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UCAS rejections. What now?

(43 Posts)
FramboiseCoulis Tue 11-Feb-14 18:31:16

A family member already has her A-levels, 3 A* and one A (Maths, Physics, English and Further Maths).
She's not getting any offers for uni. We can't understand it, she's such a well-rounded candidate with excellent references.

Any advice on where we go from here?
Any sucess stories out there with Clearning?

We're all gutted for her :-(


TheIncidentalGoat Tue 11-Feb-14 18:36:50

Get her to look on UCAS for info about Extra. If she gets no offers she can make more choices ( I don't know if it's just the one or more than that)

Smartiepants79 Tue 11-Feb-14 18:38:43

Well it very much depends on where she has applied and what for. If she has only applied to the very best universities and its a very popular subject then they will be massively oversubscribed and in a position to only select the very best.
I find it odd that she already knows her grades but has still not been accepted anywhere. It sounds like her applications were not very well judged/thought through. She should have had a good idea where was likely to be interested in her.
Again clearing in very dependent on what she wants to study. Oversubscribed subjects will have no clearing places I would have thought.
Is she prepared to change her course/where she wishes to go?

Slipshodsibyl Tue 11-Feb-14 19:13:16

As suggested above, she applies through ucas 'extra' . She is able to apply for one university at a time and if she has a rejection, then another. It starts in a month or so but you would need to look on the ucas site to find the details.

FramboiseCoulis Tue 11-Feb-14 19:24:10

Thanks for this.
In fact, she had offers last year, but decided at the last mnute that physics & philolspy wasn't for her, so she pulled out and took a year out. Now she has completely changed her mind and has applied for pure Eng Lit which we realise must be massively popular. She has applied to top unis, but then again, she had a fabulous application, she's won lots of prizes and she's just a lovely kid etc.... life's tough.

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 11-Feb-14 22:04:06

It could be to do with the subject mix she has. For English Lit they may well be looking for more 'writing' subjects than sciences? my friends who went to do English tended to have English, history, geography, languages, classics etc. I am surprised she has been completely turned down by everywhere though with good grades already. Has she checked her form is actually showing her grades properly and there hasn't been some sort of mistake.

Shootingatpigeons Tue 11-Feb-14 23:59:29

I am afraid that at the most competitive unis for English Literature she will be competing with other students with similar achieved or predicted grades but in mainly humanities subjects. Was she persuasive enough in her ps about why she wanted to switch to English Lit? Did she demonstrate as one of the admissions tutors put it at the open day for the absolutely packed out session for English Literature at one of the top rated unis for the subject that she was "quirky but not weird" with her own areas of interest outside of the curriculum. Studying English Literature these days is a lot about contextual analysis so not having that additional strength in History or Philosophy or even Art History should probably have been something she addressed in her PS. Her unconventional combination of subjects should have made her interesting but not if she didn't address the obvious concerns about such a recent change of direction.

However worth trying through extra as suggested, especially looking at the sorts of modules etc offered at the various universities and whether they are a match to the interests she wrote about in her PS. My DD for instance focused a lot on overseas and post colonial literature, which genuinely do interest her, and the unis she applied for are strong on that, and it was the specialist area of the admissions officer quoted above.....

I am afraid that as admissions tutors come on here regularly to point out, it is all about demonstrating you are going to succeed on the particular course so being a lovely girl and winning prizes is only going to influence tutors in as much as it demonstrates that. So it is mainly about academic results and providing evidence of your motivation, interests and relevant skills.

Shootingatpigeons Wed 12-Feb-14 00:39:12

Also, has she actually heard from them all yet? Some of the top unis are notorious for keeping students waiting, Durham, Exeter and Warwick for three in the top ten for English. Exeter offers only just came out.

creamteas Wed 12-Feb-14 08:31:45

As others have said, the lack of offers is likely to be that she explanation for applying to do English lacks depth. Either that or her reference is not as good as you think it is.

If she is going to use Extra I would suggest that she contacts the university she is applying for first and asks if they would consider an Extra application from her. This will save time and effort and could also give her a chance to convince them before the application goes in.

creamteas Wed 12-Feb-14 08:34:45

Just a thought, but her English A level is Literature isn't it?

If she did English Language with no other humanities, she will struggle to get into an English Lit degree.

Shootingatpigeons Wed 12-Feb-14 12:35:23

Also, what was her motivation for switching to English Literature, was it because she wants to study literature or is it because she sees herself in a career that she thinks an English Lit degree would better prepare her for eg journalism, policy.

If the latter those grades would make her an excellent applicant for a Science course that prepared her for a career in Science journalism or policy, in fact she would be an outstanding candidate. Science courses these days are not necessarily all about molecules and particles. There is a recognition that the Science world also needs to train it's communicators, policy makers, entrepreneurs etc. and she will find modules on Science communication, science in the media, ethics and all the areas that Scientists need to be trained in to engage with the rest of society. Eg

sanam2010 Wed 12-Feb-14 13:39:46

Maybe this is destiny's way of steering her away from a degree that has very challenging job prospects? With those A-levels does she really have no interest in studying computer science or maths? It could make her life so much easier!

Shootingatpigeons Wed 12-Feb-14 13:51:56

sanam2010 An English Literature degree from one of the top ten universities gives you graduate employment prospects of between 67% and 82% employed in graduate level jobs. It is Oxford letting the side down with 67% grin. Scarcely very challenging prospects. In contrast it is "only" 75% for those who studied Computer Science at Oxford and 77% for those who studied Maths at Bristol.

