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Applying for University

The process of applying for university can seem quite daunting, there are lots of steps you need to take to ensure your application is as best as it can be. Read our simple guide before you get started. 

  • First of all, head to UCAS to register your details online, you will be asked to create a password. Then log in to complete the different sections, this includes your email and asks for details about any support you might need whilst at university.
  • Remember you can only apply once in a cycle, if you have applied previously and you want to apply again, you'll have to submit a new application.

The top things that the admissions team will be looking for are:

  • Qualifications 
  • The content of your personal statement- meaning that you demonstrate passion for the subject, as well as motivation and enthusiasm and the skills and experiences that will help you succeed at university.
  • Knowledge of the subject you wish to study 
  • A good attitude to learning and personal development 
  • Demonstrate the ability that you can write fluently 

Choosing what to study

choosing a course: tips and advice

Choosing a subject

  • One way to decide what course to study is to think about what you enjoy and what your goals are. This could be academically or outside of school for example, a club or sport. 
  • Then take this idea and search for career options in our Careers Directory, you can search by job categories or keywords. They will give you details about the main tasks, what qualifications you would need and the prospects in Essex and the UK. 
  • If your still feel unsure about what course to take then think about doing some work experience, this can act as a way to test out a career path that you might of been thinking of. Head to our Work Experience Hub for more information. 

Types of undergraduate courses

  • Bachelor degree courses usually last between 3-4 years, most courses have core modules which everyone studies and the other modules are chosen by you. Giving you some flexibility on what you study, making your degree personal to you. Some also offer a sandwich year, involving a placement or a year in a industry related to your course. 

  • Foundation Years some degrees offer a foundation year, sometimes called a 'year zero'. They are a year long, full time, delivered at university or college, and can be offered as a 'standalone' course, or as part of a degree. They are designed to build the skills and knowledge of the subject that is required to undertake a degree level course. These are aimed at people who did not meet the requirements, meaning that a foundation year would be perfect. 

  • Foundation degrees are usually two years long and are equivalent to the first two years of an undergraduate degree. They are not the same as a foundation degree. They are designer for school leavers at 18 who need a course with lower entry requirements and fewer exams and who would also prefer more vocational based study. 

  • Degree Apprenticeships offer students the opportunity to achieve a full bachelor's (Level 6) or master's (Level 7) degree by combining full-time work with part-time study through a training provider or a university. To find out more view our Degree Apprenticeships page.


Choosing where to study

Choosing where to study may seem intimidating, especially if you are looking to live away from home on campus accommodation. Here are a few tips on how to decide where to study and what you should look out for:                                     

  • First of all think about what it is you want from university life, are you focusing solely on the course and commuting in? Then other factors such as night life and accommodation wouldn't be important. 

  • If you are planning on living on campus then you might want to look into what the university offers as each university will be different and at a different price, depending on the location. This can be very important, as living away from home for the first time can be challenging so having somewhere you want to go back to and that is comfortable is key. 

  • Other elements might also help with making the decision- universities offer a wide range of societies, social events and activities which might highlight your interest in one or two. This is also a big part of university life, you should take up opportunities and get involved, so finding a university that suits your interests could be the way to go.

  • Your course could also be a major factor in deciding where to study- some universities could specialise in your subject, meaning that the quality of the teaching may be at a higher standard. They might also have better facilities for your particular course, this could also be another deciding factor. 

  • Entry requirements- different courses and universities have different entry requirements, make sure you check this against your predicted grades. 

  • Open days- Once you have thought about the above points and narrowed down the universities that you are keen on then it is a good idea to go to one of their open days. Here you can walk around the campus, meet your course teachers, take a tour of the accommodation and speak to existing students. 


Results, confirmation and clearing

Have everything ready, results day can be stressful so be prepared:

  • Make sure you are available- you may have to make some calls or go online so it would be best if you keep yourself free that day. 

  • If you can have someone like a parent or carer with you to talk through your options. 

So what happens?

  • You could get the grades you need and be accepted into your first choice university

  • You could exceed what you were expecting and either still accept your first choice university or you may want to explore options with higher entry requirements, if so you can see what's available on UCAS Adjustment service. 

  • If you don't meet the entry requirements, don't panic! Look for course vacancies on UCAS's Clearing service OR you could look into other options such as an apprenticeship, gap year or employment.  


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