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Your Guide to UCAS: Undergraduate Degrees

So, you’re thinking of going to university?  

With so much choice on offer, finding courses that sound good is easy, but narrowing it down can be hard. Team that with UCAS applications and personal statements and you might not even know where to start. 

To help you master the process, we’re going to take you through it step by step. On the face of it, it might seem unfamiliar, but it’s not massively different from applying to jobs!  

Here goes… 

  1. Choosing a course 

You can start window-shopping for courses right away on the UCAS website.  

We recommend taking a look as soon as you can to give you an idea of what’s out there… trust us, there’s more than you might expect (Cake Technology Management, anyone?)!  

Have a think about subjects you’ve liked in the past, your hobbies, how you learn best and where in the country (or world!) you’d like to study. This can help narrow your options and give you an idea of something you’d enjoy learning.  

Many universities offer Joint Honours Degrees which combine two subjects that make up a single qualification – a great option for the indecisive or those that want degree-level knowledge in two different subjects.  

By exploring early, you can get a pretty good picture of what exam results you need to score to get into your uni of choice. Saying that, if you haven’t got the results you hoped for, it’s certainly doesn’t have to put a stop to your uni adventure!  

Top Tip: Deep dive into courses that interest you – read the syllabus, visit their website, campus or online open days. 

  1. Entry Requirements 

‘What are entry requirements?’ I hear you ask! These are sometimes shown as grades or UCAS points and show what the university would want you to bring to the table to secure a place.  

If you’d like to see how your qualifications translate into points, you can visit UCAS’ calculator here.

However, grades are not everything. If you can show you have relevant experience and skills, you may still be considered. Many universities also take your suitability and personal statement into account. Some courses ask you to complete a test or interview, but this is the exception rather than the rule. 

  1. When to apply 

If you’re still in education, the best way to figure out when to apply is to ask your school or college. They’ll need time to review it and provide a reference, so are likely to have a timeline ready for you. 

Generally, the really prestigious universities (think Oxford and Cambridge) have an October deadline for admission the next year, but most others will have a deadline in January. Don’t take our word for it though, it’s always worth double checking! 

If you miss the main deadline, you can still apply for many courses, although it’s worth approaching uni’s to see if they have spaces. The final deadline in most cases is late June; after this you’ll be entered into ‘Clearing’. 

Top Tip: You can apply for as many apprenticeships and jobs as you like, on top of your university applications if you want to keep your options open! 

  1. How to apply 

Applications for university are sent off by creating an account on the UCAS website and following the process they set out for you (you don’t have to complete it all in one go!). 

UCAS explains that the admission teams will be looking for: 

  • Qualifications 
  • A personal statement that shows off why you want to study your subject, what skills you have to help you succeed and what experiences you have that make you a good fit  
  • A reference 
  • Knowledge of, and commitment to, the subject area 
  • Good attitude to learning and personal development
  • Ability to articulate yourself fluently and accurately in writing  

To give them the information they need, your application will ask for: 

  • Your details and contact information 
  • Income information for student finance 
  • Your course choices
  • Education and employment history 
  • A personal statement 
  • A reference 
  • Your application fee  
  1. Personal Statement 

In some ways, a personal statement is like a cover letter. You need to explain why you want the opportunity, why you should be picked and demonstrate the skills and experience you have that make you right for the position. 

A personal statement supports your application to study at a university or college and is a great chance to sell yourself. If you’ve just missed out on the grades you need, this can be an opportunity to turn it around! 

Writing about yourself is always a challenge but it’s a good excuse to humble brag about what makes you the right choice for the course.  

  1. And finally.. 

You don’t have to do it alone. Seek help from your school, college and, of course, YES.  

We’re here to help you navigate applications, decide on what you want to do and help you develop the tools you need to get where you want to go! 

You can book an appointment to speak to us here