Applying to University: The Ultimate Guide


No sooner have the kids gone back to school than you’re already having to think about their next move. 

Last week saw UCAS open entries for students applying for 2020 university places across the UK, so we spoke to the experts at Student Hut to get the low down on how the application process works – hopefully saving you and your children some time and unnecessary stress!


The process of applying to university can be confusing for many people. Thinking about higher education comes with a whole host of problems including selecting the right course and institution, writing a personal statement, getting the desired A-Level results and then preparing to move away from home.

Hearing all of this might bring one word to mind… overwhelming.

At Student Hut, we’ve broken up the steps involved, to make the whole thing a little easier for you.

1. Selecting the Right Course

This is arguably the most important element of the entire application process. Before committing yourself to a degree course, it’s important to be sure it’s a subject area you’re going to love: after all, your university studies will most likely lead to a career in your chosen field.

The key at this stage is to do your research into what different courses have to offer. A good idea if you don’t know where to start would be to write down all the subjects which appeal to you, then have a bit of a Google search session to find courses along a similar vein. You may find creating a spreadsheet and adding the different university courses a useful exercise. Adding the required tariff points or grades for each course can make everything more visual and organised.

2. UCAS

Setting up and managing your own UCAS account is central to a successful university application. In the UK, UCAS oversees the entire university admissions process.

Your profile will contain personal information such as your name, age, etc. but will also be where you upload your personal statement and where you can view the progress of your different applications. You can apply for up to five different courses – this can be five different courses at the same university, or five courses at different universities. Any eventual offers will also be visible on here, so try to write down all your log-in details and store them somewhere safe.

3. Preparing A Personal Statement

Writing your personal statement can be a tricky task, yet it’s a pretty simple idea. You will effectively need to show prospective universities why you’re a valuable candidate and sell yourself a bit.

There are a few things which will help make your statement stand out amongst the crowd. Firstly, having some extra-curricular activities such as relevant work experience on the record can make you seem more dedicated to your particular subject (have a look at what clubs your sixth form or college runs if you want to get involved). On top of this, remember to keep your statement super personal to yourself, rather than being generic.

It’s also worth having any family and friends who have already been to university take a look at your personal statement before you submit to get a second opinion, as they may be able to give you an insight into what makes a statement successful. Your college or sixth form will most likely also have a careers advisor who can guide you through the process for some more formal instruction.

4. Entry Requirements

To actually be able to start your chosen course, you are going to have to meet the entry requirements. Usually, UCAS Tariff points are what universities use to set the entry for different courses: these points are typically accrued through your exam grades which all have a certain value (for example, an A grade at A-Level is 48 points, a B is 40, and so on).

Although this is undoubtedly important, it’s also essential to not stress yourself too much. By drawing up a sensible revision plan, you can stick to a structured routine which will massively improve your chances of succeeding during exam season. If you want further information, Student Hut has many articles which can help you prepare for revision.

You can also work out which grades you’ll need to meet the number of tariff points you’re after here by using the UCAS tariff calculator here.

5. Accepting Offers / Clearing

Once you’ve sent off your application, it’s no longer in your hands – you will have to wait for replies from the institutions you’ve applied to. This can be a nerve-racking time, although universities generally strive to let you know whether you’ve successfully received an offer relatively quickly.

It’s a sensible idea to not get your heart totally set on one of your picks, as with universities receiving such a large number of applications from across the globe, it’s not always guaranteed that your application will be successful. With that said, applying as early as possible can help to increase your chances of securing a place, so staying on top of your application and getting it submitted before the 15th January 2020 deadline is a good idea.

Fingers crossed, you’ll get the offer and subsequent grades you need, but when the time comes, if things don’t go according to plan, check out this handy guide to Clearing.

6. Moving Out!

Finally, there’s the big move itself!

Relocating to university is a big change, but many unis accommodate this by making the transition as easy as possible. Most first years tend to move into halls of residence on campus or close to it, where rent, utilities and other expenses are typically grouped into one overall payment, simplifying the process somewhat.

Halls are also a great experience from a social point of view, as they allow you to connect with many hundreds of other freshers. With everyone being in the same boat, if you get involved with as many activities as possible you’ll be able to find some new friends in no time.

In conclusion, despite seeming like a confusing task, through careful planning and working with others, completing your university applications should be a relatively painless process. As long as you do your research and stay on top of your process and your school work, you’re unlikely to encounter any major problems.

So stay calm and good luck!

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