Heading to university? It’s time to narrow your university choices down to two

Completing your UCAS application was just the beginning – now you need to ensure you choose the two universities which suit you best

For those of you in sixth form or college, you’re hopefully receiving university offers thick and fast right now. Whilst you can take a minute to bask in the glory of holding those offers, there’s no time to rest on your laurels. You’ve now got the hard task of choosing a “firm” and “insurance” choice – a challenge which requires research, careful consideration, and belief in yourself.

Whether you have an abundance of offers to choose from, or you’re trying to come to terms with not being accepted at the university you really wanted, here’s our advice on what you should do next.

Take your time before making final decisions

Being in a rush to accept an offer rarely ends well. Take your time to start your research all over again by visiting the university website and examining the course outlines. Do as much research before the response deadline date as you can.

Remember, the majority of offers are conditional, so you’ll need the right grades to ensure your place at university is secure.

Ditch the rose tinted spectacles

Open days are the best way to get to know a university and its location before you make your final choice.

Make sure you look at the city or town as a whole, rather than just sticking to the campus tours and university buildings. The university may have a great reputation and wonderful facilities, but if the town doesn’t suit you, it could impact negatively on your university experience.

You never known, attending a university open day for a second time could change your mind. You may have remembered things not quite as they really are or somewhere you’ve discounted could surprise you when you take a second look.

Make sure your chosen university is “the one”

We talk about needing to find “the one” in relationships, but it’s also vital when you’re choosing a university. After all, you’re going to be stuck together for at least three years.

Be ambitious but realistic when it comes to choosing a university. whilst some universities will accept grades close to their requirements after A Level results day, don’t over stretch yourself and apply to a university whose entry requirements a miles above your predicted grades.

If you’ve got your heart set on a particular university then consider a gap year or Clearing as options if you don’t get accepted.

When it comes down to it, your firm choice needs to be your favourite university. League tables and where your friends are going just aren’t important.

Also be wary of unconditional offers. Whilst this might seem like a safe bet and take some of the pressure off of your exams, you need to consider what you want from university, both whilst you’re there and in terms of what you’ll get at the end of it.

Be sure to research your insurance choice too

You should consider your insurance choice as carefully as your firm choice and research them both thoroughly. Once you’ve made an insurance choice you have to stick to it, so it’s still a commitment.

If you don’t want to go there, don’t put it on your UCAS application. A careless insurance choice could lead to you dreading the start of your university journey, rather than rejoicing on results day.

Again, be realistic with your insurance choice. If you’ve aimed high with your firm choice then choose a university whose entry requirements are in line with your current grades as your insurance choice.

Don’t panic if you’ve changed your mind or have no offers

Be patient if you don’t have any offers yet – universities send out their offers at different times.

However, if you do find yourself without any offers then consider why that’s happened. Do you fall short of a basic requirement, such as a particular GCSE grade? If this is the case, try applying for a different course or taking a gap year to gain the GCSE you need before reapplying.

You can also use UCAS Extra if you haven’t got any offers or you’ve changed your mind and want to reject your offers. Extra is open from 25th February until early July and allows you to apply for another university or course before Clearing opens.