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Applying to university in uncertain times? Read our top tips!

So you’re applying to university in the middle of a pandemic. Yes that’s a sentence we never thought we’d write, just as I’m sure it’s a sentence you never thought you’d read.

But the last 12 months has been nothing if not an unexpected journey. Plans and circumstances have changed but for thousands of students and parents across the country what was supposed to be an exciting time may be heightened with hesitance and anxiety.

But as we draw towards the UCAS deadline (29 January) we’ve put together some top tips to help support you to make the right decision for your future in these uncertain times. Whether its dodgy internet connections, choice paralysis, confusion or disappointment, we hope these tips go some way to guiding you through making the right choice for you.

Take 10 minutes to read our guide, which could help take a bit of stress outof the process.

Don’t panic:

Applying to university can be a nerve wracking time, but don’t panic. It may be easier said than done, but honestly the best piece of advice we can give you is not to panic. Of course you want to meet the UCAS deadline and of course you want things to go smoothly but if there’s one thing the last year has taught us all, it’s the importance of taking our time and being flexible. There are other options, and whether it’s the late application process, UCAS Extra, Clearing or waiting a little longer, taking stock, not panicking and considering your options is the most valuable thing we can say.  

Don’t sweat the tech:

With so many of us studying and working from home right now, the fight for WiFi bandwidth can be bigger than ever. If you have a younger brother hunting down a Victory Royale on Fortnite, an older sister watching Netflix and two parents listening to Spotify while you’re trying to access the UCAS website, things may be going a little…. slow. But remember the first point, and don’t panic. These are issues everyone is dealing with at the moment, and patience will be important. Take your time and always save your progress!

Focus, focus, focus:

Choosing a university and a university course are big decisions and will have a real impact on the next few years of your life, so take the time to really focus on what is important to you and what you want out of your education and your university experience. There are over 100 universities in the UK each with different specialisms, in different parts of the country and with different course offerings, so understanding exactly what your own desires and expectations are will go a long way to making sure you pick the right course and institution for you.

Research:

If focussing on what you want is important, then researching what universities and courses offer is equally important. Take some time to look at what different cities and universities have to offer and whether they fit in with your ideal plans. If your course is run at a few universities and locations you’re interested in, take the time to find out what the differences are and which might be better for you. Take the time to speak to careers advisers at your school or college, or visit the national careers service website.  And if you have questions speak to the universities you’re interested in, they’re there to help.

It’s good to talk:

Things are not easy right now, and if you’re making a decision which could change the next few years of your life and future career plans, that is going to be an even bigger pressure. Speaking about your concerns with friends, family or professionals can make a big difference to helping ease the challenges and make your decisions clearer. If there’s advice you need, careers teams, university admissions departments and college or school teachers are all there for you. After all it’s what they’re there for.

While going to university is an important and big step in people’s lives and things are very uncertain right now, some of these steps can help guide your decisions, help you keep calm and make everything easier. After all university is a big change but it is also great fun!

Two students standing in front of a long row of bookshelves discussing a book they are holding

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