Choose your course and institution carefully
In the choices section of Apply (the UCAS application website) all your university/college choices (a maximum of five) are to be listed, but remember that you should not mix your subjects. For example, in popular subject areas such as English, History or Physiotherapy, it is safer to show total commitment by applying for all courses in the same subject and not to include second and/or third subject alternatives on the form.
Some courses are very popular. In principle, institutions want the best applicants available so if there are large numbers of applicants the offers made will be higher. For Medicine and a number of other courses, offers in terms of A-level grades are now reaching AAA or A* grades, and sometimes with additional grades at AS, where school policy does not limit your opportunity to take AS subjects (in which case alternative A-level offers may be given). Conversely, for the less popular subjects, the offers can be much lower – down to CCC.
Similarly, some institutions are more popular (not necessarily better) than others: the higher the offer, the more popular the institution. Popular universities often are located in attractive towns or cities such as Bristol, Exeter, Warwick, Bath or York. Because of the intense competition for places at the popular universities, applications to five of them could result in rejections from all of them! (If you are not good enough for one of them you won’t be good enough for the other four!) Spread your choice of institutions.
When you have chosen your courses and your institutions, look again at the offers made and compare these with the grades projected by your teachers. It is most important to maximise your chances of a place by choosing institutions which might make you a range of offers. When all universities have considered your application you can hold only two offers (one firm and one insurance offer) and naturally it is preferable for one to be lower than the other in case you do not achieve the offer grades or equivalent points for your first choice of university or college.
Recap – top tips for students
- Show commitment to your subject – don’t mix your course applications
- Spread your choice of institutions – don’t just pick the most popular locations
- Review your offers against your predicted grades – make sure you have a good range for unexpected results
Information from HEAP 2019 The essential guide to winning your place at university
By: Brian Heap
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