Question about UCAS applications

(63 Posts)
Fairyfellowsmasterstroke Sat 28-Jun-14 15:02:27

DD2 is looking at going to univ in Sept 2015.

She is planning on completing her personal statement and creating her univ "shortlist" over the summer with the intent on applying, via UCAS, as soon as it opens in September. Her shortlist will be done by reading prospectus' and online research. At this point she will have only attended 1 open day.

Several of the univs that she has expressed an interest in are holding their open days in October so I suggested that she hang onto her application until she'd been for a few visits.

BUT I then began to ponder on the following:-

If a univ has, for example, 150 places on a course and UCAS doesn't close until mid January 2015 surely, as time goes on, the course may have filled up so people who submit applications in the later months (Nov/Dec or January) may be turned down as the univ may have already made it's offers (ie 150 places, 150 un/conditional offers made by the end of October!).

Does this make sense to people (I don't think I'm explaining it very well!!!).

WWYD - Submit in September hoping that there are more vacant places on the course so there's a higher chance of an offer OR wait until later in the year when you've "done" the open days and are more certain of your shortlist??

All advice welcome.

OP’s posts: |
DPotter Sat 28-Jun-14 15:10:46

The universities don't decide on a first come first in basis - so there's no advantage to getting your application in on the first day. Universities wouldn't bother to hold open days in October if all the places had been filled by then. I think it's really important to visit the university before applying to get a feel for the place and the city / town where they are based.

Toadsrevisited Sat 28-Jun-14 15:15:48

A mixed answer- yes, it is good to apply earlier rather than later and some unis will allocate places throughout the year, and applying in the spring may mean a lower chance of being accepted than before Christmas, for example. However, most unis wait a while before allocating places. It is vital to choose the best five unis/ courses so you don't waste a choice on somewhere that you later visit and decide isn't for you. Oxbridge applications close in October and places are offered around New Year; some unis with similar grades wait until around then to make offers.

So the short answer is: wait until after October. Go on lots of open days. Choose carefully. Get lots of help from school with the application and statement. I advise pupils to apply around November and definitely by Christmas. Hope that helps.

chocoshopoholic Sat 28-Jun-14 15:18:02

All on time applications should be treated equally. university.which.co.uk/advice/will-submitting-your-ucas-application-early-give-you-a-better-chance-of-getting-a-place

I agree that visiting is important. For example York and Manchester are often benchmarked and have a similar range of courses. However, The feel of the 2 sites are poles apart.

RawCoconutMacaroon Sat 28-Jun-14 15:20:01

Some unis/courses give out the places as the applications are received. Some hold all the applications until a closing date.

I have 2 DC at uni now and one applying this autumn for 2015 entry... Yes the process can be a bit hazy at times but suggest you (the parent) look over the online info from each uni on your DC shortlist. There is usually a lot of info that important but may not look important to a teenager iykwim!

Also, nothing to stop your DC from hopping on a train for a day out to these uni cities and having a look round... She might learn a lot that way.

FYI, at my DC school, only the Oxbridge, medics and vet med applications are processed by mid October (the deadline for these), and the bulk of applications are processed in November/December.

TheStudentRoom website is a great place to look for info (for both your DC and you).

Fairyfellowsmasterstroke Sat 28-Jun-14 15:29:03

Thank you for your replies.

Coconut - as a parent I have spent hours looking at options, creating spreadsheets of pros and cons etc etc. TBH DD just looks at me and laughs but I feel more able to "guide" her having looked into everything from the cost of train fares home to the range of subjects the course offers!!!

I will definitely try to persuade her to attend a few more open days before submitting her application - we did the full round of them 3 years ago with DD1 so we're more than ready to support DD2 with visits.

Actually the idea of encouraging her to visit the cities on a non-open day is an excellent idea - it will give her a good "feel" for things as well as encouraging her independence.

Thanks again to everyone.

OP’s posts: |
Horsemad Sun 29-Jun-14 09:15:44

DS is going to get his applicatipn ready and then send it straight after Warwick's open day in Oct. If it's ready to go, it's not a problem to apply as soon as he's visited.

It would be tricky to apply without having seen the locations/courses/accommodation I think. I loved B'ham when we visited on Fri, yet DS is dead against it but can't say why exactly. Says it doesn't 'feel' right, and it's his choice of course.