Of course those prospects are considerably worse if you get a 2.2 or third because you were studying a subject that you were not equipped with the necessary skills and / or motivation to do well in. Plus of course those English graduates are more likely to come out with the thinking and critical skills which whilst they may not be so vital to the UKs economic prospects are so important in a western liberal democracy.........

sanam2010 Wed 12-Feb-14 14:58:17

Shootingatpigeons, what if you compare salaries 10 years after graduation? I didn't want to imply that it's pointless to study literature but I find it curious that a girl with these A-levels suddenly wants to study English Literature. Did she get discouraged from maths or sciences because she's a girl? I am just worried she went for literature because she was afraid to study a "male subject", not because of lack of interest or talent (which she has obviously). To me it seems obvious why unis ask the same question and wonder if she might change her mind again after a term or two of studying literature. It may be worth seeking a career counsellor to identify the best way forward, as it can be quite difficult for someone with a variety of talents.

alicelooksinthelookingglass Wed 12-Feb-14 15:01:35

The answer is simple- it's unlikely she has the 'right' A levels for an English Lit degree and more to the point, a lack of interest in the subject, as may be evident on her personal statement.

Unis would be wanting to see evidence of an on going interest in drama, reading, all the performing arts, etc etc.

If she was primarily wanting to do a science degree I expect this will be lacking on her personal statement.

Shootingatpigeons Wed 12-Feb-14 15:13:39

sanam salaries 10 years after graduation reflect what the individuals have achieved, not degree subject. Indeed this is when the technical ceiling for those with technical knowledge and skills who have gone into vocational Science careers can start to take effect as managerial and strategic thinking ability starts to dictate who is best paid and reaches the senior levels in their career.

I doubt it is the gender effect when the OPs relation has got this far with Physics and Maths. At this stage girls applying to university for Science are treated like prize racehorses. However if she has failed to produce a convincing PS then I agree that she may need some careers guidance to understand what she really wants to do.

unitarian Wed 12-Feb-14 18:13:12

A young woman I know has now had 5 offers from good unis for Eng Lit and hasn't got the conventional mix of A levels. She wrote a brilliant PS though.

FramboiseCoulis Wed 12-Feb-14 19:32:12

All very interesting!
She was told by UCL that her background was hugely interesting, especially her analytical skills... but she got a straight rejection.
She's had an interview with Warwick.. but she wasn't massively impressed with the place. Two others still to come,s o we know she's not completely out of the game, but with her top two gone, it's tough. English is her passion, thorugh and through and I'm sure that came across in her application. Her application was written with the help of her school. Even the school says she can't do anymore.
Also, she's a strong candidate in both Sciences and Arts and had As in everything at GCSE. Her tutors were all vying for her to take tehir subject to Alevel. I think she did one year of latin at Alevel. she opted out of a phsyics degree when she realised that the career path is mainly research, something which she didn't want to do. She also loved history, and she probably should have done that to Alevel... all easy to say now.

Didyouhearmeontheradio Wed 12-Feb-14 19:39:11

She's been ill advised about physics then. I did physics first degree. I went on to be a research scientist, and then into law. Other friends became medical physicists, radiographers, IT consultants, solicitors, programmers, teachers (primary and secondary), technical consultants, business people, civil servants, church ministers, sales people, writers (technical and novels), photographer, doctor, anything that they want a degree for and much that they don't.

creamteas Wed 12-Feb-14 19:50:56

she opted out of a phsyics degree when she realised that the career path is mainly research

She really, really has been badly advised. There are only a tiny number of careers where you need an English Lit degree. The majority of English grads go into careers that accept any degree. All of these are open to students with physics......

SlowlorisIncognito Wed 12-Feb-14 20:06:02

There's some really good advice about applying to English lit here taken from admissions tutors-

It is a competitive course and universities are often looking for applicants to demonstrate certain things in their personal statements. Did she, for example, show she's read books outside of modern literature?

As Creamteas said, she does have English Literature A-level doesn't she, not a different English? If she doesn't specifically have lit, then she may have real problems getting a place.

SlowlorisIncognito Wed 12-Feb-14 20:08:04

Also, just because the school say it is a good application does not mean it is good. Many schools give students poor advice about the personal statement in particular. As she has been badly advised about physics, I do wonder if she has been badly advised in other ways.

Obivously it is not a perfect application, as she would have got a place!

Shootingatpigeons Wed 12-Feb-14 20:50:39

Complete rubbish on careers. I know of at least one hedge fund manager who recruits exclusively from the Imperial Physics course (not that that is the only alternative to research obviously). Especially not true of Physics and Philosophy. DD is wanting to do research but she is being pampered and groomed because not that many doing Science degrees do.

Shootingatpigeons Wed 12-Feb-14 20:52:31

Also if you are floored by not getting your top two through UCAS then you have not been well prepared.......

Matsikula Wed 12-Feb-14 21:06:54

This might be less popular with you, but has she thought about US universities? They would generally allow a more flexible mix of undergraduate courses, and I am sure would be more open minded on subject. She's probably late in the admissions cycle but a call to somewhere like one of good (and well-endowed so that funding could be a possibility) state universities like Michigan or Berkeley, or even one of the Ivy Leagues would at least help her scope her options.

Another option would be Ireland. Unless things have changed, they do all processing after their summer exam results come out, and they ONLY look at the points tarriff. I suspect she would be a dead cert for English Lit at Trinity College Dublin, and again, might be able to combine subjects more flexibly than in a UK university because the Irish do a baccalaureate style qualification. Don't know what the fees are like, but definitely worth a look.

Aso of course there is another shot at clearing, but at this stage, the best approach is probably to sort out as many possbilities as possible and then hone in on a preferred strategy afterwards.

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