More Rejections than Offers? Advice and Support *Here* Watch

Minerva
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So here you are… everyone else (it seems) is getting buried in offers, while all you’re getting is ‘unsuccessful’ on your Track, maybe with a couple of offers from places you aren’t sure about. This thread is for you.

Very often, people know why this has happened – they took a punt and applied a bit above their predictions, and it hasn’t come off. For others, it's completely unexpected – they’ve got top GCSE grades, high AS grades and A2 predictions, everyone says their PS was great, and so was their reference – yet still the rejections are coming in, and in some cases people end up with a full house of five, without any obvious explanation as to why .

The first thing to say to those of you in this situation is that this is NOT about you personally. It reflects the huge volume of applicants and an admissions system that is most often a paper exercise, which makes it very difficult for admissions tutors to distinguish between them. Other than Medicine, the subjects where strong candidates can end up with lots of rejections include English, Law, History, Economics: look around the subject forums, you'll see that every year a number of unlucky people go through this experience. It's grim, particularly when everyone else is doing the "omg which shall I choose out of my five offers" bit, or making a big fuss about choosing between Warwick and Durham, when you’d kill for an offer from either.

So here you are. What’s done is done. How to move to forward and get a good result from all this? It can be done, I promise you.

You still have some decisions to come in
Try and be positive while you wait. Just because you have only received rejections so far doesn’t mean you won’t get an offer from anyone else. However, if you really don’t want that offer even if you got it, consider cancelling the choice and heading straight for Extra.

Asking the unis to consider me for alternative courses
In some cases it is possible to ask a uni that has rejected you for one course to consider you for an alternative. As this means you don't have to go through Extra it is worth a try if the alternative course is still accepting applications. Contact the uni and talk to them about the possibility. You may find that they already considered you for the alternative and decided against making you an offer - and this is useful to know, in the event that that course turns up in Extra (see below). If the uni is willing to consider you for the alternative, they can revise both the course code and decision; any changes will show up on Track in due course.

It has also been known for unis to contact you to ask if you'd like to be considered for an alternative - don't turn this down out of hand without giving it some thought.

All my decisions are in, but I don’t want to accept the offer/s I have
You need to think this one through very carefully. Declining the offer is not without risk – your next option would be Extra, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll find anything ‘better’ (whatever that means to you). Sensible reasons for declining the offer/s and going into Extra might include concerns about whether the course covers the areas that interest you well enough; a less good reason for declining an offer would be ‘prestige’ (or rather, perceived lack of it).

An option to bear in mind if you are holding conditional offer/s with requirements below what you realistically expect to achieve is UCAS - Adjustment. Let’s say you have predictions of AAB and you have a conditional offer for BBB. If you accept that offer, and exceed it by getting ABB or better, you can register for Adjustment on Results Day and see if somewhere else is willing to consider you. While it needs to be pointed out that not that many people get places through Adjustment - UCAS figures show that it was fewer than 400 in both 2009 and 2010 - and it is not clear how many people applied through Adjustment unsuccessfully, it is an option, and for some people it works. If it did not work for you, your original 2011 place would still be there, and you would have the option to decline it and re-apply next year if you wanted to.

Unfortunately, because of the way it works, you cannot use Adjustment if you have accepted an unconditional offer as your Firm. If you are holding conditional firm and unconditional insurance offers, however, you would still be eligible for Adjustment if you exceeded the requirements of your firm offer, as your insurance place is automatically cancelled once your conditional firm becomes unconditional.

Declining an unconditional offer brings in other factors. A second gap year may not be what you had planned, but if you are really sure that what you’ve got is not for you, then better that than starting a course only to drop out. Theoretically, you could ask later to be released from your unconditional offer into Clearing, but as things seem to be panning out at the moment that would be a high risk strategy indeed.

