How do I get into university?

So, you’re getting ready to apply to university – hurray!

Hey there! If you’ve found yourself here, you’re probably getting ready for the ever-so-exciting process of applying to university (if not, sorry but you’re probably in the wrong place). 

If you do fall into the first category, congrats! Whether you’re feeling excited or apprehensive, you’ve undoubtedly got an exciting journey ahead of you. 

Going to university can often feel like a rite of passage – moving away from home, learning how to ‘adult’ (somewhat), and meeting people from all sorts of backgrounds, rather than just your hometown. Oh, and getting yourself a degree, hopefully. 

You’ve already taken the first step to prepare for the journey by Googling your burning questions about university admissions, so good job – but don’t sit back and relax just yet. You’ve got lots to do! 

University admissions can be tough, and we know you’ve probably got a lot of questions. That’s why we’re here – to help you answer some of them. Or maybe you’ll even leave with some more questions than you started with. 

That’s still okay, because it means that we’ve at least got you thinking! 

After all, university isn’t exactly something you want to do without giving it plenty of thought, since it’s a pretty time-consuming, wallet-crunching affair. 

The point is, if you’re here, you’ve most likely made the decision to go to university, which is great! You’re definitely not alone, since you’ll be joining around 2.38 million other students studying at UK universities

This ultimate guide to university admissions will hopefully cover most of what you need to know for the all-important process of getting ready for the next stage of your life. If we’ve missed anything, you can head over to the Yojana Forum with your questions – we know you’ve probably got about a million or more. 

In the meantime… how are you supposed to get started with applying to university?

When do I need to get everything done?

Let’s get you started with a clear, detailed timeline. The best way to prepare for the storm ahead is to know what’s coming! 

To-Do List  

How am I supposed to do this all by myself?

So, you’ve clearly got a lot to do. How on earth are you meant to get it all done yourself?

And here’s the beauty of it – you don’t have to. Sure, you’ll have to do the work for your personal statement by yourself, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have it checked over by your teachers, friends or family to get a useful second opinion. If you’re stuck at home unable to visit your top five universities yet, the wonders of technology can even let you get a 360 view of your university grounds before even stepping foot there. 

The point is, you’ll have a ton of varied resources at your disposal to help you almost each step of the way of applying to university – if you want them. Some great examples might come in the form of: 

As you can see, there are plenty of resources at your disposal to help make your journey through university admissions that little bit easier. Now you’ve just got to make sure you make good use of them! 

To summarise...

Overall, applying to university isn’t as difficult as you might think. The key thing is to make sure you know what to do, and make sure you get it done by the right time. Personal statements, listing your university choices, getting recommendations from your teachers, preparing for interviews, the lot. As long as you put in some effort to stay organised and time-efficient, you’ll be striding into university halls in no time.

Also, if you’re still on the fence about everything, taking a look through the process you’ll have to go through ahead can really help you decide if it’s worth it for you. Remember, you can always change your mind as you go along – but if you don’t try in the first place, you might not even know what could’ve happened. 

Now, for the first step… how do you go about choosing a degree and university?

How do I choose my degree and university?

So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. What do you want to study and where do you want to study it? But more importantly for both topics – why? 

5 things I wish I knew before I chose my degree

As someone who’s in the process of applying to jobs with a nice old 2:1 degree in the Humanities under my belt – and from knowing about my friends’ varied experiences after graduating – there’s a thing or two I wish someone had told me before choosing. So anyway, I’m going to let you in on them, on the off-chance that it helps you too. 

1. Don’t just pick your degree based on what you think looks good to others. Sometimes we do things based on what we think others will like, or will look most impressive to them – when it comes to what degree YOU’LL be studying for the next 3+ years, it’s important not to! Whether you think Economics is the best subject for you to get into Investment Banking, or you’re put off of taking a subject you’d enjoy because you think it seems too ‘fluffy’ or easy – don’t let yourself be fooled. There is no ‘easy’ subject, and whilst it’s important to keep career prospects in mind, don’t be pressured into thinking you should take one degree because it looks better than the rest. It won’t look better when you come out of it with a 3rd-class degree because it wasn’t in something you were good at, or even enjoyed. Do what feels best for you.

