UCAS 08 (and beyond) tips/advice for UCAS 09 Watch

inkblot
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#1
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#1
I thought it would be a nice idea if the people who applied for the 2008 cycle of UCAS share their top tips for the new 2009 cycle applicants.

All the sort of things you wish that you knew when you we're just starting to apply and the mistakes or clever decisions you made plus dispelling any of those UCAS myths.


One tip I would give is to not feel under-pressure to fill out your application as early as possible. You do have more time than you might think. However it does really help if you fill out all the simple stuff at the start as its less to think about later.
My big recommendation is to start finding out about open day dates now and plan to attend all the ones you want to see. Don't just go on other people's opinions because you could be missing out on the perfect one for you.
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vixky!
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Visit all the unis you apply to. I can't stress this enough.

Examine the courses at each uni. I didn't realise how much difference there was in all the courses, just assumed that it'd be similar wherever I went.

Be ambitious with your unis, and only apply to one back-up. With Extra and Clearing, it's not worth using up choices for lower end unis when you only have 5.

Write a personal statement over the summer so you have it ready for when you go back to school/college in September.

Retake as many modules as you can in January. June in your A2 year is the most stressful time of your college life, don't assume you have lots of chances to get the grade.

Get your application in as early as possible. I left mine until the deadline and it was so difficult trying to cope with coursework/deadlines and still having that hanging over my head.
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RosiePosiePuddingAndPie
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- Don't keep putting off your personal statement, it's not that hard once you get started. Bullet point all the things you want to mention, then order and group the bullet points into paragraphs, then write the paragraphs. It's much easier than sitting there with a blank sheet of paper trying to think of your opening line (which, incidentally, was the last thing I wrote for my PS).

- Don't think that you have to apply earlier to get a chance. So long as you're before the January 15th deadline, you get 'equal consideration', so it doesn't matter that people have been getting offers since November - if you're going to get an offer, you'll get it whether you send your application off on September 1st or January 1st.

- Check, double check, even triple check, that you've put all your qualifications down. Is general studies there? What about all your GCSEs? Your Key Skills Level 3 in 'Communication'. Some might seem unnecessary, but they're all qualifications, and you may as well include them.

- This isn't something I've personally learnt, but judging by TSR, a lot of people think it's a good idea to lie about the grade they got in the AS they dropped, or to pretend to have A2s that they simply don't have. The university will find out, and they won't be impressed.

- Visit as many of the universities as you can. You can visit more than 5, it'll help with your decision if you've seen a selection that you can pick from. And don't apply to places that you wouldn't even want to go to as a back up for your back up. I wasted two of my options, doing that.
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YellowPaiges
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Do not underestimate the importance of relevant work experience, no matter what subject you are applying for. Get some sorted for over the summer - I thought it'd be a right pain, but not only did I love doing it (it confirmed for me what I wanted to do) it looked fantastic on my Personal Statement. Most Uni's really look for work experience, and it's a big plus to have some good stuff - especially if you are doing dental/med/vet but you probably already know that.
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vi_26
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DONT PANIC! All of you people have amazing grades and everything so i'm sure this won't apply to you but if you do get rejected from one place don't panic. Happens to the best. It isn't the end of the world. Trust me.
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spartan101
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Personal Statements are hugely important but i don't think people need to be doing them over the summer. Thats the time to do f'all and enjoy yourself! My advice for personal statements is to read a few quality ones by people who are studying the same subject. Try and pick out the good things, like how they've structured it etc. There's actually a really good book, a white one i think (can't remember the name) that you can get from a library or Amazon that helps you write a good PS.

Id also say get your PS checked by a few teachers and write a few drafts based on their comments. If you start when you get to school you should easily have it ready by october (the oxbridge deadline) and if you don't have to meet the deadline, then you have even longer!!

As for unis, id say definately check them all out.

Work experience is quite important, especially for Med students. However, for other subjects, while its really good to have work experience, you could quite easily fake it, especially if you're not going to get interviewed

Id only do that as a last resort though, because i do actually think that work experience is really useful. Helped me to get a little perspective on things.
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jeh_jeh
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PERSONAL STATEMENT
- don't bother writing your personal statement over summer (unless you're applying to Oxbridge and, even then, I think you're being a little too quick off the mark)
- when you write your first draft, leave it for a couple of days and then come back to it - the fresh perspective really helps
- write a plan!
+ write down all the main points you want to put in (e.g. why you want to do the course, what you think you could offer to university life in general (not just to a specific place, though), extra curricular stuff, work experience, paid work, relevant trips abroad)
+ group them together and put into paragraphs
+ flesh the paragraphs out and inject 'you' into them. Personal statements must sound like they've been written by you - and universities will be able to tell if this is the case - and not someone else!
+ check, check, check! Get your friend to read over it, and read over theirs, and offer constructive criticism
- there's no need to put your actual grades into your statement - unis can see these from your UCAS application
- make sure you back up everything you say. Don't just say, 'I'm really organised', but actually include things that show you're organised (like, doing extra-curricular stuff, or whatever)
- stick to the character limit! Put your statement into UCAS and it should tell you
- use good spelling and grammar. By 16/17, we should know how to spell. If you don't, get someone to help you
- try and aim for good opening and closing lines, but don't feel that you need to come up with the opener first. In fact, I think I put mine in last

UCAS APPLICATION
- make sure you put all your qualifications in. Seriously, even if they don't seem relevant to you, they are! Duke of Edinburgh, computer proficiency things (like CLAIT) and AEA can all make a big difference
- don't lie about your qualifications - UNIVERSITIES WILL FIND OUT AND THEY WON'T BE IMPRESSED!
- make sure you get the right board / specification for your subjects, especially at GCSE (where half my year had either forgotten, or hadn't got a clue in the first place...)
- double and triple check uni / campus / course codes - unless, of course, you want to end up doing Particle Physics instead of English Literature!

