I currently intend to apply to read History & Politics at university and hope to achieve AAA at A Level. Despite the fact I hope to obtain high grades, I don't think it's wise to apply to five or six courses asking for very high grades (i.e. AAA or AAB). However, I'm not sure how many such courses it is appropriate to apply for.
I had initially planned to apply to 2 universities asking for Very High Grades (i.e. AAA-AAB), two asking for High Grades (i.e. ABB) and a further two asking for Slightly Lower Grades (i.e. BBB-BBC). Is that sensible?
However, I'm thinking of applying to Durham, Oxford and Warwick (three very competitive universities), Manchester (its entry requirements seem to be rising as this year it's asking for AAB-ABB), Swansea (260-300 points) and Aberystwyth (280 points). I'm not 100% certain if I shall select this exact six but I am worried that I'm applying to too many "top" universities and too few ones where competition for places is less fierce.
I'd appreciate any advice you can share on how "good match", "reach" and "safety" university courses should comprise the final six choices!
Dont set your sights too low - if you are good (as in, likely to get the predicted 3As, or at least pretty certain about 2 of them) and you can demonstare that you really love the subject go for whichever you like. I applied for history and politics at oxford, durham, LSE, warwick, york and birmingham, and got offers from all 6.
You only go to university once, so it's important to go somewhere that fits your talents and ambitions. I would apply for 4 very good unis and two pretty good ones. Don't make the mistake I made, and apply to places that you wouldn't actually want to go.
Thanks for your quick replies!
In light of your advice, would you advise applying to Durham, Manchester, Oxford, Swansea and Warwick but selecting a slightly more competitive university than Aberystwyth?
I chose Aberystwyth because I would receive a fee grant if I attended there (as I am Welsh and it is in Wales), it has a very well repsected International Politics Department, which offers summer placements in the House of Commons and Welsh Assembly and the opportunity to study abroad at a university in Canada (e.g. McGill) or America (e.g. USC). I also like the courses it offered (while I could not find very many at all I liked at Cardiff, which was disappointing since I like the university and city). In spite of all of the positives I feel about the course at Aberystwyth, I'm a little put off by its location and, unfortunately, its low entry requirements. I don't know if that's a legitimate reason to be deterred from applying to a university but I would ideally like to go somewhere that has students who have similar A Level grades to me, etc. (Obviously, A Level grades aren't necessarily able to predict performance at university level but, nevertheless, I do seek to be around people of a similar ability to me.)
May I ask for some recommendations? I like Bristol but it doesn't offer History & Politics and I am quite keen on York but have decided it's probably a little too far away from home. I think Durham's probably too far away from home (South Wales) as well but I felt more drawn to it from the prospectus than York. I'd probably only want to go to Durham if I were accepted there but rejected by Oxford and Warwick. As I'd choose it over York too, I've decided that I can probably use that university choice a little more wisely and apply to somewhere I feel more inclined to attend. I'm a little apprehensive about uni in London (because of the expense) but am open to suggestions (cajoling!) there!
sebyevans, by my very dodgy calculations, I need to get 194 UMS marks next year in order to get an A in History; I think this equates to a grade C. I don't want to be overly confident but I feel this is quite achievable.
How long would Lancaster take? It has a very good course, and needs ABB-BBB.
liverpool, UEA, sussex and Queen Mary all have lower entry requirements and worth ooking at
I understand what you mean by "lower" universities; it's a concept I find difficult to explain to people without belittling other institutions so I think you did a great job of conveying what you mean!
My general attitude is that I shan't go to a university "worse" than Swansea. This basically means that I'm only prepared to pay the extra costs involved with going to university away from home if, in the end, it's going to be worth it academically, socially and financially. Obviously, Durham, Oxford and Warwick all have much stronger reputations than Swansea and I'd say that Manchester most likely does too. I'm not sure of the standing of Aberystwyth in comparison but it's fair to say that it's International Politics Department is probably superior to Swansea's (and, indeed, many other universities' departments). I'd be happy at Swansea because I feel I'd get a good education for a relatively low cost. However, I don't think I could honestly say the same if I went to a comparable university located somewhere else in the country. My perception of the reputation of Swansea University is the base mark, in a way, to whether I feel it is worth applying to others. I just see absolutely no point into getting into a mountain of debt if you're not going to get very much more out of it! (Of course, there are many arguments to be made about the social experience of going to university -- hence the reason I'm likely going to apply for Politics and American Studies at Swansea in order to guarantee a year abroad or else pursue a ERASMUS year.)
I'm trying to safeguard myself against any disappointment by having a "favourite three" though I get the impression from your advice that I should perhaps amend that to a "favourite six". Is there anywhere you wish you'd applied but didn't?