2. Speak to past university students about their degree and module choices. Something I found really useful in my time at university was to ask past students I had come into contact with about what modules they did or didn’t enjoy doing, or what a certain tutor’s marking style was like, to help me decide if I would enjoy it. Obviously your own decision is the most important here, but getting opinions from people who’ve actually taken a module, or even a degree, is always extremely insightful – especially if they’re happy to answer your more specific questions.

3. Look into combined honours degrees if you like more than one subject. Sometimes what we enjoy doesn’t just fit into one subject – here comes the beauty of combined honours degrees. If you like History but want to focus more on modern global issues, why not choose History with International Relations? Or if you want to take Economics but you’ve always had a passion for German as well, why not take them both? Look into what combinations work at your chosen universities, and bear in mind you may have overlapping deadlines – but don’t limit yourself to just one subject if you’re curious for more! 

4. Find out if you can take optional modules from other courses within your degree. One thing I really wish I took advantage of more was the option to take certain optional modules outside of my degree. On my year abroad I had the chance to take beginner-level Chinese (Mandarin), which I found incredibly interesting and challenging. If you develop any specific interests or become curious to learn about something outside of your subject, grab the opportunity whilst you can – university is the best time to learn about things outside your comfort zone. 

5. Don’t be tricked by less contact hours. Just because a subject says it only has 10 contact hours a week compared to another’s 30 hours, doesn’t mean you get less work! For many Humanities subjects, you might have less contact time in lectures and seminars, but you need to do a LOT of reading in your time off to be prepared for these – and it’s not all optional. So bear this in mind before you go happily choosing a subject based on ‘less work to do’ – less can definitely be more!

So, by now you might have some idea of how to (or how not to) choose what degree to take. If you’re still not 100% there, don’t worry – this next step will help with the rest of the job.

As you can see, there are plenty of resources at your disposal to help make your journey through university admissions that little bit easier. Now you’ve just got to make sure you make good use of them! 

Which universities should I apply to?

Deciding where to go to university can be largely based on your degree – but that’s definitely not all.

Some of the things that might affect your decision could also be: 

    • Location
    • League tables – though try not to solely focus on this part! 
    • City or campus environment
    • Student accommodation
    • Financial factors
    • Extracurricular opportunities
    • Nightlife

These are all factors that might crop up when you’re thinking about where to move for the next few years. But how do you know which degree at which university is definitely for you? 

The right answer is: there is no right answer. I know, you hate to hear it. But in all honesty, the best way to choose your university is to decide which one best meets your individual needs, AND to stay open-minded. 


Because although you’ll be striving to make it to at least five of your chosen universities, you might face a last-minute fallback – it could happen to anyone. And in that case, you don’t want to feel like your whole world is crumbling just because you set your mind on going to the ‘perfect university’. There is no such thing. 

Your university experience is what you make of it. At any university. 

What if I don't get the university or degree I want?

Life works in unexpected ways. Take Erica’s journey. After encouragement from her parents (her father being a doctor), she applied to the top universities for Medicine – Imperial College, St Andrews, UCL, Queen Mary’s. 

Now, Erica had demonstrated both an interest and aptitude for sciences at A-Level, but perhaps not quite as much as some of her peers. She was pretty good at sports, actually, but she didn’t think she could exactly take PE as a university degree. 

So she went for Medicine. She wrote a pretty strong personal statement, got great recommendations from her teachers, received huge support from her friends and family, studied hard for her A-Levels… and got no offers.

Pretty heartbreaking, right? 

However, she was offered alternative degree choices to Medicine from some of the universities she had applied to. Queen Mary’s gave her the choice of Physiotherapy and Sports Medicine, whilst UCL offered Pharmacology. 

In the end, she ended up missing the entry requirements for her alternative offers by a single grade, and went through a strenuous day of Clearing to decide her fate. She ended up taking Sports Science at Brunel University – neither the degree nor the university she had planned on. 

And guess what? She walked out of university halls with a shiny new first-class degree, commendable sports awards and honours, lifelong friends (with plenty of hilarious memories), a newfound confidence in herself – and now, a stable graduate job in a role she can challenge herself in.  

