Thursday, 4 December 2014

Meet our bloggers!

We have nine bloggers who’ve volunteered to share their different experiences with you throughout the year. Amongst them are people applying to uni, first year students and parents. Read a little more about them below…….

Anna Whittaker
Anna would like to study journalism and will be blogging about applying to uni. She hasn't had to wait long to hear back from her uni choices and has already attended an interview at one of them. While at the interview, she began to see herself at that university, so give her blog a read and check how she’s getting on. 

Scott Taylor
Scott’s a first year broadcast journalism student who’ll be blogging about his journey through university life. He writes about the importance of getting involved with freshers’ week and studying a subject you’re passionate about. He’ll also reflect on applying to university last year and offering handy tips for anyone with nerves about applying this year. 

Nicola Maclean
Nicola is a year 13 student applying to study English literature and she’s been lucky enough to receive offers fairly quickly after sending in her application. She’ll be blogging about her application and how she and her friends are dealing with the excitement of receiving university decisions.

Julie Ricketts
Julie is the parent of a first year student, and she’ll be blogging about the mixture of emotions any parent will go through when seeing their child go to university. She’ll also be sharing any helpful tips she comes across to other parents in a similar position. 

Martin Taylor
Martin will share the experience of having his youngest daughter make the transition from teenager to ‘responsible adult’ while at university. His daughter took a gap year before starting university and, among other things, he’ll be blogging about why he feels this has served her well in the long-run.

Henriette Stoll
Henriette is a first year student from Germany who is studying PR and advertising. She’ll be sharing the cultural differences between being a student in Germany and moving to England, as well as her experiences of meeting new people, being away from her family and adapting to the language. Check out how she’s dealing with life in London in her blog

Lauren Vipond
Lauren is a first year student studying physiotherapy at Keele University. She’ll be updating her fresher’s diary to share her journey through fresher-dom, joining societies and juggling her busy social life with her course. She’ll be looking back on her UCAS application from last year and also updating her blog with the various things she’s experienced so far while at uni. 

Megan Fitzsimons
Megan will be blogging as a first year student, sharing her hectic experience of life as a fresher, including the infamous ‘freshers’ flu’ and adapting quickly to her housemates. She’ll also touch on the amount of people you meet in a short time and how to keep yourself busy away from lectures.

Lily Fisher
Lily is applying to start university. She’ll be sharing her journey and offering helpful advice to anyone else going through the same process in her blog.

Enjoy the blogs, they’ll give you a better insight into applying to uni and student life from different perspectives. Feel free to leave them a comment on their blog posts if you have any questions for them. 

This month we have the first Blogger of the Month competition, you can vote for your favourite here.

If you have any questions about your application send us a message on Facebook or Twitter. Did you know we have a game? Download Uni Leap for iOS or Android now. 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

How to prepare for interviews, auditions and tests

Depending on the kind of courses you apply for, your chosen unis and colleges may invite you for an interview or audition – in fact they’re compulsory for some courses, such as teaching and nursing.

They’re a way for both students and course tutors to find out if they’re mutually suitable. If invited, your chosen uni will make sure you have all the details so you know where to go and when. The interviewers may want to see work examples – such as an essay or piece of coursework – but they’ll let you know this in advance.

Here are some quick tips from us:

  1. Plan ahead – check where you’ve got to go, when you’ve got to be there and try to sleep well the night before so you’re in the best possible position on the day.
  2. Make a good first impression – show up on time, dress appropriately, remember your manners and be in control of your body language. Interviewers see hundreds (sometimes thousands) of students so make sure you stand out for all the right reasons.
  3. Try your best to relax – although interviews are a daunting experience, try to enjoy it once you’re there. If the unexpected happens and they ask a question you’re not prepared for, don’t panic – ask your interviewer to rephrase or repeat the question and give it your best shot. They won’t be trying to catch you out.
  4. Read your personal statement – your interviewer will have your application fresh in their mind, so make sure you can remember what you wrote and be prepared to talk about it.
  5. Shout about your achievements – well don’t literally shout, but be prepared to talk passionately about things you’ve done which you’re proud of – for example coursework, charity work or a social event you might have organised. If it demonstrates key skills that are linked to your chosen course, mention it.
  6. Ask questions – you need to convince your interviewer that you’ve got a real passion for your subject, so come prepared with questions to show that you’ve really thought about studying the subject at your chosen uni.
  7. Reflect on it afterwards – when you come out of the interview room, allow time to make notes on how it went. If you’ve got more than one interview, this will give you something to work on for the next one.
For more interview tips, take a look at our how to prepare for interviews video guide.
Instead of an interview you may be asked to submit a portfolio or take an admissions test. In this case, the university will let you know what you need to do and when by. If for any reason you can’t meet their requirements you must let them know as early as possible.

Friday, 28 November 2014

How to avoid deadline drama....

The 15 January deadline isn't too far away so we’d like to share some tips with you to make sure you don’t miss it! The deadline for most courses is 18:00 UK time on 15 January, but if you’re not sure you can check the details for your courses in our search tool. Your entire application, including a reference, must be sent to us by this time to be classified as on time.

To apply on time and be in with the best chance of being accepted follow these five steps.

1. Know your login details for Apply

First of all, we’ll start with the basics. Make sure you know your login details. If you can’t log into Apply then try and resolve the issue online. If you’re still having problems you’ll need to give us a call so we can reset your password.

2. Give yourself plenty of time to complete your personal statement

You don’t want to be rushing your personal statement at the last minute and risk missing out vital information. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time before the deadline to draft a version offline, ready to put in your application. If you’re struggling for ideas of what to include then this blog post has lots of advice to help you along the way. We also have some top tips from Jane Marshall, who reads personal statements for a university.