I’m going to go through Extra
To give yourself the best chance of success, there are three key things to do:

Review your application thoroughly

  • Have you got any helpful feedback from the unis that rejected you?
  • Is there a weakness in your academic profile (eg missing GCSEs) that is causing the problem? If so, you might want to think about whether planned resits and reapplication next year may be more productive for you.
  • What was your reference like? If your school/college won’t let you see your reference (and in these circumstances it is worth pressing them about this, as they should be somewhat embarrassed about the situation you are in) you can apply to UCAS and pay £10 for the information. This will then give you a sense of the overall strength of your application and what issues you might wish to address in an updated PS.
  • Look at your PS. Even if you are applying for the same or broadly similar course, you are now a few months down the line from when you wrote it. Ask the uni you are interested in whether they will accept an updated version, and don’t forget PS Help is still open for business. If you are applying for a completely different course an updated PS is a must, and it would be unusual for a uni to refuse to accept it.

Consider alternative course options

  • What about joint honours, or a related subject?
  • If you identify alternatives that appeal to you, check that you meet their minimum entry requirements in all respects. This is not the time to gamble.

Be realistic and pragmatic

  • Even for the competitive subjects, and in these competitive times, it’s likely there will be some good unis/courses available in Extra, though places will go very quickly so this is not the time to hang around.
  • However, don't get too taken in by the "oh which is better out of uni a, b, or c" bit either; there's quite a lot of that nonsense around on TSR, most of it ill-informed and unhelpful. In the end it's what you make of your university life that counts far more for employers, so rather than idle speculation about which university is "best", make sure the course really suits you, in every sense. That way you are much more likely to achieve your potential, which is what this is all about, isn’t it? So don’t dismiss an opportunity at a less high profile uni without looking into it carefully and being sure that you are doing so for the right reasons.


I didn’t want to take a (another) gap year
If you really really don't want a gap year (is it just that you hadn't planned to and don't have a clue what to do with one?) there is every chance that you will find something good this year. But, if it comes to that, this may well turn out better than you think. Provided you don’t spend it dossing around (volunteer for something, if you can’t get paid work) a gap year will enhance your strengths and perhaps even highlight other possibilities you hadn’t thought of. Once people get to uni, age doesn’t matter at all, so don’t worry about being ‘too old’.

I’d like to re-apply next year but I’m worried about tuition fees
Remember that the only change is to tuition fees, and that full loans for these will be available up-front. The threshold at which you will start to repay will be higher than it is now, so (according to the figures in Lord Browne's report) on a salary of £25k you'd be paying back £30 a month rather than the £75 or so you'd be paying now.

My advice is that it may be better to re-apply with a more targeted application and a full range of choices to pick from, than to settle for something you aren’t really happy with this year, and then end up dropping out, or worse. Dropping out can be expensive too - you may be committed to a year’s worth of accommodation costs, for instance, never mind any tuition or maintenance loans you have received that will have to be repaid. As for failing…. well, let’s not go there.

A final word
Ending up with loads of rejections is probably one of the most demoralising experiences going, especially if you are the only one in your group that it’s happening to. The good news is that these things do have a habit of working out for the best in the end – you’ll be surprised to find that there are options you didn’t know about or hadn’t considered before. These may very well suit you much better than the first ideas you had, and you are just as likely to do as well as – if not better than - those people who got a full house of offers. You only need one
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jam277
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(Original post by Minerva)
So here you are… everyone else (it seems) is getting buried in offers, while all you’re getting is ‘unsuccessful’ on your Track, maybe with a couple of offers from places you aren’t sure about. This thread is for you.
What a great post!!! I have three rejections and I'm down to one medicine (leicester 5 year (AAA)) I have an offer from liverpool for biochemistry with a year in placement (ABB) if I get A*AA or higher and I don't get in to leicester I will take a gap year and if I don't i'll go to my insurance and see what happens from there. Might be the one for me.
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Minerva
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(Original post by jam277)
What a great post!!! I have three rejections and I'm down to one medicine (leicester 5 year (AAA)) I have an offer from liverpool for biochemistry with a year in placement (ABB) if I get A*AA or higher and I don't get in to leicester I will take a gap year and if I don't i'll go to my insurance and see what happens from there. Might be the one for me.
Thank you

