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Does your UCAS application have the X factor?

Submitting your application for university can be great motivation to get you through revision or AS exams in the coming months.

But with surging demand for courses – last year the proportion of British 18-year-olds applying to university hit a record high – you need to devote a large chunk of time and effort to your university application in order to give yourself the best chance of getting into your top-choice course.

Hopefully by now you will have researched and picked a few courses that you’re passionate about and you will be ready to apply (for degrees and HNDs) through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

Applicants to Oxbridge, medicine and vet courses have to apply by next week – 15 October – for most others, the deadline is 15 January. [For a full timeline of important dates in the process, see the original article here].

Your UCAS application will include your personal details, academic record, a reference – usually from a teacher – and your personal statement. The latter will take the most time.

It should describe your achievements and motivations, evidence of your skills or situations where you have overcome problems to achieve goals, and why you’d be an asset to a university.

Ensure it really is personal, and check it for spelling or grammar errors. Think of it as packaging yourself like a product. You want to make tutors think: “I want that person in my classes.”

You can submit your application online, through the UCAS website and can choose up to five different courses. Once you’ve submitted your application you can track its progress through the Track pages of the UCAS website.

Now it’s a waiting game: you’ll hear back from institutions as and when they make a decision about your application. Some might invite you for an interview, or audition, depending on the course you’ve applied for: if they do, prepare as if you were applying for a job, with lots of thought into what you might be asked.

If you don’t receive the offers you hoped for, don’t worry – there are lots of other options. You can apply to UCAS Extra – for those who have not received any offers or have declined all of them – or enter Clearing after receiving A-level results in August.

Clearing is like a matchmaking service between universites that have spare course places, and students who missed out on their first choice, or have changed their mind about what they want to study.

Many universities offer courses that begin in January as well as Autumn, so you might not have to wait another 12 months if you want to reapply. Or you could even consider embarking on an apprenticeship, foundation course, or work-based learning before submitting another application.

The full article on the Guardian’s website includes a timeline of important dates in the UCAS application procedure:

Posted by Lucy Tobin on Tue, 31 Jan 2017

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Lucy is a writer and journalist who has a regular column in the Evening Standard, where she also edits the personal finance section. She additionally writes for the Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times, Sunday Times and the Daily Mail. Lucy has published five books, including a 'Guide to Uni Life'.

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