Although Erica is only one example, her story is a great indicator of what I mean when I say: your university experience will be what you make of it. Even if you don’t get an offer from your top university choice, or you don’t make the right grade for your dream degree, stay open-minded. There is no right way to get anywhere, and you’ll find your own unique way through, just like Erica did. 

“Don’t just pick a university because it’s ranked highly in league tables. I applied for and got into Cambridge but have found it a very stressful place to be and not beneficial to my mental health. Be honest with yourself about how much you can cope with and what kind of work/life balance you would like.”

– Lucy

Remember, don’t rush this stage. When you’ve got to choose 5 courses and 5 universities to decide on out of 50,000 undergraduate courses and 130 universities on UCAS, it’s safe to say you’re probably several pros-cons lists and university open days away from making your final decisions. Just don’t miss the deadline! 

Next up, let’s get down to business with the chunkiest part of your UCAS application – the big, old personal statement.

Predicted Grades & Personal Statements – What do I need to know?

Now, we’re getting to the real work on your UCAS application. Before you even get to starting your online application, however – how do you make sure you’re prepped with the best predicted grades you could possibly have?

How do I get my teachers to give me better predicted grades?

If you’ve watched Clueless, you might be thinking that you can get away with better predicted grades the way Cher managed to get away with it for every report card. The honest truth? No matter how great you are at the art of persuasion, the real magic happens when you put in the work. That way, when you convince your teachers you’ll do better, you might actually have some solid evidence of you already doing it. 

Even if you do convince your teachers you’re worthy of an A*AA rather than BCC, your persuasive tactics should reflect your drive – prioritise reading over binging TV series, and put in the extra work for assignments by asking teachers how you can do better. The more proactive behaviour you show, the more your teachers will believe in you – and the better chances you’ll have for your UCAS applications.

How do I write my personal statement?

If you need help on getting started with your personal statement, there’s a ton of handy tips to help make yourself stand out as the best possible candidate for all your chosen universities. 

On top of that, here are a few top tips on how to NOT go about writing it, whatever you may have heard from your peers, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. And yes, we’re talking about how it might not actually be that useful to talk about your Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award – sorry! 

How to NOT write your personal statement

  • Mention books that you haven’t read. You might have already Googled the top 10 books for your particular subject to cite in your personal statement, but our advice is – don’t. Think about what you’ve already read – during your time at school, or anything outside of it, that might relate to your subject or demonstrate your genuine interest. People can definitely see through your pretentious book quotes and get a sense of whether you’ve actually read them, or just used SparkNotes. 
  • Talk about your Duke of Edinburgh Award. Almost all of us have been there and done that, and yours might even have been one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had (?). However, newsflash: they don’t actually add that much value to your personal statement. Since everyone else has done it, you’d need to do a pretty good job of making yourself stand out when talking about it. 
  • Say ANYTHING that you can’t back up with an example. Use the STAR technique to test your own examples. If you’ve said you’re hard-working – so what? How are you going to convince them of that? Every statement you make, make sure to back it up fully – and know how to expand on it if you were speaking to someone about it in person. 
  • Send off your first draft without editing. I’m the kind of girl who has admittedly sent things off pretty late without reading over them, but trust me – your personal statement shouldn’t be one of them. Get people to read and review it MULTIPLE times. It’s only a short piece of writing, so it’s important to be as effective as possible in those 500 words. 
  • Don’t bother with quotes. Especially pretentious ones that have no proper relevance to you or your application. University admissions tutors have seen it all – they’re not looking for pretentiousness, they’re looking to read about why you want to take your subject, not what Aristotle said about it. 
  • Don’t bore them with an over-the-top origin story. Did you know that the top three most used opening lines for personal statements have been: 

    1. “I have always been interested in…” (used 927 times)

    2. “For as long as I can remember I have…” (used 1,451 times)

    3. “From a young age I have always been interested in/fascinated by…” (used 1,779 times)

Yeah, you don’t want to be using any of these for your opening line. In an application that literally thousands of others are completing at the same time for the exact same subject at the same university you’re going for, think about how to set yourself apart, not blend into the crowd. 

What do university admissions tutors ACTUALLY want to see?

Obviously it’s important to get your personality out in your personal statement, but it should be done in a very purposeful way. Remember, university admissions tutors have a checklist of things they’re looking to tick off in your personal statements. 

