When you get all of your offers in, you need to make some decisions. You need to pick a firm choice, and you need to pick an insurance choice. But, how do you make the right decision?
You should wait until you have all of your offers in. I know this can be really, really hard, because my dream university didn't send me an offer until the end of March when my first offers were coming in before Christmas and some of your friends may be getting offers at different times to you. Some of the courses send out offers really quickly, whereas some of them interview, others take a bit more time over their decisions. Your friends may have had all of their offers in before you even got any through.
As I have said many times before, I think you should go to the place where you are going to be happiest, and hopefully, you've got an offer through from them and that can be your firm choice. But if you haven't or if you're wondering how to decide on your insurance choices, then there are a quite a few things you need to take into account.
Firstly, you need to make sure your insurance choice has lower grades than your firm choice. Because your insurance choice is where you're going to go if you don't get the grades if you don't get into your firm choice. I don't mean just one grade below in one subject. It's generally a good idea to go at least one grade below in all subjects. So that this a proper safety net if your exam results aren't exactly what you need. You could decide to take the risk and put an insurance choice that is only just below your firm choice, but you're going to have to acknowledge that this is a risk, because sometimes if you only just miss your offer, then your firm choice may take you and your insurance choice isn't actually much of a safety net.
If you have no one particular standout university or you're not sure what to pick as your insurance choices then there are quite a few different factors we can take into account when making our decision. The first thing would be the offer, the grades. Are there two courses where you'd be equally happy on either the course, but one has quite high grades and one has grades which are a bit more attainable. If you went for the one that has the higher grades, would you be spending next few months really stressed, really worried trying to push yourself a little bit too hard? Maybe if you went for the one that had lower grades you could relax a little bit, not be quite so stressed over the exam periods, slightly surer that you would actually get those grades. So looking at the grades, looking at the offer, looking at the UCAS points that are required of you is one maybe a bit out of your reach and might make you a bit too stressed?
If you can afford it and if you can find the time to do it, you can go and visit. This could just be for a day trip, and this could be doing all the touristy things. Go and spend some time in the city, go and spend some time just hanging out at the university and see what it's like. This may give you a particular feeling for one university and may give you a particular inclination towards university or it may completely put you off a place.
You could be really brave and call them and talk to them, most places have students' unions who are really enthusiastic and want to share their enthusiasm with loads of other people. If you don't want to call them up, universities these days have a big presence on social media, and all of them are going to have Twitter accounts, Instagram accounts, that are managed generally by students, or people like the students' union, who are there to answer your questions, they're going to have ‘a day in the life’ posts, ask your question, loads and loads of things and events going on. There are also loads of student vloggers, I've listed of all of those for you, what universities they're at, what courses they're doing, so you can actually go and experience, see what they're really up to, and try and get an impression of whether that'd be suited to you as well.
You can spend some time delving deep into the course units, looking exactly at the modules. You might have done this when you were applying for courses, but that was probably a few months ago now, and you might have forgotten. Spend a bit of extra time, looking in detail at exactly what each course entails. Does one course maybe stand out a little bit more to you? Does one course maybe have something you're not sure about? And look at how they assess, is one course really exam-based, is one course really coursework-based and which style of assessment is going to suit you best.
And then lastly, before you actually fill in UCAS Track, you should be a decision, make a firm decision, and then sleep on it, and then if in the morning when you wake up, you're happy with the decision, you feel confident in your decision, you can generally be fairly sure that you've made the right decision. If in the morning you're still unsure, and you're not very confident with the decision that you have made, make a different decision, and sleep on it, you do have time for this decision, you don't have to rush into anything, because this is a really big decision that you're making at the moment. This is going to be where you're living for the next three years, so you have to make the right decision.
Do not forget that you can decline all of your offers, if you change your mind, if none of the offers are really what you want. If you're not confident that you're going to be happy in these offers, or confident that you're going to be happy at this university, then you can decline all of the offers. You can apply through Clearing, you can take a gap year, or you can just start again next year, and apply fresh with your results already in hand. You do have lots of options, there are lots of things for you to think about, but if you make the wrong decision, it is not the end of the world.
I have talked a lot about how to pick between your offers, but here are 10, terrible ways to pick between your offers.
Firstly, you do not have to accept an offer just because it is an unconditional offer. Unconditional offers are given out by universities to tempt you in, to try and encourage you to go there, but if you're not confident that you're going to be happy there, do not accept it just because it's an unconditional offer.
Unconditional offers are a double-edged sword. If you get an unconditional offer, it can be really flattering because the university is telling you that they really, want you to come to the university, that your interview, that your personal statement, that your admissions test was so amazing, it doesn't matter what A level results you get, they still want you to come.