Sounds like you have a plan - good luck; let's hope Leicester come up with something for you.
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jam277
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(Original post by Minerva)
Thank you

Sounds like you have a plan - good luck; let's hope Leicester come up with something for you.
Hopefully. It was annoying though because I thought I would at least get an interview. If I get one from leicester then it would be one shot.
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natashapt
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I had rejections from LSE and UCL for History even though my application was said to be great, got 3 offers from RHUL, York and Cardiff but as they were both my top 2 choices a bit disenheartened, hopefully after visiting them I will feel more confident about firming/insuring.
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Minerva
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(Original post by natashapt)
I had rejections from LSE and UCL for History even though my application was said to be great, got 3 offers from RHUL, York and Cardiff but as they were both my top 2 choices a bit disenheartened, hopefully after visiting them I will feel more confident about firming/insuring.
Three very different courses at very good unis for History there - check out the detail, and make sure you've got plenty of scope to pursue what really interests you when deciding which to go for. They may not be as high profile as LSE or UCL, but all of those unis turn out highly respected historians
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Ambs
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This really is a great post - thanks so much for putting all that advice together! It's comforting to know that there are more people around who are struggling with similar problems. Let's all keep our fingers crossed and hope that things turn out well after all. Thank you Minerva!!
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Minerva
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(Original post by Ambs)
This really is a great post - thanks so much for putting all that advice together! It's comforting to know that there are more people around who are struggling with similar problems. Let's all keep our fingers crossed and hope that things turn out well after all. Thank you Minerva!!
My pleasure [I mean, I'm glad it's helpful, but I wish it wasn't needed :tongue:]
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steph214
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Hey, this is a really useful post, it helps to know you’re not the only one in that situation. Hoping to find something in ucas extra tomorrow do you know if you should email the universities, before you ring them or is that just a waste of time?
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oxymoronic
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(Original post by steph214)
Hey, this is a really useful post, it helps to know you’re not the only one in that situation. Hoping to find something in ucas extra tomorrow do you know if you should email the universities, before you ring them or is that just a waste of time?
You need to contact them before you apply, yes.
You don't need to email them in advance of calling them though! You're likely to get a quicker response if you call and speak to the relevant person.
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steph214
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Thank you
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CharlyM
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This is definitely the best post I've come across, I find the pages full of offers demoralising, whereas this actually contains helpful information.


(Original post by natashapt)
I had rejections from LSE and UCL for History even though my application was said to be great, got 3 offers from RHUL, York and Cardiff but as they were both my top 2 choices a bit disenheartened, hopefully after visiting them I will feel more confident about firming/insuring.
I got rejected from UCl for history too. It was the hardest rejection to take by far, especially when - unhelpfully - my history teacher told me he was surprised by this, and then proceeded to reassure me that I would be fine with the rest of my choices... Yeah, they didn't turn out too hot either...

I also got rejected from Durham and Cambridge, which I didn't mind individually, as I didn't particularly want to go there. But it does make for a rather depressing UCAS track.
Still waiting to hear from Bristol and Edinburgh, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to re-apply. I always wanted a gap year, and I don't think I really thought about the universities I chose before applying. I think I'm going to reapply to London universities. Just waiting on the decisions from the remaining two!

Thanks for all the helpful information, and consolation, in this post
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Mark12345680
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Does anyone know the difference between unsuccessful and rejection?
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natashapt
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(Original post by CharlyM)
This is definitely the best post I've come across, I find the pages full of offers demoralising, whereas this actually contains helpful information.




I got rejected from UCl for history too. It was the hardest rejection to take by far, especially when - unhelpfully - my history teacher told me he was surprised by this, and then proceeded to reassure me that I would be fine with the rest of my choices... Yeah, they didn't turn out too hot either...