Some of the things we’ve heard are: 

  • Keep it simple. “The admissions director needs to read them swiftly. Straightforward and confident language works best.” – Alix Delany, head of admissions at UEA
  • Get it proofread. “Show it to as many people as possible – especially if you know anyone with a background in human resources.” – Simon Atkinson, medical student interviewer at Bristol
  • Use your own voice. “Personal statements are largely scored in an objective way. You need correct English, without looking like you’ve swallowed a thesaurus. I would avoid grandiose or highly idealistic statements such as ‘from the moment I was born I was destined to cure people’. That’s the kind of thing people write. Keep it prosaic and to the point.” – Simon Atkinson
  • Be honest. “With that in mind, applicants shouldn’t use anything they’re not comfortable talking about in detail.” – Julie Tucker, from the applicant services team at Falmouth University
  • Show your enthusiasm for your subject. “We’re checking that their enthusiasm is genuine. In particular, we should get an idea of where within your subject this enthusiasm lies.” – Dr Sam Lucy, director of admissions at Cambridge.  

“Personal statements are hard. It’s so awkward trying to get the right balance between being confident and showboating! Predicted grades are also something that fortunately didn’t get in the way for me, although many of my friends were heavily affected by them! I had no idea how to start my personal statement and ended up using some random template online. This means I had to adapt my information to suit the needs of the template. On reflection, you will be best developing your own template from your own personal ideas! After all, a personal statement is a tool used to distinguish you from the rest.” 

– Josh

What are my career prospects from going to university?

Whilst university can be an incredibly exciting prospect for many reasons – growing more independent, going on wild nights out, joining societies you never thought existed (Quidditch Society, anyone?) – it can be easy to forget that you’re ultimately trying to get a degree that will help you become an employable adult at the end of it. 

What questions should I be asking about career prospects?

  • Will my chosen degree help make me more employable?
  • What kind of career paths do I have in mind? Are they flexible with degree requirements? 
  • Do my personality traits and preferences suit the types of careers this type of degree can lead me to? 
  • What are my salary expectations with this degree? 
  • Will I need to take a masters to help my career prospects?
  • What if I change my mind about what degree I want to do? 

It’s a scary thing to think about if you haven’t got it all planned, isn’t it? If you’ve already got a solid career goal in mind, then that’s great! But just remember that there are probably many careers you haven’t heard about or been exposed to yet. 

That’s why it’s important to stay open to possibilities – even if you’re set on a particular career, you might end up changing your mind during or after university once you’ve seen more of the world. 

Should I take a degree that leads me to a specific career?

You might even end up in a career path completely unrelated to your degree, which is more common than you’d think – did you know that only 27% of graduates actually end up in the field related to their degree? 

I know what you’re thinking – “wow, then what’s the point of me spending all this time worrying about what I should take for a degree?” There IS a point. Just because your degree doesn’t necessarily determine your career path, doesn’t at all mean that it won’t help your career. Quite the contrary, actually. 

Here are just a few examples of career paths that DON’T require a specific degree course: 

  • PR and Marketing
  • Accountancy
  • Teaching
  • Law
  • Intelligence Services
  • Journalism
  • Advertising
  • Retail management
  • Human resources
  • Civil Service roles
  • Working at a start-up

If you’re interested in working for the Big Four, for example, you definitely don’t need to just be studying Accountancy or Economics. Many of the biggest firms don’t even require a 2:1 degree – EY removed its UCAS and degree classification for their entry requirements, and both Deloitte and KPMG have introduced more flexibility for if you narrowly miss their minimum UCAS requirements. 

So… what’s the point in studying for a degree you might not even end up using? 

The magic phrase here is… transferable skills. 

I myself took a History degree with no intention of becoming a History lecturer or an archivist, and instead have gone into the route of digital marketing. Why? Because whilst I’m not using my knowledge of how American prisoners-of-war were treated in North Korea in 1951, I AM using my skills of being able to conduct extensive research, craft a well-backed persuasive argument, and demonstrate my strong aptitude for written communication. Those are the skills that helped me secure internships and entry-level roles in digital marketing. 

