The University Application Process Explained: What to Expect

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7. Life’s tough when you’re irresistible to five universities and the feelings cannot be reciprocated.

When you have heard back from the universities you have applied for, you have until May to decide which university you’ll select as your firm, or first choice, and which will be your insurance, or second choice.

While being practical, you will need to select the universities you truly love the most. It’s easy thinking, “oh, I’ll never meet my offer,” but the reason a university has given you a conditional place is because they believe you can achieve the grades they ask of you. Your firm choice will be of a higher offer, and usually stands next to an insurance, but it can stand alone – my first choice university gave me the lowest offer out of the five, so I did not need a second. You’re usually warned against choosing a firm and insurance that are only a few grades apart – e.g. AAB and ABB – but it can only depend on how you see yourself doing in the summer exams, realistically of course. When you have chosen your firm and/or insurance choice, you will need to reject the other universities you received offers from. Truly, this is as brutal as it sounds.

After all the conditional and unconditional places are given out, it is also the time to apply for additional universities in the unlikely event you’ve been rejected from all your choices, or if you’re unhappy with what you have been offered. This is called Extra, and it lasts from the end of February until June. Here, you have the opportunity to an reapply to any university for any course, not just the one you originally applied to study. So don’t be too disheartened if your application doesn’t go to plan; you could end up somewhere a million times more suited to you in September.

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