UMASS Blog

Managing your university offers….

It’s that time of year again and many of you will be revising hard for your January exams. Exam stress combined with the dismal weather makes the recent Christmas break seem like a distant memory.  To add to those January blues, many of you will be waiting anxiously to see whether your hard work in writing your personal statements has paid off…in receiving those desired university offers.

Well…you shouldn’t have long to wait now, with many students already receiving decisions on their applications from various institutions across the country.  To keep track of your applications, go online and login to UCAS Track (which does exactly what it says on the tin) which simply, allows a student to track updates on the decisions made from their chosen universities.

However, due to the volume of applications not all universities are as speedy in terms of making their decisions, so some of you will have to wait a little longer.  Ok time for some good news.  Having already (presumably) submitted your application to UCAS then your application is classified as ‘on time’ and this means that your chosen universities are required to consider your application as equally as everyone else’s. Universities have until the end of March to issue students with a response on their applications, so if you haven’t heard anything at this stage…don’t worry (I think the song goes…) be happy.

Moving forward…What do the different offers mean?

A university will provide you with one of three replies:

Unconditional: This is the moment where you jump off your seat in excitement! The University has accepted you with the qualifications you already have, meaning you’ve got a guaranteed place on the course if you want it. Time to start planning where to live…
Conditional: Still time to punch the air with a rather loud cheer! Although there is more work to be done I’m afraid. The university will accept you onto the course provided you meet the standards they set out, which normally means getting certain grades… so use this as that extra incentive to focus and work hard for the rest of the year.

Unsuccessful: Unfortunately the university has not accepted you onto the course you applied for but don’t let that get you down there maybe up to four more responses to be received yet, so all is not lost.

How do I reply to my offers??

You don’t have to reply straight away, so wait until you’ve heard back from all of your five choices. If you have been lucky enough in receiving various offers think carefully about which of the courses that have made offers you most want to do, and get back to them before the deadline on your UCAS track page. Remember! You can only accept two offers, so if you’ve got more than two you’ll need to do some thinking and decline some first.

Now is the time to make some tough decisions, you need to make one course your ‘firm’ choice and one your ‘insurance’ choice so compare your options thoroughly.

Firm choice: Firmly accepting an unconditional offer commits you to that course, and you will also be accepted if you get the grades of your conditional offer, so make sure this is definitely the one you want most.

Insurance choice: If you’ve accepted a conditional offer as your firm choice, you can also choose another course for ‘insurance’. Your ‘insurance’ choice can be either a conditional or unconditional offer, but most people will choose a course that needs lower entry grades, so they’ve got a ‘back up plan’ if they don’t get the grades for their first choice. It is important that you think long and hard about choosing your insurance choice as you are committed to this university if you don’t succeed in being accepted into your firm choice.

What if I get no offers?

Not getting any offers at all might be disappointing – but it’s not the end of the world! If you can’t or don’t want to wait another year to apply again, you can always use UCAS Extra from the end of February, which lets you apply for courses that still have places free until the end of June. You can also use UCAS Extra if you’ve had a change of heart and declined all of your other offers. You are however, committed to the first offer you accept on UCAS Extra and you don’t get an insurance choice.

Still not been able to find a course?… then there is still light at the end of the tunnel as you might qualify for clearing in August so there is plenty of options still available to you! The main thing is not to panic, keep focused and you will eventually arrive at your chosen destination.