Dates for your di­ary

Get to grips with the ap­pli­ca­tion process and dead­lines, says Paul Bray

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Front Page -

Ap­ply­ing to univer­sity may mirac­u­lously trans­form your teenager into a ma­ture, or­gan­ised and com­mu­nica­tive hu­man be­ing. But just in case it doesn’t, here’s a crib sheet on how to keep their ap­pli­ca­tion on the rails.

Choose a course

This is now be­com­ing ur­gent, as the ap­pli­ca­tion process will soon be in full swing. The Tele­graph’s Univer­sity Course Fin­der (coursefinder. tele­graph.co.uk) and Ucas Search Tool (search.ucas. com) are both in­valu­able for dis­cov­er­ing which in­sti­tu­tions of­fer which cour­ses.

But syl­labuses and teach­ing meth­ods vary, so check that your child has also con­sulted the univer­sity web­sites to en­sure that the cour­ses of­fer what they re­ally want. When? Now

Visit uni­ver­si­ties

This is highly ad­vis­able, and some­thing par­ents can re­ally get in­volved with. Most in­sti­tu­tions run open days for prospec­tive stu­dents, where you can quiz the teach­ing staff and view the cam­pus and ac­com­mo­da­tion fa­cil­i­ties. You may need to book in ad­vance. Self-guided, ad hoc vis­its are some­times pos­si­ble, too. When? As soon as avail­able

Reg­is­ter with Ucas

The ap­pli­ca­tion process is han­dled by Ucas for a fee of £23 (or £12 if ap­ply­ing for only one course). Six­th­form stu­dents usu­ally reg­is­ter with Ucas through their school, but it’s worth dou­ble-check­ing. When? As soon as pos­si­ble

Write a per­sonal state­ment

This vi­tal doc­u­ment ex­plains why the stu­dent wants to study at univer­sity and why they’re a good can­di­date for con­sid­er­a­tion. Be­cause most cour­ses now don’t re­quire an in­ter­view, it’s usu­ally the only way for ap­pli­cants to sell them­selves.

It’s of­ten the hard­est part of the en­tire process, so parental sup­port is

When? By Oc­to­ber half-term

Com­plete the ap­pli­ca­tion

This is done online and is fairly straight­for­ward; schools of­ten check and fi­nalise it. Stu­dents can ap­ply for up to five cour­ses, with no or­der of pref­er­ence.

The dead­line for most cour­ses is Jan­uary 15 (Oc­to­ber 15 for Oxbridge and some med­i­cal sub­jects). But many uni­ver­si­ties start mak­ing of­fers ear­lier, so the sooner your child ap­plies, the bet­ter. If they miss the dead­line, don’t panic: they can still ap­ply un­til June 30. Ap­pli­ca­tions made af­ter that go straight into Clear­ing. When? Ide­ally be­fore Christ­mas

Ac­cept of­fers

Most uni­ver­si­ties should re­ply to ap­pli­ca­tions by the end of March. Of­fers are con­di­tional on the stu­dent’s exam re­sults, and the re­quired grades may not ex­actly match the course prospec­tus, so it pays to check care­fully.

Once all their uni­ver­si­ties have re­sponded, stu­dents must con­firm their first (“firm”) choice. Most also ac­cept a sec­ond (“insurance”) choice, usu­ally re­quir­ing lower grades.

There’s a hard dead­line for re­ply­ing, af­ter which any of­fers not ac­cepted are au­to­mat­i­cally de­clined, so don’t miss it. When? By May 7 (if all re­sponses have been re­ceived by March 31)

Ap­ply for fi­nance

As soon as stu­dents have a firm choice they can start ap­ply­ing for fi­nance (loan and grant). You will need to fur­nish ev­i­dence of your in­come, too.

There’s a dead­line, usu­ally around the end of May; if you ap­ply af­ter this date the cash may not be avail­able by the start of your child’s first term. Also check whether you need to ap­ply now for univer­sity schol­ar­ships or bur­saries. When? As soon as a firm of­fer has been ac­cepted

Find ac­com­mo­da­tion

Most uni­ver­si­ties make an ef­fort to ac­com­mo­date all first-year un­der­grad­u­ates in halls of res­i­dence. Sin­gle rooms with self-cater­ing fa­cil­i­ties are the norm and en suites are com­mon, but not all halls are on cam­pus. It’s usu­ally first come, first served. When? As soon as pos­si­ble af­ter ac­cept­ing an of­fer

Ac­cept a place

When the exam re­sults are is­sued they are sent di­rect to Ucas, which au­to­mat­i­cally no­ti­fies the uni­ver­si­ties. Even if your child doesn’t get the re­quired grades, one of their choices may still agree to ac­cept them.

If not, they au­to­mat­i­cally go into Clear­ing, where un­placed ap­pli­cants can ap­ply to any course that still has va­can­cies. It’s a fre­netic and stress­ful process, so parental ad­vice and sup­port are very wel­come. The plum places are filled fast, so don’t be on hol­i­day when the exam re­sults come out. When? From Au­gust 14 (A-level re­sults day)

See for your­self: par­ents can ac­com­pany stu­dents to univer­sity open days to give a sec­ond opin­ion

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