I also got rejected from Durham and Cambridge, which I didn't mind individually, as I didn't particularly want to go there. But it does make for a rather depressing UCAS track.
Still waiting to hear from Bristol and Edinburgh, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to re-apply. I always wanted a gap year, and I don't think I really thought about the universities I chose before applying. I think I'm going to reapply to London universities. Just waiting on the decisions from the remaining two!

Thanks for all the helpful information, and consolation, in this post
I'm sorry to hear about your rejections, I'm sure your an excellent candidate, dont worry about the UCAS track, I felt rubbish in comparison to all my friends who have all got 5 offers from UWIC and the like, but History is so competitive its really luck of the draw. Good luck with your re-application if you do so, which london Uni's do you think youl go for? x
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Minerva
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(Original post by Mark12345680)
Does anyone know the difference between unsuccessful and rejection?
There isn't one. "Unsuccessful" is what appears on Track; "Rejection" is what it means.

(Original post by CharlyM)
This is definitely the best post I've come across, I find the pages full of offers demoralising, whereas this actually contains helpful information.

I got rejected from UCl for history too. It was the hardest rejection to take by far, especially when - unhelpfully - my history teacher told me he was surprised by this, and then proceeded to reassure me that I would be fine with the rest of my choices... Yeah, they didn't turn out too hot either...

I also got rejected from Durham and Cambridge, which I didn't mind individually, as I didn't particularly want to go there. But it does make for a rather depressing UCAS track.
Still waiting to hear from Bristol and Edinburgh, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to re-apply. I always wanted a gap year, and I don't think I really thought about the universities I chose before applying. I think I'm going to reapply to London universities. Just waiting on the decisions from the remaining two!

Thanks for all the helpful information, and consolation, in this post
(Original post by natashapt)
I'm sorry to hear about your rejections, I'm sure your an excellent candidate, dont worry about the UCAS track, I felt rubbish in comparison to all my friends who have all got 5 offers from UWIC and the like, but History is so competitive its really luck of the draw. Good luck with your re-application if you do so, which london Uni's do you think youl go for? x
I'm glad you both found the post helpful - funnily enough I'm on TSR through having watched someone else go through being rejected across the board for history, because the school had not realised just how competitive it was and got their advice completely wrong. The so-called insurance choice was the first to post a rejection. 'Nuff said, really.

You might find TSR Wiki: History Degree of interest...
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CynicaL
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Minerva
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(Original post by CynicaL)
If I only have that offer and I firm it, I wouldn't be able to withdraw would I?
I really wanted to go to Nottingham, is it better to try my luck through clearing? Are any decent courses ever available through clearing?
You could ask the uni to release you on Results Day but this is a high risk strategy as time is of the essence in Clearing. There are 'decent courses' in Clearing, but they aren't there for long. It's impossible to say what might be available at Nottingham.

Taking a gap year is something to consider, regardless of whether you decide to reapply for medicine or not.
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CynicaL
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Edit - I apologize for sounding arrogant by using the phrase 'decent' but it helped you understand what I was wanting to say. By this I mean I would be willing to take anything scientific and interesting including neuroscience, genetics, molecular medicine, biological chemistry, pharmacology etc. in the event that I got grades that would disadvantage me from reapplying for medicine. Thank you for your help. I will probably be back with more questions.

As it stands... I hate my life.
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Minerva
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(Original post by CynicaL)
As it stands... I hate my life.
I do understand that. This one's a pig, no doubt about it, but it will be all right in the end (hard though that is to believe at the moment).

The good news is that the sciences do tend to have more opportunities in Extra/Clearing than arts and humanities subjects. Just keep an open mind and think laterally.
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CynicaL
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(Original post by Minerva)
I do understand that. This one's a pig, no doubt about it, but it will be all right in the end (hard though that is to believe at the moment).

The good news is that the sciences do tend to have more opportunities in Extra/Clearing than arts and humanities subjects. Just keep an open mind and think laterally.
Thank you for your wise words. I pray that it does all turn out okay. For myself and many others it's the most depressing situation I have been in for a long time. It's so hard to take for many people as this will be the first/one of the few times most have been told that they aren't good enough academically. Ah well... lol.
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