Getting rejected from universities you really wanted is tough. If this does happen to you, it may feel like your world has fallen down around you, you’re never going to get ahead and get your degree like all your friends. However, all is not lost, take a deep breath and look at what you can do about it.
UCAS Extra can offer you a lifeline and is a way of applying for courses at universities if you never received any offers. It runs from the end of February through to early July, advertising courses with places, giving you plenty of time to find the degree you want.
According to Matthew Taylor, head of admissions at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, it is a great way to still apply when things haven’t quite gone your way.
“Finding out you haven’t got any offers can be a real blow, but there are plenty more amazing courses out there that you can choose from through UCAS Extra,” he says. “You may end up finding a course which turns out to be even better than your original choice.”
What is UCAS Extra?
UCAS Extra is open to anyone who has applied through the normal UCAS system but has either not received any offers from all five of their choices, declined all offers, or who has had a change of circumstances e.g. decided on a different course.
You can apply to as many universities as you like through UCAS Extra but only one at a time and if you decline an offer you can’t then go back and accept it at a later date – once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Taylor says: “Courses like medicine will not come up on Extra, so you need to be sure you want to go for the course you apply for.
“Having said that there are some really fantastic courses out there. For example, if you didn’t get accepted for a BA in physical education, but still have you heart set on that field, you could find applying for Sports Science and Strength Conditioning courses might still get you where you want to be.”
How to make your UCAS Extra application successful
UCAS Extra doesn’t currently allow you to update your personal statement and references online, which can be a real disadvantage if you apply for a totally different course from your original choice. You will need to redo your personal statement offline, along with any references, and send them directly to the university admissions office.
Consider the reasons why you were rejected from all five of your choices as well. Universities don’t generally tell you why they reject you, but it might be because they felt you weren’t sufficiently committed to the course, or lacked relevant experience. Have another read of your personal statement and try and identify anything you could improve upon.
Before you apply, it’s also worth phoning the university to check they are taking applicants for the course you want. If you find they are, now is a good time to ask about entrance requirements. They may be willing to consider you, even if your grades are predicted to be slightly lower, especially if they are trying to fill up places.
And if all else fails…
It may feel terrible, but missing out on a university place doesn’t mean the end of the world.
You could still get a place through Clearing.
Clearing kicks off in July but most places become available around A-level results time. It can be pretty stressful, but if you’re well prepared you can still find a place you’re really happy with.
If you find you get better results than expected, you could find a place through UCAS Adjustment at your preferred university. Unlike Extra though, there are no lists of vacancies so you will need to contact individual university admissions offices.
If you still can’t get a place, taking a year out and getting some work experience or better grades under your belt, and reapplying the following year might be best.
Working in the industry you want to get into can really help strengthen your application. You could try voluntary work, or travel and gain experience abroad, or learn a new language. Work experience can be especially important for competitive fields such as medicine or architecture.
If your a-levels aren’t up to scratch, you could consider going back to college and improving your grades so that when you do apply, your application is much stronger.
Taylor says: “Most universities will look favourably on applicants who have done measurable work to improve their applications, grades and experience.”