Being seventeen and on the verge of entering the realms of adult life is scary. Right now, us young adults have so much to contend with, whether it be at sixth form/college, or in our personal lives with relationships and peer pressure mounting up. Yet the most important thing to me at the moment is applying for university, which is proving stressful and difficult to say the least!
UCAS is a brilliant middle-man to apply to university by. However, deadlines are not clear and the innate details you have to include are so in depth, you half expect you have to put your great great grandmother's cat's name on the 'additional information' section! So why do we get so stressed over this seemingly simple yet important step? Well:
-Your personal statement is so very important (they make out), yet by speaking to current uni students, many say they were told by uni admissions tutors that they don't take your statement into account if you get the required grades without struggle, so that's many of us writing an award winning statement for no apparent reason. However, it outlines your personal qualities and lets the admissions tutors know who you are, what you do and why you would be the perfect candidate for a place on your chosen course.
-Deciding on choices for uni: If you are/were like myself, you would have chosen to stay relatively close(ish) to home, maybe venturing out a little further than preferred because of course choice. But you can choose up to five universities, which is mightily generous considering that some courses are limited and are only active in certain universities. I don't think I could be away from my parents for long periods of time, so going from the luscious lands of Devon to chilly climes in Glasgow wouldn't be the most sensible option would it? Also, Open days are a huge part in choosing your uni of choice! If you want to travel further afield, then getting to these open days can be a problem, so choose your university wisely and you should, with a bit of luck, be able to get there.
-Grade requirements: This is the bit that myself and thousands of other students are struggling with right this very moment. A lot of courses today require UCAS points rather than actual grades, yet the points are all equivalent and based on what grades you do actually get, so don't fall into the trap of not getting great grades and thinking 'I'll get it on UCAS points', because it doesn't, and can't work on that. You need to get the grades, to get the place. Simple as that. Obviously thing's such as the Extended Project can help as you can get up to about 80 UCAS points on that, equivalent to an A at AS Level (Don't quote me on that!), so you can boost your
points if you stuffed up your AS level exams like I did!
All this talk about points, grades, open days, and applications takes up a lot of time, so you have to manage your time wisely and don't get behind or else you'll end up with a rubbish personal statement and half of your educational history will be missing from your application! I have the pleasure of sending my application off now, receiving some offers (hopefully!), finding accommodation and a student loan/grant/bursary, and then maybe even actually getting the grades and points to get in! Happy days. Just don't forget that it isn't the end of the world if you don't get in, apply again next year and re-do exams, it will be worth it in the end. :)