tell the university why you would be the best student for the course. For more information about personal statements, read this article on Think Student.
Step 7 – Finally, you need a reference, which a teacher or tutor should provide. After paying a fee, you can submit your application! Check out this link on the UCAS website if you want to find out more.
When should you apply to university?
Usually, you are able to start submitting your application in September. However, the dates in this month vary each year. For 2024 entry, applications can be submitted from the 5th of September 2023. More information about this can be found on the UCAS website.
It is always best to make sure your application is finished early, so that you can submit it by the deadline. These dates are highlighted at the start of the article. However, you may end up missing the deadline if you are disorganised or a personal situation prevents you from filling it out in time. Don’t worry! Some courses have a later deadline.
If you miss the deadline it is possible to get a place at university via ‘clearing’. However, this is quite different, as you won’t be able to choose courses. Clearing is the method that universities use to fill in free places they still have on their courses. To find out more information about this, visit this page on the UCAS website about clearing.
It is always best to submit your application by the deadline, so that you will get to join the courses that you most want to. University places are very competitive but luckily, you can apply to five different courses at a time! Check out this Think Student article to learn more.
How long does it take to hear back from a UCAS application?
You need to be aware that sometimes universities can take a very long time to get back to you! They have to plough through thousands of different applications, so it’s understandable that this will take some time. How long it takes to hear back depends on each individual university and course.
It can sometimes depend on when you sent your application off. If you submitted it before the deadline, you are most likely to hear back more quickly, compared to someone who sent theirs in June.
In 2022 and 2023, applicants usually heard back from universities in May, if they had applied in January. The dates are normally similar each year. The specific dates are often given in this blog by The Uni Guide.
However, some universities take a different approach to applications. For example, the University of Cambridge actually only accepts applicants after they have had their interviews. This means you will hear if you have gotten a place at Cambridge even later than other university applicants. To find out more about Cambridge offers check out this Think Student article.
Waiting to hear back can be a stressful experience, as most applicants can be terrified of failure. If you do get rejected, you can always reapply again on the next cycle. Check out this Think Student article to learn more.
What happens after you have applied to university?
It’s easy to sit back and relax after you have submitted your application, thinking that you don’t have to do anything else after the deadline. However, this is not the right mindset! There are plenty of things you can do.
For example, you could start preparing for interviews. Some universities only make decisions about applicants after they have interviewed you. Therefore, it’s imperative that you polish up your skills. Check out this article on Think Student for some interview tips. You could always prepare yourself for student life too, by buying clothes and practising living on a budget.
If you are afraid that you won’t get into any of the five universities or courses you have chosen, then research different courses that you could apply for. If you do get rejected from all five, UCAS offers a tool called Extra. This allows you to add another course, after the five you have already chosen, allowing you to apply again. However, you can only use this tool if you have been rejected from all of your other choices. More information about Extra can be found on the UCAS website, by clicking this link.
You also need to prepare for the opposite of this scenario – if you get accepted into all courses that you applied for! You must research which course you think will be the best for you and reject the others. To do this, you need to log into your UCAS track account and simply press the decline button. You can do this even if you have already accepted their offer. For more information on declining offers from Think Student, click here.
As you can see, choosing a university and course, applying and waiting for a response can be a stressful experience. However, knowing the key dates and deadlines should help you prepare as best as possible. Good luck!