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goinggetstough Sun 29-Jun-14 09:25:34

As a previous poster has said all applications will be considered equally up until the cutoff date in January but I think there are other advantages to completing the application earlier. A2 courses are full on so having completed your application form in the summer holidays mean that you don't have an extra work to do when the new term starts. Also if you are applying for a course that interviews you would possibly be in the first wave of interviews and post offer days rather than those after Christmas when work etc can become more stressful as mocks and the real exams get closer.

The above is of course only relevant if your DC knows what course they want to do and no one should be forced into applying earlier just so their form was in!

NickyEds Sun 29-Jun-14 09:32:02

As pp have said it's better to be well informed than early. Spreadsheets and on line info is good but it really can't compare to a visit.

headlesslambrini Sun 29-Jun-14 09:32:48

If she is looking at living away then she needs to attend the open day and book her place on it. Unis will look to see who has attended these open days as they are less likely to drop out of the course due to being homesick etc. She also needs to get the email address of the speakers and email them afterwards with some questions. This way her name will be known when her application comes through the system and it will show her as being keen and committed to the course and uni.

ijustwanttobeme Sun 29-Jun-14 09:38:45

DD and I went to quite a few open days, before she decided on her top 5.

One of the places she looked at was the best in UK for the course she wanted to do, but ( like horsemad's DS), it just didn't feel right.

Another place had excellent facilities and the course was great, but she felt she would not fit in, as there did not seem to be many students of any non white ethnic origins. This was one of the first things she commented on upon arriving there.

We considered how long and the cost of weekend home visits as well.

Once she'd looked at them all she made her choice and has now finished her first year (at B'ham funnily enough)

btw, she was amazed at some of her friends who applied to places, based solely on info available on line. It was only when they got offers did they the look round on the applicants days.

BeckAndCall Sun 29-Jun-14 09:41:14

Is your DD getting no guidance from school/college on this?

UCAS itself has a helpful guide to parents which you could read to answer some of your questions.

The people who usually apply early are those for whom the October deadline applies - Oxbridge and medical and vet students. Most other students don't apply until later, and your DD can't loose anything by waiting until January - it's not a race for places.

She will probably also find that her college is not ready to do its part until later into the term - some schools have defined times for putting together the college/ school reference and it can't go until that is attached. They will, for instance, do the references for Oxbridge candidates first then others after that. So when she applies is not just down to her - which may make her take advantage of the October open days and solve your issue.

Needmoresleep Sun 29-Jun-14 09:55:47

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think you can submit a UCAS form with, say, three choices that you know you are interested in, and then add a further two later. As long as you select all five before the January deadline you will get equal consideration from all five. This then allows you to get the paperwork done and dusted but a bit more time to make a final decision.

It means you cant tailor the PS to your later choices, but might mean that you can, say if you got three rapid acceptances or rejections, decide how ambitious the remaining selections should be.

One downside of submitting early is that very competitive courses, with the need to treat all EU applicants offering a range of qualifications equally, can take ages to make offers. My guess is that they have a "yes" pile and a "no" pile and then a huge "maybe" pile. After January some Universities require some students with non-standard qualifications (eg mature students or EU students whose school matriculation does not provide enough differentiation) to sit a test. It is then March before remaining decision are made. If you applied in September it is a long wait, especially when everyone else seems to have got their offers.

Fairyfellowsmasterstroke Sun 29-Jun-14 10:52:08

DD has already decided on the course that she wants to follow - the "problem" that we're finding is that so many univs offer different variations on the course.

She's interested in a "Business Management" course with an overall career goal of working in Retail Management. Some univs offer a "Business Management" course whilst others offer a "Business and Management" course. There are further options such as "Business Management and Leadership" courses.

We're pouring over the prospectus' and will do as many open days as finances will allow.

Headless - excellent idea about sending a follow up question after the open day. Will recommend that to DD.

Sadly we may not be able to attend 5 open days as finances are tight so we'll prioritise where necessary.

OP’s posts: |
Fairyfellowsmasterstroke Sun 29-Jun-14 11:34:44

Actually another question has popped into my head.

Part of DD personal statements reads "This course is ideally balanced as it offers me .............."

BUT she will probably be applying for slightly different courses with different UCAS codes (all under the basic umbrella of Business/Management).

Will the different univs see what other places/courses she has applied to or do they only see the course that she has applied to at their univ?

OP’s posts: |
BeckAndCall Sun 29-Jun-14 12:04:54

Other unis won't see the courses she's applied for.

It would really help you if you read the ucas website on all of these points - it'll help you to understand the process and answer lots of your questions. I recommend it.

Fairyfellowsmasterstroke Sun 29-Jun-14 12:15:59

Thanks - I've read UCAS and TSR.

