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Now: Decision Making

Choosing a Subject/Course

The lucky ones amongst you may have a clear idea of your career path, and the degree that you need to pursue it. For those of you who are less sure, think carefully about why you want to go to university, as this will help you to decide what to study.

Those wishing to study for a ‘profession’ such as law, medicine or teaching must complete specific degrees to qualify, so make sure you know what is required of you. If you’re interested in a subject that requires very specific resources, you may find that your university choices are limited to a few specialist centres. You might also wish to study a subject purely because you have fallen in love with it, in which case you need to research what each course involves carefully to ensure that you are able to pursue your passion fully. Researching ‘job families’ should help you to discover new subjects that relate to your current studies, as well as potential career pathways.

Choosing a University

There are over 300 universities in the UK, but there are a few simple ways to narrow down the search:

  • Find out which universities offer your chosen subject and will accept your predicted grades
  • Make a wish-list about your location; do you want to be in a large or small city, on or off campus, and are there specific facilities you need access to; this could cover anything from being close to a train station to choosing a city with a river because you enjoy rowing
  • Every university has different equipment and facilities, make sure you visit as many as possibly to see what resources they have to offer you

October and November is definitely the time go to some Open Days to help you with your research and hone your shortlist. You can check out the details for our upcoming Open Days at

October/November: Completing Your Application

If you’re applying for 2019 entry, your school or college may have already asked you to register with UCAS. Once you have done so, you can edit and add information to your UCAS application at any time, until you’re ready to submit it. You may also have been given a deadline for your personal statement and application as a whole.

The information that UCAS requires is clearly listed and includes personal details such as name/address along with a short history of your education/employment and which universities you would like to apply to. If you’re unsure of how to answer any of the sections, let your tutor or UCAS know.

Your personal statement allows you to tell the universities a little more about yourself, why you want to study your chosen subject and why you are ready to study at university. As well as the support from your school or college, there is lots of information online about writing a strong personal statement, and don’t forget to look out for our upcoming blog post.

During the application process you will be asked to list your choices in order of preference (UCAS call this ‘offer preferencing’), which just means listing the courses you are applying for in order of preference – so the one at the top of your list is the one you would most like to go to.

It’s essential that you meet any deadlines for UCAS applications set by your school or college as tutors have to check them and provide a reference before they can be sent off. The formal deadline might be January 15th, but in reality most students have their applications finished much earlier.

January-May: Accepting Offers - Firm and Insurance Choices

Depending on when you submit your application, universities will respond anytime between December and May (courses such as Medicine that use early entry may respond earlier), with most offers made between February and March. These offers will appear on your UCAS profile, and once you have received them all, you will be given a deadline to ‘accept’ or ‘decline’ them.

Here are a few key terms to help you understand receiving and accepting offers:

Firm: Your first choice

Insurance: Your second or ‘back-up’ choice. It’s recommended that you choose a course with slightly lower entry requirements for your Insurance option, but it should still be a course and university that meet your requirements and you would feel happy attending

Conditional: An offer that depends on the outcome of your upcoming exams/qualification – the university is offering you a place on the condition that you attain certain grades

Unconditional: Usually offered to those that already have their Level 3 (e.g. A Levels/BTEC Extended) qualifications or those with an exceptional application that meets specific criteria

Student Finance operates separately to UCAS, and it’s worth noting that applications across the UK open in early February, so make sure you apply for your Tuition Fees and Maintenance Loans as soon as possible, as the deadline is in May. Again, we’ll post more information about this nearer the time so don’t panic about this yet!

May –September: Preparation, Results Day and Enrolment

Once you have accepted your offers and completed your finance application, it’s likely you’ll be focusing on your exams, but there are a few final things to be aware of:

Accommodation: most universities don’t confirm your accommodation until after results day, but do require you to apply once you have them listed as a Firm or Insurance choice.  Make sure you know what the accommodation application deadlines are – every university is different! At the University of Chester, we will contact everyone who receives an offer from us to let you know the arrangements for accommodation applications.

Results Day: your results are shared with UCAS on the same day that you receive them. If everything goes to plan, you should receive confirmation of your place within a few hours. If not, always contact your chosen university by phone to see if you have been accepted. If you are not accepted by your chosen university or your Insurance choice, you can be released into Clearing, a system that allows potential students to apply directly to universities.

Enrolment: once your place is secured, you’ll receive details about your course, accommodation (if you’ve chosen to apply for it) and Welcome (or Fresher’s) Week – and you’re good to go!

Find Out More

There’s lots of useful information about applying to university, student finance and accommodation on the Undergraduate Study section on our website.

Visit Us

At our forthcoming Open Days we’ll have Admissions advisors on hand to answer any queries you have about the application process. Open Days are a great opportunity to find out about our courses and what it’s really like to be a student at Chester – head to to find out more and book your place.

Book Your Open Day


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