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It's been quite a year for the Class of 2021 and if you’re supporting someone who’s applying to university, you’ll know that it’s just one of the many things they’re juggling right now. You want to support them, but you might not always know the best way to do this, so we’re here to help with our Twelve Days of Christmas Action Plan. Tick off one of our action points every day and you’ll be ready for the 15th January UCAS deadline with time to spare.

Stage One – Get the Basics in Place

For the first few days, focus on making sure that they know what they want - and where they can find help if they don't. If you've already got this covered, you can focus on finishing off the Christmas chocolates and skip ahead to day four!

Day 1 - What course should they do? 

Even if they know the subject area they're interested in, there are a lot of options out there! Do some research together - university course pages are a good place to start, and at Chester, you can even chat to academic staff online to ask for more information and advice.  Our video guide to writing a UCAS application also has some helpful tips to get you started.

Day 2 - Where should they go?

Live in or live at home? Campus or city? It might help to hear from people who made these decisions recently. Review sites like WhatUni can be really helpful, and The Student Room has great forums that can be really useful (even for parents!). Check out our blog as well for stories from a variety of students who all chose Chester for different reasons. 

Day 3 – Do the research

If there’s one small positive to come out of 2020, it’s that universities have made it much easier to get a real feel for student life without leaving your house. Virtual Campus Tours  give a great overview of teaching facilities and a valuable insight into the student experience at your shortlisted universities.

Stage Two – Reassure Yourself!

From online lectures to lockdowns in halls of residence, universities have featured almost daily in the media this year, but it’s important to find your own answers to the questions and concerns you may have. So, over the next few days, leave them to research unis and courses, and you concentrate on reassuring yourself.

Day 4 - What do other parents say?

After the last few months, nobody would blame you if you're nervous about sending someone you love off to university so it can be good to hear from parents in the same boat as you. Have a read of this blog from the parent of a first year - it’s a really positive and reassuring account of their experience in 2020. 

Day 5 - Unsure about online learning?

Online learning has had a bad press but there are some real positives to a blended approach to learning. Find out what online learning might mean to your teen, and encourage them to watch a few sample lectures (it might even help with mock exam revision!) 

Day 6 - Book on to an advice and guidance event

On two dates in January, experts from the University of Chester are holding an event for everyone (whether you’re applying here or not) to answer questions about admissions, student support, finance, accommodation and more. We’re running the event twice so pick the date that suits you! You can sign up to the event on 7th January here and the 21st January here – they’re free, open to everyone and will be run virtually from 4pm – 5.30pm.

Stage Three – Get Organised

There’s a lot to keep Track of (see what we did there?!) so here are a few tips to help make sure that you’re not missing any of the important deadlines. 

Day 7 – UCAS Track

All applications are made through UCAS and UCAS Track is their website for tracking offers and possible interview invitations. Why not ask if you can have a look for yourself so you can get familiar with what they’re looking at? It’s important to get in the habit of logging in regularly; our Guide to Applying for University has some useful tips that might help, and it lists some of the key deadlines you’ll need to be aware of. 

Day 8 – The Personal Statement

Personal statement – two words that are enough to strike fear into many teenagers! Hopefully they are well on their way to having their personal statement finished by now, but it’s worth double checking their progress.  If they still have some work to do, get them to check out our easy-to-follow guide to writing the perfect personal statement.  

Day 9 – Get a calendar!

The UCAS deadline on 15th January is just the first of many that you’ll need to keep tabs on so we recommend getting a family calendar – and using it! This is particularly important if they’re not naturally organised; there will be offer reply deadlines to adhere to, and every university will have different deadlines for accommodation applications.  When things are (fingers crossed) a bit more normal, universities will be holding on-campus events so you’ll want to make a note of those dates too. Calendars are cheap in the sales in January so there’s no excuse!

Stage Four – The Final Steps

Day 10 – Chat to others

They should have their final five choices by now so encourage them to find out more about what it’s really like to be a student at their short-listed unis. At the University of Chester, they can chat to our current students online (they’re always helpful – and honest!).

Day 11 – Check and check again

It’s a good idea to encourage them to check through their application and their personal statement to make any last-minute changes and check for typos – and ask if you can do the same. Two pairs of eyes are better than one!  They will need to make sure that their reference is written so make sure they check at school or college as soon as term starts again.

Day 12 – Take a trip (you both deserve it)

Phew! You’ve done well to get this far so why not treat yourselves to a day out (local restrictions permitting)?  If you’re not too far away, Chester is a beautiful place to spend a day – walk off your Christmas excess around the Roman Walls, pay a visit to our world-famous zoo, or just enjoy a coffee at one of our many independent cafes. You’ll soon see why so many students are happy to call Chester home during their university years.

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undergraduate Parents and Carers