The university application process through UCAS is not the easiest thing in the world. I mean, it’s understandable considering it is a HUGE decision you have to make, but it would still be nice if it didn’t take so long, since I just get really excited and want to know if I have a place or not. Maybe you have already applied to university and been through to UCAS process, or maybe you have this all to look forward to. This is my own experience of the application process to university so far, because i’m only about halfway through the entire process. By the way, I am using this photo of me looking out over Newcastle city centre because I thought it was symbolic of me looking to the future. Really, it was the only photo I could find that was vaguely related…
So, the first thing our college made us do before even getting started with UCAS was use a system called UniFrog. Unifrog is a research tool where you can look at chat courses you might like to do. You can also make hundreds and thousands of personal statement drafts on there so that your tutor at college can read them and help you make tweaks. The best thing about UniFrog is that there is a leader board when you log in and it shows how far people in your year group are with their applications. You were literally the talk of the college throughout September if your name was in the top 3 and people would argue about who had the best application. In the end we realised that more than one person can be 1st, and that ruined the fun when everyone finished their applications and became 1st on the leader board.
When it comes to personal statements, don’t be scared. Sixth form and college lecturers can make this small 4000 character paragraph into the most important thing you will ever have to write in your life. Now, don’t get me wrong, you should try and make it as good as you can, but don’t loose sleep over it. Also just treat it as a small essay, therefore you get the motivation to do it quickly and don’t wait ages thinking it’s this huge task. From start to finish it took me two weeks to write my statement. In this time I made 12 drafts and got it checked by my lecturer twice. It didn’t take that long to write it and I felt great when I had. This mean’t that I was able to send my UCAS application off at the start of October, nice and early. Just think the sooner you send it off, you don’t have to worry about it anymore, and you will start hearing back from universities with offers.
Registering to UCAS
Registering for UCAS let’s you learn a lot about yourself! Literally, they ask you so many questions! There are two whole sections off the application that are just about yourself, and where you have lived, religion, sexuality and various other questions. At the end of this questionnaire, they give you your magical UCAS personal ID. This number you should write down in about 50 places and try to memorise it if you can. This number you will need anytime you ring UCAS (and I rang them a lot to clarify things about my application). You also need it to log into ‘Track’, the system you use after you apply. Also, the password you use to log in to the application form is the one you will use on all UCAS systems, so make sure you keep that handy too. I made a fingerprint protected note on my iPhone with all the details in so I had them when I needed them, but no one else could see them, unless they chopped my fingers off.
Picking some great choices
So, here is the hard part! You need to pick a maximum of 5 universities that you actually want to go to, and what course you want to do. I was pretty set from the start that I wanted to do a Computer Science degree, but I wasn’t sure quite what discipline I wanted to study. This is where university open days are your best friend! Go to as many as you can all over the country. Go have a look round, read prospectus, look online. You get a shed load of freebies at open day’s too. Northumbria University gave me a cool bottle opener which is now taking pride of place in my kitchen. I ended up applying for Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland, Leeds Beckett and Aberdeen Universities to do Computer Forensics. This is essentially computer crime and involves looking at criminal acts and working out how and why a person commited the crime, and then working the legal system to get them punished for the crime. it sounds like a really interesting degree with good career prospects. I decided fairly quickly, but DON’T PANIC IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO DO… YET! This is why you go to open days and work it out. You have until the middle of January to submit a UCAS application, so take your time to decide, but not too much time as you need to allow time to write an amazing statement.
Sending it off…
This part is really exciting but you also want to cry! It’s exciting because your personal statement will now be amazing and you have worked so hard on your application. The sad part is that if you apply for 2 or more universities, like myself, it costs £24 to apply, and this is the day you have to pay. £24 is a lot of money to me and seeing that leave my bank account was the hardest thing ever, but I felt great knowing I never have to look at that personal statement ever again!
The last hurdle
Turns out when you click the ‘Pay & Send’ button on the application, it actually doesn’t go straight off to the university. you now have to wait a while while your college tutor attaches your teacher references and they check that your personal statement is amazing! This took about a week for me but could be longer for others, depending on your tutor. Sadly, I got called to his office to change my statement a little bit, which was sad because i thought I would never see it again. Anyway, I sorted it and he click the magical button that sends it to the universities. When he did it I got an influx of email’s from UCAS telling me how great I was, but the best email you will get is the one from ‘Track’.
This is the system you use to see the replies to your choices from universities, make changes to your application, reply to offers and eventually, make your final choice of university. When your tutor sends the final application, you can then log in to this system and you see all your choices. All of them say pending and now you will literally spend each minute of the day refreshing this page, rather than studying. Now we just play the waiting game, as universities can take up to early May to reply, however hopefully they will reply a bit sooner if you get your application in early.
So, it’s currently the 5th November (Bonfire Night) when I am writing this. Already, I have heard back from one of my choices, which is brilliant. On the 1st November I got an email in the middle of my drama lesson saying, ‘Please log-in to Track’ and I honestly got so excited. I opened Track and there it was, the University of Sunderland have offered me an unconditional place to study BSc Computer Forensics with them. I WAS OVER THE MOON. I posted on Twitter about it and the university re tweeted me. It was a great day. However, Sunderland is my Insurance choice, as I would prefer to go to Newcastle or Northumbria, so we will see what happens with them two before I accept/decline any offers. I just need to wait for the other four universities to reply now. Why not follow me on Twitter and keep up to date with how my offers go, as well as the rest of my life.
So, that’s my UCAS journey so far. When I get all of my offers and pick my final choices I will write my next post about my application. Sign up for email alerts on the right hand side of this post, and get email’s everytime I write something new. If you are currently applying for uni, or have this all to come then let us know in the comment’s what you think of the process and tell me what offer’s you have received!