I have a very preliminary personal statement at the moment that needs a fair bit of work before I'm prepared to call it anything like finished. It's quite weak on extra-curricular things as, quite frankly, I'm woefully boring and am not involved in much outside of school of note. I mean, I'm planning on learning Persian in an evening conversation class at the local college from September but that hardly makes me sound like a sociable person with a life and interests outside of academia! It's slightly frustrating as that's the area I'm weakest on. I am very keen to involve myself in a lot of things in university but, at school and in my area, sport and music seem to be the things that predominate (and, alack, I am not very good at either). I probably should Try Harder.
Thank you for your kind comments about my grades; it looks like you did fabulously well too (and you're going to Warwick so yay for you!).
I would confirm what others have said. Dont apply for somewhere you wont feel comfortable! I applied for York, Nottingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle and Reading. The first two rejected me, the later 4 took me. In the end I took Manchester who wanted the highest grades (AAB with A in history) and Reading, yet when I just missed Manchester I didnt want to go to Reading leaving me in dilema I had in last few days. Also I would say when I visited Sheffield it wasnt for me. I didnt feel I liked the area and the facilities. Therefore I would say have a backup incase you are rejected from the top but with your grades, you should be at a top 10 University for History.
p.s. Manchester next year wants AAA
Well, in the end your only going to pick two. So would you want to choose a top university and a not so top one, or two top ones? I do recommend applying to some top ones and ones that don't ask for quite so much, because if the top ones then don't give you an offer - you still have choices. However...it does depend on you AS results as to whether applying to lower universities is a wise choice
You should aim to get a firm choice of AAA (preferably Oxford) and an insurance of AAB - you won't fall below that at A-level. I was in exactly your position last year. I applied to Oxford, York, Warwick, Manchester, Nottingham and Leeds, with the first two as my final offers. By January, however, I realised I'd rather just do straight history than politics, and thankfully ended up at Oxford doing just history.
Whilst for most students a 'safety net' is advisable, in your case it won't be necessary. You should put Oxford as a firm choice (AAA - some mysterious sense tells me you'll get an offer no problem) and another top 10/20 university with an AAB offer for your insurance.
Manchester wants AAA? I could've sworn the prospectus told a slightly less terrifying story (AAB-ABB)! However, I've checked UCAS (yay, it's back!) and it turns out that you're right -- it's asking for grades between AAA and AAB for both History and History and Politics. This news is slightly encouraging in the sense that, if I end up going there, I'll be surrounded by a lot of very bright people (in what I gather is a very vibrant city). It does slightly spoil the plans of having it as an insurance choice but I suppose that particular revelation only makes it more attractive as a firm choice (oh, I am a bit of a snob when it comes to the entry requirements of universities). I suppose I could always consider applying for Modern Middle Eastern History (BBC-BCC) there as I believe that entails the contemporary history, politics and culture of a set region with possible language instruction. It is something that interests me but I think, at the end of the day, it's far too early to be specialising in a particular country or region.
While it's questionable as to whether Politics A Level is a good preparatory tool for Politics at degree level, I have to say that I've thoroughly enjoyed it and foresee wanting to continue studying it for quite a while yet! (Of course, this doesn't stop The Family Members thinking I have ambitions to become Prime Minister...)
I notice that a few of you are heading to Oxford -- do you have any thoughts on asking to be considered for admission to History (single honours) if I'm rejected for History & Politics? I got the impression, from the 2007 prospectus, that this was not unusual with History and English but I didn't find a comparable comment elsewhere in respect to the History joint schools.
On another note, I've posted my PS in the PS helper forum but I was wondering if any of you would mind giving it a cursory glance over? It sounds like you've all been very successful recently and could possibly point me in the right direction in a few places! I. Need. To. Read. More. History. And. Politics. Books. This is for certain! As a guide, how many books do you think you should mention in your PS and should they be of the Carr, ***uyama, etc. type or the wow-this-book-looked-good-in-Waterstones kind?
The School of Oriental and African Studies
im was the same position as u. i wanted to apply for history at a few top unis that i rli liked and to a few less prestigious ones jus to b sure of getting an offer. However i realised that i wdnt b happy being newer other than a top uni and if i ended up goin to one of the less pretigious ones id jus b unhappy ther as id set my sights sumwer higher. Im jus gna apply to the 6 best unis for history (il b extremely happy at ne one of them) and hopefully im bound to get an offer frm at least one. Woteva the offer i will work my b******s off to get ther. If i dont get an offer newer il jus re-apply next year, id rather take a year out thn spend 3 years at sumwer i hate.