Liz Wright

A Student's Diary – Applying to University


Back to School

It’s that time of year again, summer is over *sigh* and things are back in full swing at sixth form or college. Many, like me, will have received their AS results during the summer holidays which for better or worse may have an impact on your university application.

Before I go on I just want to say that these results do not define you, and for those who are disappointed just remember that no exam is a true measure of who you are and what you can achieve.

Right, onto AS results: first of all, well done to those who got what they wanted. Try to remember that results are relative, some people may be over the moon with a D while others are disappointed with a B. If you didn’t quite get what you want then don’t be downhearted, there are so many options open to you.

First of all if you started with 4 subjects then you are able to drop one, though I would suggest thinking carefully about this and having a discussion with parents/careers officer before making any firm decisions. Dropping a subject can also be useful if you need to do a couple of AS resits in a subject that you perhaps didn’t do as well as you were hoping (or, like me, did most poorly in the subject you want to do at university…whoops).

For some there is the option to drop out of A Levels completely and take up a vocational course at college, or an apprenticeship in your chosen career. Although this may not always lead to progression to university, for some people it is the right choice. Many a success story skipped out on university all together.

For those sticking with the uni route now is the time when UCAS really starts coming into effect.

Filling in your application form seems like an arduous task that’s going to take forever –  the truth is that you can get the main body of it done in less than an hour. The real challenge is the dreaded personal statement, squeezing everything you want to say into 47 lines or 4,000 characters. I found it helpful to look at examples on the internet or from older friends/family to give me an idea of where to start. The Complete University Guide also provides a pretty comprehensive guide to writing your personal statement.  

UCAS in 200 words

It’s easy to think ‘oh I’ll do it later’ but the trouble is time passes so quickly and before you know it its three days before the deadline and you’re waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat worrying about what you’ve forgotten. Get a couple of drafts completed and take them to the relevant member of school staff to check over; it really is a load off your mind to get it done.

I’m sure a lot of you will feel exhausted at the prospect of another year’s hard work and lack of social life. But if you think about it, it’s not even a year, with exam leave and holidays you’ve probably got about 7–8 months left of your entire school career. Some of you will find that terrifying, others exciting.

These next months are going to define at least the next 3–4 years of your life, for some the rest of your life, so I think it’s worth making the effort now to save any regrets later down the line.