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So, you’ve decided that university is the right ‘next step’ for you. You’ve attended virtual open days and spoken to staff and students at a number of different universities, but have you sorted your UCAS application? Whilst you still have plenty of time before the UCAS deadline (15th January), we’d recommend trying to submit your university application before Christmas, to take away the pressure and give yourself a well-deserved break with family and friends, especially after this year! We know that you’re probably juggling lots of other things right now - that’s why we’ve put together a checklist of all the things you need to do, to help simplify the process for you.

Register with UCAS.

We’re hoping that you’ve already registered with UCAS by now, but if not, don’t worry. Once you’ve registered you’ll need to go through and fill in each section (some advice from UCAS can be found here). You’ll need to include things like your education history and qualifications. You can still register even if you haven’t decided on where or what you want to study and you don’t need to complete your application all in one go, so there are no excuses not to get started (you know what they say, the sooner you start, the sooner you finish).

Submit your university choices on UCAS.

Once you’ve narrowed down your university choices, you’ll need to submit them on UCAS. You can apply to up to five universities, and if you can, we’d recommend applying to five to give yourself plenty of options. You won’t be asked to submit your choices in order of preference (that comes later) and the universities won’t be able to see where else you’ve applied until you reply to your offers. You’ll need to submit your university choices in the ‘Choices’ section of the application and for each one, you’ll need to ‘add a choice’ and select the university, the course you want to apply for and when you’d like to start.

Write your personal statement.

You may have been putting off this part of your application because it’s the most important – we get that it can be a bit daunting. But remember, no one knows you better than yourself, and this is your chance to tell universities why you should be at their institution. But, where to start? We’d recommend making a list of all the things you want to include and organising this list into headings to help you structure your personal statement (it’ll also help you to stick within the word limit!). Some top tips on what to include in your personal statement are discussed in this video. If you’re applying through your school or college, you might also want to discuss what you’d like to include with your school or college tutors.

Get a Reference.

You’ll need to get a reference before you can send off your application to your chosen universities. So, what is a reference and how to you get one? For the purpose of your UCAS application, a reference is a written recommendation from someone who knows you from an academic perspective. That person will need to be able to talk about your work, how you interact with your peers and your suitability for your chosen course.

If you’re applying through your school or college, you won’t need to request a reference; a teacher or tutor will write this for you and attach it to your application (you won’t have access to this so you won’t need to do anything for it). Before the reference section is completed, make sure you have completed all of the other sections (including the pay and send section) so that your tutor can review your application and send it to UCAS. And that’s you sorted!

If you’re applying independently, getting a reference works a little differently. First step, you’ll need to choose somebody to be your referee; this person needs to know you really well, perhaps a tutor at a previous school or college, or an employer (not a family member or friend). Next, you’ll need to get in contact with them and check that they’re happy to provide you with a reference. If they’re happy to do so, you’ll need to update their details on your application so that UCAS can get in touch with them for your reference (how you do this will differ depending on who you’ve chosen as your referee). You can find more information about updating your application with your referee details here.

Submit your application.

If you’re completing your application independently, make sure you’ve completed all of the sections and paid the application fee to UCAS. You can then submit your application. And that’s it! Done! It’s time to put your feet up and enjoy Christmas.

If you have any questions about the application process, or about student life at Chester, book on to our Advice and Guidance Q&A on 7th January or our Meet our Students event on 12th January. They’re free to attend and are open to everyone!

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