Whilst your degree can help you decide what career path you want to take, you should never feel constrained by the little piece of paper you’re going to be studying so hard for. It’s the transferable skills that will stay with you for life, not the specific knowledge you acquired. 

How do I know what career I'd be suited to?

One thing I would highly recommend is taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or the 16 Personalities test. Whilst it’s important to remember that no personality test can necessarily tell you exactly what career you’d be best suited for – they don’t know you personally! – they can definitely help give you a sense of awareness as to which sort of roles your traits and preferences may lead you to thrive in… and those you might want to stay clear of.

There’s obviously a ton of tests around – others I’d recommend are the Prospects Job Match or The Big Five Personality Test, but I’ve found the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) one to be one of the most accurate in terms of:

1. Giving me a sense of my personality preferences (where I get my energy, how I make decisions and what kind of structure I’d like in a workplace), and

2. Suggesting roles that weren’t just suited to me based on my personality, but that I already had an interest in

It’s a great way of getting a comprehensive report on your personality, and – especially important for this part – help you think about what careers you might be suited for. It’s also one of the most-used assessments by careers centres and managers alike, so if you develop a strong sense of self-awareness this early, you’ll be miles ahead of your fellow classmates AND have a higher chance of impressing your future employers. 

Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a good personality quiz, right?

What other career factors do I need to think about?

Whilst a personality test can help you understand what aspects you might enjoy in a workplace, putting it into practice is a whole different ball game. In the real world, there’s a lot more to think about. 

Usually, your university will have a whole team or department dedicated to helping their students with their future prospects. So if you haven’t got it all figured out yet, relax… you’ve got plenty of people there to help you when you need it. In between your busy upcoming university years, just remember to actually reach out to them once in a while!

Want to know how your subject leads to jobs and careers? careerpilot.org.uk has all the careers information in one place to help you explore and decide.

Top Tip to Build Up Your Employability At University

The secret that all successful university students know is to be proactive whilst at university to build up your employability – outside of your degree.

It can be easy to think that just getting a 2:1 or even a 1st class degree is enough to get you a job. These days, there will be thousands of others getting exactly the same qualification from exactly the same university. So, why should employers choose you? 

That’s why you need to make yourself extraordinary. 

You’ll need to take risks you haven’t taken before. For example:

  • Obtain a position of leadership. Join a society you really like the sound of. Attend consistently so people remember you (even at socials!). Become so involved that you get elected for a position of responsibility. 
  • Or even better, start your own society or club. Several of my friends found a gap in the market at the Freshers’ Fair and they started up their own innovative societies. Whatever shows you being proactive. 
  • If these sound too scary, you can start smaller. Aim to be consistent at something outside of your degree (not just partying!) so you can learn something new, develop new skills, and become really really great at it. 
  • Whether you take the bold move to get to a position of leadership, balance numerous responsibilities alongside your degree, or even just consistently practise so you develop a great new skill – these are all great ways to ensure you’re standing out at university. Ultimately, you want to build skills throughout university WHILST having a good time that will bolster your CV, and get you one step closer to where you want to be.

“How to find work experience while at university? I am a tutor, I work as a part-time barista, I am VP of KCL Neuroscience Society and in September 2020 I will start working in a neuroscience-focused lab. When I started university, I was very stressed about getting work experience and submitting applications and cover letters. Now that I am a bit more comfortable and familiar with the (messy) world of student jobs, I wanted to share my advice with fellow students.” 

– Rita

Speaking of employability – let’s move onto university interviews! 

How do I prepare for university interviews?

Whilst not that many UK universities interview their applicants, and some of those that do might only hold them for certain courses, there’s still a chance that you’ll be invited to interview for your chosen course – and when you do, you’ll want to be prepared for it. What’s more, learning to ace interviews is one of the most valuable skills you could develop for your future career – in this day and age, it’s never too early to start thinking about it! 

With 2.3 million graduates searching for a job at any given time and an average of 80 graduates applying for every job in the UK, developing great interview skills will significantly increase your employability for when you’re fresh out of university.

Don’t believe us? Have a look at the facts – results from a survey of 2,000 hiring managers claim that 33% of them knew they would hire someone in the first 90 seconds. That’s a very quick amount of time to make a first impression, and if you’re going to be applying to Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College or University College London (UCL), interviews will most likely form a large part of the admissions process. 

