Sponsored feature, words by Russ Thorne
Once you've sent off your UCAS application, you don't just have to sit back and chew your nails. There are a few proactive things you can do while you wait to hear from universities and some might help you with your final decisions, or even with interviews. So, with a little help from the experts at Northumbria University, here are the five essentials of post-application life:

1 – Don't panic if you're not done yet

If you're still working on your application, you can't make like an ostrich, bury your head in the sand and hope it's all going to go away. However, no need to collapse either. “Try not to panic!” reassures Helen Fleming, Assistant Marketing Director (Student Journey) at Northumbria. “Be yourself on the application form and don't be afraid to ask for support or advice if you're not sure what to do.” Your school or college will be able to help you, and check out Northumbria's handy guides to applications and personal statements.

2 – Plan for the next stages

It's useful to know what's further down the road. How do you accept an offer, for example? How does clearing work? Now's the time to find out: UCAS has information on every stage of the process and will also help you keep track of your application.

Prospective universities can assist you, too. Many, like Northumbria, let you register for updates so that you'll know all about open days and get useful information well in advance. “We're on hand to help after you complete your application,” says Helen. “We can offer support with helping you prepare for any interviews and advice and guidance about next steps in the process.”

3 – Get your 'interview head' on

Speaking of interviews, you may well be invited to one – or an audition, depending on your course – so again, it's a good idea to know what to expect. Contact the universities you've applied to - they'll be happy to help - and do some research. “I knew I had to audition for the courses I applied for and spent a lot of time researching drama books and resources in the college and public libraries,” says Northumbria graduate Louise Tarrant. “I also attended presentations from universities who visited my college and made sure I had prepared some questions for them.”

If you'd like some help getting started, Northumbria Uni have a great interview guide and audition guide on their website.

4 – Prepare to make your choices

Helen Fleming, Assistant Marketing Director (Student Journey) at NorthumbriaHelen Fleming, Assistant Marketing Director (Student Journey) at Northumbria

Once the offers are in you'll need to make a firm and insurance choice of university. The key to getting it right is finding out as much as you can about the places you're looking at, and one good way is to attend an applicant visit day, such as the ones Northumbria offers. “They're the perfect opportunity to help you make that final decision about which university to choose,” says Helen. “You'll be able to meet lecturers from your course, current students and sometimes even alumni who can tell you the real benefits of choosing that university and course.”

Northumbria grad Kate Curry found out everything she could about the course structure and modules on her Midwifery BSc before accepting it, and also made sure she visited and liked the campus and city (Newcastle) itself. She also spoke to the admissions team and found relevant forums to get advice from fellow applicants. “I found it really useful,” she says, “it enabled me to chat to people who were going through the same process or who were current students and able to offer advice.”

This part of the process is going to determine where you spend the next few years, so it's worth taking your time and doing your homework. But instinct is important too, says Helen. “Follow your heart. You'll know when you've found the right university for you.”

5 – Move on!

Finally, don't let your application consume you. Enjoy school and college, play sports, plan a gap year (if you're taking one), maybe think about volunteering or getting a job to save money...it's all good, and will also mean you'll have something to talk about at an interview. “Work to your full potential, utilise your time effectively and do your very best,” advises Kate. “But make time for you and be sure that you still have time to relax.”

Find out more about Northumbria University.