Let’s kickstart the UCAS Process successfully by looking at 3 questions that every parent needs to ask about applying to university through UCAS. These questions will help you to guide and steer your child successfully through the UCAS Process to help them gain the confidence needed to tackle university head on via a irresistible application.
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Why go to university?
The UK is safe and stable with a long history of university education dating back to the15th Century. There are more than 140 universities of all types and there really is something for everyone. With the cost of tuition fees and ever-expanding alternatives to UK university (university in the USA or EU), as well as apprenticeships or other direct employment schemes, the first question to ask is why go to university at all? University is a great choice because your son or daughter will be immersed in an academic or vocational subject, and they will have access to world class facilities and technology. Universities have great links with industry which feeds into graduate employment opportunities through partnerships and networking. Living alone for the first time helps students to be confident and independent and they will build lifelong personal and professional relationships.
What’s involved in the UCAS application process?
The application is through one central portal on the UCAS website and students make 5 choices only (4 for Oxford, Cambridge, medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science). The application is submitted at the beginning of Year 13. It’s important to understand the whole process and to start early with the UCAS process (start at beginning of Sixth Form). Students should build evidence of skills, experience, passions, interests, and course choices for their application over a period of 12 to 18 months. The process requires a complete academic record including GCSE results and predicted A Level, IB/BTEC grades if applying in Year 13. UCAS accepts alternative qualifications from all over the world. The personal statement (4000 characters including spaces) is a motivation statement and is a very important part of the UCAS application. Some universities and courses require additional testing, audition or portfolio and families should allow plenty of time to prepare and fine-tune. Finally, an academic reference is required, usually from your school and that should support what the student has said in the personal (motivation) statement.
How do we choose best fit universities?
This is such an important and time-consuming part of the application but, to have the best chance of receiving offers and your child loving their time at university, the research needs to be done thoroughly. The final 5 choices need to feel right to your family. Spend a lot of time on research using the UCAS portal and Unifrog (watch the video below to find out more about Unifrog). Create a spreadsheet to look at all aspects of each university including course structure, costs, location, clubs and societies, travel links, campus type and size, accommodation options, teaching reputation, student feedback and employment rates. Students should make sure that they are likely to meet the academic requirements of the course and it’s important to take a deep dive into the course structure to make sure it matches preferred learning and assessment styles. Some courses are exam focused and others assess through coursework so it’s important to make sure the course is well suited to each student’s individual learning preferences.
Overall, going to university can be an amazing and life changing experience but it’s important to be very thorough during the research and application phase so that the universities you apply to are the best ones for you. In our next blog, we’ll take a more detailed look at the application timeline.
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