The Struggles Of UCAS Applications

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Applying to uni and completing your UCAS university application can be extremely stressful. Here's why in six simple, infuriating steps.

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If you’ve been there and done that, you’ll know that the struggles of applying to uni are completely and utterly 100% real. Potentially signing your life off to an additional three or more years of education is a scary commitment. Chances are you’ve been in school for a good fourteen/fifteen years if you’re going through this pain, but according to the many who have been and loved university, it is completely worthwhile. But for the time being, you’ve got six struggle-some steps to overcome.

Knowing What You Want To Do At A Young Age

Dunno what to do

You know when people, family members, teachers, neighbours and basically every adult you’ve ever made contact with asks you what you want to do with the rest of your life when you’re only sixteen? Yeah. That’s hard. The whole concept of deciding what you want to do until you turn sixty-five/seventy/ninety before you’re finally allowed to retire is difficult. Because in reality, you can have career changes. That’s understandable. But when you’re sixteen it’s as if you’ve been handed a waiver on which you have to declare your future path and whatnot. You may as well be writing down future wedding dates and the birthdays of your yet-to-be-born children you may have when you’re 34.

Finding A Course, Uni & Location With Reasonable Grades

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My gosh the number of factors you have to take into consideration is mindblowing. Once you’ve finally thought of a subject you wouldn’t really mind studying for the next few years, you gotta know what type of degree you want (Bachelor of Arts or Sciences? Foundation degree? There’s a tonne to consider). You can narrow down the locations of where you’d be happy to move to. Not a fan of rainy weather? Don’t move to Wales. Don’t want to be a poor student to the power of three? Avoid London, simples. Upon deciding this you’ve then reached the toughest criteria: grades. You may find your dream uni but if they’re wanting grades that far surpass what you believe you can get, perhaps think again. Don’t be afraid to aim high – that’s why you have five UCAS choices, after all. But don’t be that person who applies for five that they have little chance of getting offers from – it may lead to disappointment.

Endless UCAS Details

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The stuff that you didn’t even realise you knew about yourself comes into the mix at this point. Your residential category? Your fee code? Student support arrangements? It’s all a bit difficult really. Putting in each grade you’ve achieved at GCSE and AS Level is laborious but worthwhile – it shows off the work you’ve put in up to this point (or lack thereof). Remember to make sure you get each and every grade right as well as each exam board – failing to do this may result in disqualification and make all of this effort you’ve put in a waste of time.

 The Dreaded Personal Statement


If there’s two words (other than ‘Monday morning’) that have the ability to send physical shivers down my spine it’s ‘personal statement’. 4,000 characters and 47 lines of trying to show off as much as possible without coming across as cocky is the fundamental description of the essay that will undoubtedly become the bane of your life. I took six drafts (and many hours of writing) before finally sending mine off, and even at that point I only had two characters to spare. Do you really need to mention that time you once helped out in the library? Probably not. But remember the key details. They want to know why you want to study your chosen course and what you’ve done to prove this, as well as extra-curriculars to show you off as being as rounded as Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But ladies and gentlemen, whatever you do, avoid the word ‘passion’ at all costs. They want you to show off this so-called passion without using the dreaded term. I’ve actually heard horror stories about admission officers disposing of/shredding personal statements upon locating the word in their writing. You don’t want to be that person whose efforts have gone to waste. Literally.

Sending The Damn Thing Off


So finally you’ve coordinated everything. You’ve made contact with your referee (usually a teacher who knows you well or your Head of Year) who has hopefully, fingers crossed, written you a good ol’ reference that shows you off to be a capable human being.  You pay the £23 cost (or £11 if you’re only applying to one course) and feel liberated. Everything is done. You’re finished. Your work here is complete.

The Waiting Game


Who am I kidding? Your work may be done but that doesn’t mean that the process is over. By no means is it over. You’ll spend the next few days checking your email so frequently you’d think you’re waiting to receive a hefty online cheque from your long-lost rich uncle. You’ll get an email. ‘University application’ the subject will be. Your heart will inevitably beat quickly, as the anticipation of receiving your first of hopefully numerous offers is obviously too much to handle. ‘Yes’, you think. The first has undoubtedly swiftly dropped into your inbox. ‘Argh’ your next reaction will inevitably be. So the university ‘have received your application’. Brilliant. ‘Well, at least I’m getting somewhere’. For the time being, you’ll check UCAS Track a good few twelve times a day, waiting for the moment your future is decided.


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