They've answered 99% of my questions but I just needed a couple of points clarifying.

TBH I'm stepping back from UCAS applications for a while as I want DD to make up her own mind on matters and not be too influenced by me.

Thanks again for everyones help.

OP’s posts: |
Needmoresleep Sun 29-Jun-14 13:50:33

Business courses can vary a lot in content and reputation.

Do look closely at any employment stats and perhaps think about whether a degree that offers a year out with an employer is an attractive option. (Bath?)

Some business courses are very popular so it is worth looking at application and admission rates, and average A level tariff of successful applicants. Obviously it is a good sign if a course is popular, but only if you get a place.

DS only went to a couple of Open Days. We found simply walking round campuses really useful.

agnesgrey Sun 29-Jun-14 16:16:51

The universities won't see which other universities / courses she has applied for , but she can only (I believe) write one personal statement . So probably best to really study each course content and bear that in mind when she writes the PS. Ie don't gear it to the particular balance of one course as it may not sit happily as an application to another university's slightly different course.

Hope that makes sense

ajandjjmum Sun 29-Jun-14 16:22:57

Go and have a look around those she is interested in over the Summer holidays - I know she won't be able to ask indepth questions, and gain a real insight, but you'll probably be able to get a 'feel' for the place.

webwiz Sun 29-Jun-14 19:04:30

At my DCs sixth form they have a UCAS "process" which means that you don't have complete control over when you submit. References are being written now and there are sessions on personal statements for the students.

All the applications with the Oct 15 deadline are completed by the end of Sept and then everyone else is supposed to have submitted by the end of Nov. DD2's application was held up for ages waiting for her chemistry teacher to supply a predicted grade. This took three weeks even though DD2 had been told verbally what it was going to be hmm

DD2's first choice course made some early offers and then operated a "gathered field" policy for the remaining applicants which means they waited until after the january deadline before they made the majority of offers.

I think its good to be organised but there is no need to have everything ready by the beginning of september.

MillyMollyMama Mon 30-Jun-14 21:55:54

Our school operated an end of September/first week of October deadline for early closing applications and early November for the others. My DDs both had offers ( from Leeds) very quickly - 2 weeks - so applications are definitely not all held until the deadline at the end of January. Perhaps if they want you, they offer quickly?

I am very concerned that universities give you preference if you have attended an open day. Brighton were definitely "off" with my DD2 at interview when, following her question about collaborating with other faculties/students on a photography degree, she was told she would have known the answer had she come to an open day. Not everyone has the money for this and Brighton knew this because they put their open day talks on U Tube. It is totally unfair to judge people on whether they can visit, or not. Schools only allow so much time off and some travel is very expensive. After a Feb interview, she still had not heard from them by May!!! Plain rude really! She accepted her first choice without ever getting an offer from them!

MillyMollyMama Mon 30-Jun-14 21:56:26

Or a rejection from them. Just nothing.

Fairyfellowsmasterstroke Mon 30-Jun-14 22:17:00

MillyMolly - I agree 100% about the expense of Open Days.

DD1 is just completing her 3 year degree - we spent over £1000 on Open days followed by Interview/selection days (her course required interviews before offers were made and some of her choices were 2+ hours away. Invariably the unis furthest away gave her 9am appointments which necessitated over night stays).

We've just booked to go to Sheffield next month for DD2 - £60 on 2 train tickets already spent (and that univ is the closest to home) 0ther unis that DD2 is interested in are £90+ per person. I was hoping that not attending an open day wouldn't jeopardise an offer but now I'm worried!!

OP’s posts: |
MillyMollyMama Mon 30-Jun-14 22:37:02

I was appalled by Brighton. Obviously Art/Photography courses interview and afterwards DD said she didn't like the lecturer and did not want to be taught by him! She felt the response she got to her question was unfair. It was. It was also a question she had trialled at a previous interview where it got a very positive response (and an offer)! She told them she had visited Brighton on two occasions, a school trip and with a friend. Also, at the interview she was also told they didn't really like A level candidates preferring ones with foundation art. Their U Tube presentation said nothing of the kind and they said they welcomed A level applicants in their prospectus/presentation and gave likely offer grades.

I am saying all of this because you cannot, I am afraid, believe all you read! Having done fairly meticulous research regarding suitable courses/universities this was a complete waste of a UCAS choice. The interview was also 2 hours late in starting. DD1, however, got offers from Manchester and Leeds without visiting and I am sure most universities make offers on merit, not on what visits parents can afford or schools are prepared to allow. Just avoid Brighton photography department!

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