“I was always a last-minute planner and struggled to find any sources that gave me a clear direction for my interview plan. My goal was to create a step-by-step guide that outlined the fundamentals of university interviews, so you can craft the plan you need to be successful. When going through this stage, I remember the lack of content that actually helped me devise a plan. Whilst there were a huge range of sources, nothing suggested how I could utilise the interview techniques.” 

– Joshua

It’s not always easy to prepare for interviews, especially if there’s a ton of resources – but no real guidance on how to use them! There’s a lot to think about when formulating a plan to stand out in university interviews – and not just about what to do, but how to do it well

For some universities such as Oxbridge, interviews are just one part of the application process. You might get more than one interview, as well as pre-interview tests – so keep this in mind if you’re set on applying to Oxbridge

I was very lucky in that I went to a school that was used to a lot of their students applying to Oxbridge so I had a lot of support, especially for the interviews (I think they gave us two practise interviews). I’m not sure how common a situation this is to be in so [my story might not be universal for everyone!]

Another problem with my own experience is that the entrance process (for Cambridge at least) has changed a lot since I applied as they still had AS levels then so I had those UMS on my application and the interview test wasn’t as big of a deal. Now I think they care much more about the results you get in the pre-interview test so I would suggest practising for that as much as possible.” 

– Lucy

There are also more specific university courses that might call you in for an interview, particularly professional training degrees such as dentistry, primary education, social work and nursing

Others might include talent-based degrees, such as music, art, design, or acting, but even some science and engineering courses may interview. The point is, you never know, and it can’t hurt to be prepared for the scenario in case!

Even if you’re not going to be applying to these universities or courses, it’s still a good idea to brush up on your interview skills for university admissions anyway – they could come in handy more often than you think. For instance, in any of these cases: 

When will I need good interview skills for/during university?

  • When applying for a part-time job to help fund your social life – whether that’s in customer service, a remote internship or working for the university help desk.
  • When taking part in elections to become a society president, or for any other position of responsibility for that matter -you’ll most likely have to try hard to stand out from several other candidates trying to get that same experience on their CV!
  • When applying for student internships or placements – if you’re trying to get a student internship through your university, or your course includes a year in industry, you’ll find that your strong interview skills will become your best friend. 

In any case, whether you’ve got an interview lined up for a university or not, equipping yourself with the best tips and tricks will help ensure that you stand out as a candidate they can’t say no to, and definitely go a long way to boost your chances of success.

How do I get through Clearing/ Adjustment?

So, you just missed the grades for both your firm and insurance universities – now what? 

First of all, breathe. It’s not the end of the world, and there’s plenty of hope for you still! All you have to do is keep calm, accept the situation, and then quickly get yourself prepared for the process of Clearing.

What should I expect if I go into Clearing?


Between July and October – the window for you to ‘shop around’ for available courses after finding out your exam results. Keep checking UCAS using the search tool, as vacancies will be continually updated, and contact universities directly.


  • Your university may still accept you. Their decision might depend on whether they think you will still succeed in your chosen course, bearing in mind the grades you’ve achieved, and whether they still have places available on the course.
  • You can go into Clearing. Now that you’ve got your results, you can browse for available university courses on UCAS. Try to act as quickly as possible and get your phone-voice ready – contacting the universities you’re interested in directly by calling them is your best bet. Have a list of questions to ask each university to help you remain prepared, and keep something to write down any information you receive about availability of courses. 
  • You might get offered a place through Clearing. If you get offered a place, you can add it as a ‘Clearing Choice’ in UCAS Track – remember to give this as much thought as you would for your original university applications!
  • You can go into Adjustment. If you get better results than you expected, hurray! You might want to consider ‘trading up’ to a different university with more competitive entry requirements – if you had any in mind before but you couldn’t apply with your predicted grades, here’s your chance to explore them now. 