CHOOSING UNIVERSITIES
- don't apply somewhere just 'cause your friend is
- don't apply somewhere just 'cause it seems prestigious
- do apply somewhere because you love the campus, the course and the people
- don't apply somewhere just because they only want three Es, or something
- do apply somewhere because you're confident it will stretch you academically, but is still a realistic target
- do choose firm and insurance choices that you'd be happy to go to, not just 'cause they're an easy option
- do visit as many places as possible
- listen to your teachers' advice, but don't base your decisions purely on what they say - have faith in yourself! 'Cause, believe me, 3+ years is a long time to be spending somewhere!
- do get accommodation requests in by the deadline, or earlier if they operate a 'first come, first served' policy

FINANCE / MISCELLANEOUS
- don't panic if you don't understand the student finance forms!
- do get someone to help you, especially if you're applying for means tested stuff that relies on your family's income
- do apply for the means tested section, even if you don't think you qualify - you could be surprised
- if you're dyslexic, or have some kind of disability, or think you could have, tick the 'disabled' box on the student finance form and get tested
- disclose any relevant information regarding this to your university - they're only there to help

Finally, work really hard (no matter how hard / easy you found your GCSEs, 'A'-Levels are harder and require more time and dedication) in ALL your exams - January, June, January and June! The less resits, the better, honestly. And, good luck!
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Charlurr
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#8
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Apply as soon as you can, it means you're more likely to get an offer
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Katiee
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#9
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if you didnt do so well in your first year
dont be dishartened
unis will higher grades may still accept you
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carnivorous_fridge
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Definitely visit as many unis as you can!

Send off for prospectuses from all the unis you think you might possibly be interested in (you can usually get them from their websites) and then decide which you like the sound of, then go to the relevant open day.

There was one uni i loved from the prospectus, but hated when i visited it.

...so visit!
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Juno
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#11
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* Use the search function
* Read the wiki

:juno:
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Hula129
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#12
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Gawd im nervous about the whole thing....getting logged onto UCAS tmoro, how scary =S
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mollymustard
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I've had a pretty painless UCAS cycle so far, and I think thats because I visited as many universities as I could pre-application, and then I visited some a second time after I had an offer.

The more you visit, the more you realise where you really want to go and I really can't emphasise that enough. I know I want to go to Sheffield, and because I've always had something to aim for I've felt very positive about UCAS.

If you are currently in Year 12, then go to Open Days and have a good look. The more you go to now, the more likely you are to make an informed decision.

Don't rush your application either, you have lots of time to make it just right before Jan 15th. Its better to wait a little longer, and be certain about what you want to do rather than blundering into the system and making lots of silly mistakes.

Prepare yourself now! There is no point in waiting until you get your AS results before you start thinking about these things. You've got the whole of the summer to reflect on your plans and choose where you want to apply.
Research is the key, and UCAS online will help you. Order lots of prospectus's and look through them too just so you know which courses will suit you well.

And lastly: Don't panic if you get 'unsuccessful' replies from some Uni's. It happens to lots of people. I only got into 4 of my 5 choices, but I didn't let it get me down.
Staying positive is the only way to get through it.
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eve_22
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#14
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When does the 2009 UCAS application cycle starts? Just checking whether I got it correct-1st September...
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Rainfaery
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#15
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Okay, I have a question about personal statements.

How much of it do universities want to be focused on your subject, and how much of it should be focused on other things, like extracurriculars?

Is it possible to show you are passionate for your subject without coming off as very cheesy?
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Archibald246
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If your teacher tells you to work on your personal statement over the summer- do it! I had so much on in that first term of year 13, that doing my personal statement took a back seat and then I had to cram over it!
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Juno
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(Original post by Rainfaery)
Okay, I have a question about personal statements.

How much of it do universities want to be focused on your subject, and how much of it should be focused on other things, like extracurriculars?

Is it possible to show you are passionate for your subject without coming off as very cheesy?
About 70% should be on the subject, and 30% on extra-curriculars. But that's only a guide, and some extra-curriculars will be subject related anyway.

Yes, you can sound passionate but not cheesy.

:juno:
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Hedgehunter
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Are Common Entrance grades 'relevent'?
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shootbangfire
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#19
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Make sure you don't put too much extra-curricular compared to curricular.
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~*~rAiNbOw~*~
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#20
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do you have to declare your AS grades or can you put them pending? (for the 2009 application cycle)
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