Applying to university or college next year? Read these top dos and dont's by Cathy Gilbert, Director of Customer Strategy at UCAS.

Do – research your university and degree course choices carefully before applying. For me, that should include going to open days as well as looking at the online information. You’ll spend three or four years studying in higher education, so you should be really passionate about the course content and your chosen place of study.

Do – remember the UCAS application deadlines. The first date on the horizon this year is the 15 October deadline for applying to Oxford and Cambridge, and for courses anywhere in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and veterinary science. The key deadline for most other courses is 15 January next year. You’ll have to send your application to us by this time to be certain of consideration.

Do – make the most of the help available from UCAS on Working through our Six steps to applying will make the process much easier. You can also watch videos on UCAStv featuring students who have already started and been through big events like Freshers’ Week. If you have a burning question at any stage of the process why not ask our team of experts on Twitter (@ucas_online) and Facebook (/ucasonline)? You’ll get a clear answer back very quickly.

Don’t – forget that some universities and colleges will ask you to sit an admissions test in addition to the standard qualifications. The Admissions tests section of the UCAS website will help you understand some of these and the UCAS bookstore has guides dedicated to many of them.



Don’t – be tempted to submit a copied personal statement or one downloaded from a website. Thankfully, only one percent of applicants did this last year. UCAS is quite clear that personal statements should be an applicant’s own work, although we do advise that parents and teachers check them over. Our computer system has tens of thousands of personal statements on file and similarities will be flagged up to the universities.

Don’t – panic about tuition fees. There is a wealth of information out there to help you understand the costs of higher education – and remember you won’t have to pay anything upfront. You can visit the student finance section of the UCAS website to find out more, or visit Moneysavingexpert’s Students section.

Good luck, Cathy Gilbert

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