  • Do your research early. Whether or not you think you might have to go into Clearing based on how you feel your exams went, or you aimed for courses with extremely high entry requirements, it might be worth doing a little bit of research before Results Day to ensure you’re as prepared as possible. Most universities will have listed courses they expect to be available through Clearing in advance – research your options early to be as proactive as you can. 
  • Act quickly. Clearing and Adjustment can definitely be a lot more stressful than ‘main cycle’ applications as they’ll usually be much quicker processes! It’s important to stay on top of everything to ensure you don’t miss out on available places – they don’t stick around that long!
  • Remember to be cautious. Even though the Clearing process might be moving full-speed ahead, it’s still crucial to evaluate your options carefully – remember that university is still a 3+ year investment of your life! 

“I personally went through clearing, so I can understand the anxiousness that a lot of other students may feel when going through it. Looking back on my experience now though, it’s definitely not as daunting as I had imagined it to be, and I was surprised by just how much choice there still was available to me. I was lucky to have great support, people encouraging me when it got a little frustrating or if I found myself disheartened.

While I have no personal experience with adjustment, I can appreciate that it’s also a very stressful time for students who choose to go through with it – figuring out your next steps is never a simple task.”

– Melissa

What will happen if I defer my place?

You won’t be alone. A survey found that more than 1 in 5 students could defer going to university this year. 

However, it’s important to note that different universities will take different approaches to this, so you might need to check that your course will still be offered next year. Other courses such as Medicine won’t always allow deferred entry, so make sure you’ve checked up on how your specific course is affected! 

You might also be asked the reasons for you wanting to defer your place if your application is still being considered, so make sure you’re prepared to answer them. 

“The pandemic cut my university experience short, and as a final year student I found myself heading back home without a lot of final year university experiences I was looking forward to. The internet/social media was super helpful during those times, now too as it’s ongoing.

I think we are lucky to be so connected through social media, now more than ever. We get constant updates, and are receiving new information all the time from so many sources. It’s important to just keep looking out for updates and hope for the best!”

– Melissa

Key Takeaways

You’ve made it! Now what? 

Whatever stage you’re at with your university admissions process, you’ve made it this far. So… what are the key things you should be taking away from this guide?

What should I remember throughout?

  • Keep organised and efficient throughout the whole process. You really don’t want to accidentally miss a deadline, or remember to sign up for student accommodation only after all the good ones are gone!
    • TOP TIP: Keep a track of everything with a calendar, diary, or even a whole folder dedicated to university admissions. You can keep all your university prospectuses, pros-cons lists and personal statement drafts all in one place.
    • Remember to keep a positive attitude. Whilst it’s vital to get everything on your to-do list done in time, your attitude is just as important – if not more.
  • TOP TIP: Develop your resilience by looking at everything as an opportunity, rather than a hindrance. Every rejection or unexpected tumble you take WILL feel heartbreaking at the time – but it DOES make you stronger, only if you keep a positive attitude. Whether you don’t get an offer from your top choice, or have to go through Clearing and Adjustment, things will work out for you – just maybe differently to how you had imagined, and that’s okay.
      • Remember to keep a check on your mental health. University admissions can be pretty overwhelming, so remember not to let your mental health take a backseat.
        • TOP TIP: Utilise your support network – keep checking in with friends, family, teachers, and anyone else you trust about any worries you have about the process. Keep your mental health in check by constantly communicating with others about how you’re feeling – sometimes it might feel like you’re struggling with something particular all by yourself, but you’d be surprised at how many others might be feeling the exact same way. Be each other’s support network! 
      • Use as many resources as you can. Whether it’s people, things, social media, or this guide, use them when you need – the more the merrier. 
      • TOP TIP: Try not to be shy in asking for help – this is something that will help you throughout life, not just university admissions. What’s the point in sitting and struggling in silence when your solution could be one little message or call away?
    • Keep the future in mind. The long-term future, we mean, not just getting to university itself – remind yourself why you’re actually applying.
      • TOP TIP: Keep a note of the goals you want to achieve from going to university – this can be a good way of motivating you throughout the process! Whether it includes making new friends, becoming really good at your subject, joining new societies, or even just learning how to live by yourself, keep the list to remind you of why you’re applying in the first place.

We hope you’re looking forward to university! Remember to check out the rest of the resources on Academic Underdogs, including the Forum, and send any questions you have our way. 

Now, go and get yourself started with your university admissions  – and remember, you’re not alone!