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Step One: Decision Making

When it comes to choosing what to study, people are motivated by many different factors. Some lucky folk have always known exactly what they want to do in order to get into a particular profession.  Others may want to study a subject they are passionate about, or something they have always done well in at school. And many, many people will change their minds more than a few times during this process!

Everyone is different and there is no right or wrong answer here.  So, do your research:  talk to people whose jobs interest you, talk to people who are university already (if you don’t know anyone, you can chat online to our current students), and use the resources available at your school or college.

Once you have an idea about what you want to study, you need to think about where you might want to go to university. There are more than 300 universities in the UK so here are a few tips to help you narrow down your search:

  • Where can you study your chosen subject? Have a look at the modules they offer and don’t forget to check that you’ll meet the entry requirements.
  • Do you want to be in a big city, or on an out-of-town campus?   Close to home, or as far away as possible? Make a list of pros and cons for each location to work out what’s important to you.
  • We’d usually be telling you to visit as many universities as possible at this stage but that’s just not possible this year. Most universities will be holding Virtual Open Days, so sign up for these. They might not be quite the same as being on campus for yourself, but at least you don’t have to worry about bad weather or missing the train!  Make a list of questions before each Virtual Open Day and you can compare answers from different universities.

At our Virtual Open Days, you’ll be able to chat to our Admissions staff about your application, so don’t miss the chance to get expert advice!

Step Two: Completing your Application

The official UCAS deadline is 15th January 2021 but your school or college is likely to set you a deadline a long time before this so that they can help you check the application and provide a reference. What we’re saying is; don’t put it off! As soon as you’ve registered with UCAS you can make a start on the application.  Any changes you make will be saved and you can edit it as many times as you like before you submit it.

The Personal Statement is the thing that will take the time. We know it can be pretty daunting so take a look at our tips on writing the perfect personal statement.

Step Three – Accepting your Offers

If all goes well, you should start receiving responses from your chosen universities from January onwards, with most offers being made in February and March. Keep an eye on UCAS Track as this will update every time a university responds to you, and you will also be given deadlines by which you’ll need to respond to the offers.

If you don’t yet know your firms from your insurances, here’s a handy guide to the key terms you will come across:  

Firm – this is your first choice. The university and course you really want!

Insurance – think of this as your second or back-up choice. It’s a good idea to choose a course with slightly lower entry requirements in case your results don’t go as well as expected. But make sure that it’s still a university that you would be happy to go to.

Conditional – this means that your place at the university depends on the outcomes of your exams/qualification.

Unconditional – this mean that the place is yours no matter what! Unconditional offers are usually only made to people who already have their Level 3 (e.g. A Levels/BTEC Extended) qualifications.

Step Four – Preparation and Results Day

FinanceStudent Finance applications open across the UK in February and we advise that you apply as soon as possible. This is separate to your UCAS application.  Sign up for our updates and we’ll let you know when all the important deadlines are looming!

Accommodation - you won’t be able to confirm your accommodation until after results day but you should apply for accommodation at your Firm and Insurance choice universities. 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 – we know that you don’t want to think about this just yet! For now, all you need to know is that if you get the grades you need, your university place will usually be confirmed within a couple of hours of receiving your results. Job done!  If things haven’t quite gone to plan, you can be released into Clearing, a system that allows potential students to apply directly to universities.

Want more advice from our experts?

If you want more tips and advice about writing your university application, join our Virtual Open Day. Staff from our Admissions team will be on hand to advise applicants at every event and you'll be able to watch our presentation all about making your UCAS application:

  • Saturday, 10th October
  • Saturday, 7th November
  • Saturday, 5th December 

We are also holding a series of online events in October to help you learn about the fundamentals of the UCAS process and to support you in preparing your university applications:

  • Wednesday, 7th October, 16:00 – 18:00
    This session will include a ‘strengths finder’ workshop, an interactive talk where you will learn about the terminology used across Higher Education, and an online scavenger hunt / relay game aimed at developing your research skills.
  • Saturday, 10th October, 10:00 – 15:00
    You will be given a task to complete using resources available at our Virtual Open Day (you will not be expected to attend for the whole day, it is anticipated that the task/attendance at the open day can be completed in around 2/3 hours).
  • Wednesday 14th October, 16:00 – 18:00
    This session will include an Introduction to UCAS talk, an Open Day task follow up and a personal statement workshop.

You can register your interest for these online sessions here.

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