Five things to do now if you still want to apply to uni before the January deadline

Don't stress! You've still got time

Decided that university is right for you, but you've not started your application yet? Don't panic, it's not too late.

In this article, we'll go through the things you need to do if the calendar's showing January, and your university application's not yet begun.

You'll need to be organised, but follow these steps and you should be able to get everything sorted by the deadline.

For starting university in the autumn of 2024, the main Ucas application deadline is 31 January 2024.

Make sure your school or college know that you're going to apply

If you haven't already told your school or college that you're planning to apply to uni, get this sorted as soon as you can.

They're going to be asked to provide a personal reference, which will form part of your application. This will generally be done by one of your teachers or your head of year, and it can take a while to get done. By giving them as much time as possible, you can help your appliction run smoothly.

Ask your school or college for its Ucas buzzword, too. This is a unique word that you can add as part of your application on Ucas Hub. It helps connect your application with where you're currently studying, so your teachers can more easily see what they need to be doing to help your application progress.

Talk to your teacher about their reference

Now your teachers know you'll need a reference, it's a good idea to chat to them about it.

This reference is an important part of your application. Find out which teacher will be writing it and book in some time with them.

You can show them a draft of your personal statement, so they have a good understanding of what you want to achieve.

You can also talk to them about the universities and courses you're applying to - and why you've picked them. This is all information that will help them write a reference that's supportive of your application.

Get that personal statement finished

When it comes to your personal statement, writer's block is very real. But this doesn't have to hold up your application - you really can get this sorted in an hour or two. 

Just write simply and honestly and explain why you want to study the course you’re applying for. Share why you're a capable applicant. The more personal it is, the better.

Explain the subject knowledge you already have and highlight how this will support your success at university, plus any other relevant skills or experiences. 

Once you think you’ve nailed it, get someone who knows you well to give it a read and give you feedback. Finally, get it over to your teacher for one last check.

Make sure you've included all your personal information on Ucas

Double check everything you have written, which boxes you’ve ticked and what grades you've included. Now's the time to rinse out any mistakes.

Make sure you have included all of your exam grades (even if you think they’re not good enough or not worth mentioning) and make sure you’ve selected the correct grades. 

Get someone to check your application before you send it off

It’s easy to miss things, so make sure you get a parent or another family member or friend to go through what you have written and included in your application.

Get them to double check the exam grades you have entered, as well as the course and university Ucas codes to ensure you’re applying to the right places!

Still not sure?

If all of this turns your stomach upside down and you still don’t feel ready to apply, it’s OK. The main application window stays open until the end of June; the main difference in applying after the January deadline is simply that the most competitive courses will start to fill up.

Once you get to July, Clearing opens. Thousands of courses are available in Clearing every year, and if you apply this way the process can actually be a bit more straightforward.

For some students, taking a gap year is the right choice. That way, you can apply for courses with your exam results already in hand - and potentially build up some work or life experience during a year out of studying.

So if you’d rather just focus on nailing your studies and your exams, go for it.

And whatever you decide, good luck!