Peak Times For Support During the UCAS Application Process
If you’re a parent or guardian, it can be difficult to know how you can help your child or young person through the UCAS application process. We’ve put together a guide to help you, including tips on how to support your child during the various stages.
When AS-level exams are over, encourage your child or young adult to draw up a long list of course ideas. Choosing a course can be a difficult task but they could start by considering the following:
- Career Prospects- they may already have a career in mind, if so help them research what degree will allow them to gain this career. If they don’t know what they want to do in the future, remind them that they can keep their options open as gaining any sort of degree will equip them with transferrable skills to help them gain a career in many different fields.
- Current Studies– they may want to continue with a subject that they’re currently studying at school or college, but university is also a chance to learn something completely new. Attending taster sessions is a great way of experiencing different courses and what they entail.
- Interests and Hobbies– remind them that they will be dedicating probably three or more years of their education to one course, so it is important that they enjoy it. A university degree may be more than an academic interest, it could be a hobby and if they have more than one interest, it is possible to study a joint honours degree.
- Entry Requirements- take a good look at the entry requirements to make sure they are doing everything they can to meet them.
Research is a vital process of choosing a university course. Now is a good time to begin this research work and start attending university Open Days or Taster Sessions. Finding out about the contents of the course as well as getting to know more about the university is an important part of this stage.
The most important thing to remember as they aim to choose their course is that the decision should ultimately be up to them. Be there to support them and don’t be tempted to sway their decision in any direction for your personal interest.
This is a good time to start drafting the personal statement. You could offer to help by highlighting their areas of strength and helping with ideas for how they can fill any gaps in their experience. Encourage them to look for paid or volunteer work, work-shadowing or internships related to their areas of interest.
It’s UCAS application season. If they haven’t already chosen a course, they could seek advice from teachers and a careers adviser. Continue to attend as many Open Days as you can in order to help them make an informed decision. And you may want to follow up on how their personal statement is progressing.
With the January 15 deadline fast approaching, check that they have finalised their choices and got their personal statement in order. Can you help with final checks and proofreading before it is submitted?
University offers should now start to come in, but if your child hasn’t heard back yet, there’s no need to panic - universities have until May to respond and some will be quicker than others. Interviews and entry test invites may also arrive, so you can help with preparation for these and ensuring travel arrangements are made.
If they are applying to a creative course, you may also want to check if their portfolio of work is progressing.
Now is also a good time to start looking at student finance and making an application.
Decision time: have they received and replied to offers? Have their preferences changed? Have they settled on their firm and insurance offers? Aim to have a back-up plan in case things don’t turn out exactly as they had hoped.
They need to be on top of their student accommodation application too as halls of residence are usually allocated on a first come, first served basis.
Exam season: time to make sure your they are best prepared to get those grades, and provide emotional support at this stressful time.
- Make sure they are prepared for results day (usually a Thursday in Mid-August) with information on how to check and confirm their place through UCAS Track.
- It’s a good idea to avoid booking overseas holidays during results time as you will most likely need to be able to get in touch with their chosen university.
- If you think it is possible that your child or young person may need to use the Clearing process, it is worth doing some background research on potential courses and options in advance, and make sure they have access to the internet and a telephone on results day.
- During Clearing, some universities may just ask for grades but others may ask questions to help decide whether to offer a place. Your emotional support will be needed during this process, which can be stressful, and they will need to make the phone calls themselves. Be well prepared with the relevant contact details that can help on the day.
- Once they have secured a place, it’s important to check what happens next with accommodation if they are moving into halls. They may need to confirm their room allocation, and will usually be sent full details of what to bring and moving in dates.
- At this stage, you can help them prepare for university life with all of the home comforts they may want to help them settle in. If your child or young person is not used to cooking for themselves or doing their own laundry, now’s the time to help them brush up on their skills.
- Normally, first-years start their course in the third or fourth week in September, so it’s a good idea to keep weekends free around that time as they may need your help with moving into their accommodation. After that, all you can really do is wait for that first phone call…!