Now the UCAS deadline has passed, you might be tempted to rush your uni application: applications after the 15th are done on a first-come-first-served basis, so the sooner the better, right? WRONG. Putting in a late UCAS application still needs to be done with care, and if you’re thinking of putting in a late application the weeks just after the deadline aren’t the best time. Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t apply to uni right now.
January isn't the best time to apply
In the weeks just after the deadline, universities are busy processing existing applications, so it won’t be clear yet which courses are full and which still have spaces left. That means that if you rush to get your application in now you may apply to a course and then find out that it has already been filled. By waiting until February you’ll be able to get a much clearer picture of what courses are still accepting applications – this is the sweet spot between when universities know which courses have spaces available and when they start filling up. The next deadline to apply is June 30th (although even if you miss this deadline you can still go through clearing), so you don’t want leave things too late as spaces get taken, but at this point you don’t want to be too hasty either.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your options or aren’t happy with what’s available, then remember you can take a gap year and apply again next year. This is beneficial for a few reasons. If you know what you want to study you can seek out relevant work experience, which will broaden your experience and give you more to write about in your personal statement. The extra time can also help you to solidify exactly what you want to do. When you apply next year you’ll also have your confirmed grades which takes a lot of stress out of the application process as you won’t have to worry about conditional offers.
Give yourself more time to research
Holding off on your application will also give you more time to properly research your choices and make sure you’re making the right decision. If you can, use this time to visit universities – remember, you don’t need to go to an official open day; you’ll still be able to walk around the campus and get a feel for the location.
You can also speak to other students in the university forums to find out about the student experience and what it’s like studying your chosen subject. Taking your time over your research and being certain about where you want to apply is essential. You don’t want to submit your application in a panic and then realise later you’re not happy with your choices or you’ve overlooked something important.
A application submitted later is better than a rushed one
The application process is the same as before the deadline, and you’ll want to make sure your application is as good as it can be. You’ll also need to make sure you have a reference, as you can’t apply without one. Make sure you’ve contacted your referee and are certain that they’ll be able to write one for you. If they can’t, then you’ll have to wait until next year’s cycle.
You’ll also need a good personal statement. Our Personal Statement Builder can help get you started, and you can get further help in the Personal Statement Advice forum. Taking some extra time to make sure you really nail your personal statement will help your application, and is better than rushing the process.
Remember that taking a gap year is a good option, so if you’re feeling pressured to apply because all your friends are going, or you don’t know what else to do, then take a breath and consider if a year out won’t help you get a clearer picture of your goals. And don't worry, you won't be the only person applying later so there will be other freshers from your year, too.