3. Make sure the reference is complete

When someone misses the deadline it’s often to do with confusion about the reference section. Your referee must complete a reference before your application can be sent. You can check the status by logging in and checking the message on the home screen.

i) If you’re applying through your school or college:

After you've sent your application to your school or college, you should see a message on the ‘Welcome page.’ It’ll either say your application has been sent or that we are waiting for your centre to finish your reference or send your application.

If your centre hasn't completed a reference or sent your application then it’s best to check with them that they’ll be able to complete this for you before the deadline.

ii) If you’re applying independently:

Does the reference section have a red tick against it? If so then it’s been completed by your referee and you’ll be able to send us your application once you've completed all the other sections. If the reference box has three green dots then it means it’s still incomplete. Speak to your referee to make sure they’re happy to provide you with a reference before the deadline.

4. You’ll need to pay before you can send your application

When you come to make your payment, wait for the transaction to go through. As soon as it’s been processed the ‘Pay/Send’ section will be marked with a red tick.

It’s worth leaving plenty of time to make a payment in case you encounter any problems. If you’re applying through a centre then your school or college won’t be able to process your application until you've made a payment so try not to leave it until the last day!

If you’re applying independently then the payment will be the last thing you need to do.

5. Be prepared, your school or college may send your application back to you

Sometimes your centre may return your application if they feel you've entered any information incorrectly or missed off important details. You’ll receive an email when this happens but to be sure you can check this when you log in.

Once you've made the necessary changes you need to go through the ‘Pay/Send’ option. If you've made a payment already then you won’t be asked to do this again, you’ll only need to send your application back to your centre.

Once we've received your application you’ll get an email within 48 hours to confirm your application has been processed. Add as a contact in your address book to make sure the email doesn't fall into any junk folders.

And finally…… Good luck with your application!

If you have any questions about your application send us a message on Facebook or Twitter. If you've already applied and have some spare time on your hands, download our game Uni Leap for iOS or Android while you’re waiting for the universities’ decisions!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Teacher Training: three things you need to know.....

Recently we asked all those who started graduate teacher training programmes in 2013 what advice they had for anyone thinking about taking up a career in teaching. Here’s some of the advice and tips they shared:

1. Research the different types of programmes

The most frequent response we received really hammered home the need to do research into what kinds of teaching programmes would be suitable for you.

If you’re unsure about the different teacher training routes, try our interactive quiz to get a better idea of the opportunities on offer.

When you think you know what kind of programme you’re interested in, find where to study it in our search tool.

2. Be organised

Get as much information about the training programme as possible by speaking to admissions tutors and careers advisers, and take advantage of any open days and events that are going on.

Make sure you know what the entry requirements are for the programme you’re applying for – some providers require you to pass a professional skills test before you apply so be sure to check this first.

Training providers usually conduct interviews before offering places, so be aware that you may need to attend one shortly after applying.

3. “It’s hard work but a rewarding experience”

One of the most frequent responses we had was that teacher training is hard work but ultimately a very rewarding experience. Although the application process and training may appear daunting to some, a high percentage of the responses we received highlighted just how rewarding they found the experience.

“It is the most challenging, rewarding, unpredictable job in the world. There is nothing I'd rather be doing.”

“It's the most rewarding job out there and you really can make a difference!”

Everything you need to know about applying for teacher training programmes is on our website at You can also download our free UCAS Teacher Training pack now.

If you have any questions then send us a message on Facebook or Twitter and we'll get right back to you!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Help and advice for care leavers

Ben Jordan is the Senior Policy Executive at UCAS. Here he writes about why you’re asked whether you’re a care leaver on your application to university, and where you can find support if you have been in care.

Ben Jordan, Senior Policy Executive,
We aim to help people make informed choices that best suit their aspirations and abilities, and give them the best opportunity to succeed. We provide information and advice to around 670,000 university applicants each year, and of those there are people with a range of individual needs, including care leavers.

We know that there are a number of challenges faced by care leavers when progressing to university or college, so offering the chance to state whether you’re a care leaver on your application helps universities and colleges to offer support in a number of ways. 
Asking the question
To begin with, the question we ask in the personal details section is; 'Have you ever been in care?' If you respond 'Yes', we’ll ask how long you’ve been in care for. We’ve avoided using the statutory definition of a care leaver because we feel that by leaving it open we’re able to help all those who may need support. The question acts as a flag to universities and colleges, letting them know you have personal circumstances that may require extra support while you’re studying. They will often contact you to discuss the type of support you may need after they receive your application.

You also have the opportunity to provide information about your situation in the personal statement section of your application, although you can send details to the university or colleges separately if you prefer. 

For the 2015 application we have updated the help text for the 'in care' question to make it as clear as possible why you’re being asked, and to explain how universities and colleges may use this information.

Getting help
If you’re a care leaver or you’re helping someone who is, you’ll find lots of information and advice on our website to help you get support.

  • Information about the type of support offered by universities and colleges.
  • Details of the financial support available to care leavers.
  • Links to organisations that can offer further information, such as Buttle UK and The Who Cares? Trust, as well as a link to the Who Cares? Trust HE handbook.
  • A list of universities and colleges that have the quality mark for care leavers. 
  • A video with first-hand accounts from students who are care leavers.   

What do you think?
We will continue to support all applicants as they progress to higher education, including care leavers. If you have any ideas or suggestions about how we can best achieve this, please leave a comment below.