So, you've submitted your UCAS application... what next?

Your UCAS application is not finished...

Your form may be off to the universities and offers may be coming in, but you’re not done yet!

Over the next few weeks you will have to:

  • make final decisions on where you want to study
  • think about back-up options
  • organise things like finance and logistics

You need to give these things the same energy as you put into your personal statement and course research – if not more!

Hopefully this resource will help you to clarify some next steps and give you some insights into how to make these decisions. Scroll down to find out more!

Think about...

Have you heard back from any universities on UCAS yet?

Have any deadlines for replying to offers been mentioned on your UCAS hub?

Have you had any invitations to post-application events?

Replying to Offers

Once you’ve heard from all of your UCAS choices, you will have a deadline date to make your decisions by. It's important you note this deadline date!

It may be different to your friends, so make sure you note your deadline date down.

The three decisions you may be seeing on your UCAS hub will be:

  • Unconditional offer
  • Conditional offer
  • Unsuccessful

Depending on your successful offers, you will choose 1 or 2 courses by your deadline date.

Making your firm and insurance choices

You can wait until you have received all university responses before making your decisions, so you don't have to reply immediately! You may be really sure about what you want to do but it's good to take some time to think things through.

When accepting offers, you need to choose which category to accept them under - firm or insurance.

Firm - Your firm choice is your preferred university course.

Insurance - Your insurance choice is your back-up university course. It usually has lower entry requirements than your firm choice.

If you have unconditional offers, then you just need to choose a firm choice and the place is yours! If you have conditional offers, then you need to choose both a firm choice and an insurance choice, so that if you don't meet the conditions of your firm choice then you will hopefully meet the conditions of your insurance choice.

Find out more about offer and reply combinations in our Replying to Offers blog post on the LEAPS S6 Blog.

You have some decisions to make...

Ian Sutherland, University of Edinburgh

If you would like to view any of the film clips in this resource with subtitles, please find a subtitled playlist here.

Good decision making tips

Attend post-application events; particularly if you didn’t attend Open Days.

Look at the course content! All degrees called 'Biology' don’t teach the same things.

Look at the paths graduates in this degree have followed; does anything sound interesting?

If you are selecting an insurance choice, choose one that has entry requirements that you are confident about meeting. Remember, this is your backup! (If you have an unconditional, you do not require an insurance choice)

Think about each campus, the facilities and the locality.

Is there support you might need and is this university geared up to help you? For example, is there an academic support team or a student counselling team and how do they support students? Take a look at our blog posts on support for disabled students at college or university and student wellbeing on the LEAPS S6 Blog to find out more about the services available.

Look at the cost of living and public transport around your university options.

Do you want to attend all of your choices? Would you actually go to each of these universities if it came to it?

Try to keep an open mind; your original plans may not be feasible once offers are received.

Post-application Events

Post-application events at universities will be held in spring. You may already have invites to some of these events.

You may be thinking......

I've done the Open Day already! Why should I bother with the post-application event?

The difference between an open day and a post-applicant visit day - the student perspective.

Don'ts when choosing a course.....

Don’t be too influenced by friends or by a current partner's choices.

Your parents' and carers', and teachers' advice of course has a place...but it has to be your decision.

Don’t fall into the trap of making a lazy decision: don't choose where seems easiest to get into, or is closest to your house, without considering all the perspectives!

Why should I finish S6?

Your S6 results may not affect whether or not you get accepted, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important. Here's why:

  • "When you start at university you’ll be straight into assignments, coursework and, for many courses, exams. The qualifications you’re studying for at the moment are essential preparation for this and are the foundations of your future studies.
  • Your new course mates at university are likely to have completed relevant qualifications before they’ve started the course, so you’d have to play catch-up from the moment you arrive if you chose not to finish your S6 qualifications. That’s not easy when you already have so many new things to learn.
  • Sometimes things don’t go to plan. If you arrive at your chosen uni and decide it’s not right for you, you may choose to re-apply for other unis or look for jobs instead. Leaving gaps where your education is concerned could have a negative impact.” UCAS Website

If you want to make any changes to your S6 subjects, whether unconditional or conditional, you need to get in touch with the universities and get their advice as changes could impact your offer - it's always best to check directly.

The Student Voice: Kirsty

Advice for S6 Students

The Student Voice: Ellie

How I made my Choices

The Student Voice: Kirsty

How I made my choices

College Opportunities

College applications usually open in December or January. You apply to colleges directly online via their websites. This is separate to your UCAS application.

Some students choose to go to college instead of university for higher education study.

College can offer great opportunities for students.

  • Colleges offer a range of courses, including higher education qualifications. Take time to look at everything that is on offer when exploring your options.
  • Some colleges offer degrees. Research these along with university opportunities to make sure you find the qualification that best suits you.
  • College can be used as a stepping stone to university. An HNC (Higher National Certificate) can lead into year 2 of a degree and an HND (Higher National Diploma) can lead into year 3 of a degree. This is called 'articulation'. Check out the Pathways website for more guidance.
  • Associate courses are taught with students attending both college and university; the benefits of the facilities and expertise of 2 institutions in one degree.
  • If you're aiming to go to university directly from school, it can still be useful to submit a college application to keep your options open. Once you receive your results, you can then choose the right study option for you!

What opportunities are there for me at college?

The Student Voice: Scott

College Pathways

Back-up options

If you decide you don't want to accept any of your offers, you can decline them all and add more courses with UCAS Extra.*

If you want to wait and see how your exams go, you can see what courses still have vacancies later on in UCAS Clearing.*

* These options will never give you the full range of courses, so think carefully before going down this road.

Your offer may include attendance at a Summer Schools e.g at Glasgow or Dundee. This may seem like extra work but, as well as it being a condition, it will give you excellent preparation for success at university so be positive about this.

Graduate apprenticeships may be an option. These combine work with study. Find out more at and on the dedicated web pages from Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh Napier University.

Over to you...

Deciding on 5 choices for your UCAS form took a lot of research; now deciding on where you will spend the next 4 years of study deserves more.

Test your choices; ask questions, read up and reflect.

Remember to respond on UCAS hub by your deadline date.

Make sure you have solid back-up options; you can’t predict what will happen.

Once your choices are nailed down, don’t delay in looking at your funding with SAAS (this is your responsibility - find out more in our Student Finance blog post on the LEAPS S6 Blog).

Double check any correspondence from universities and look in your email junk folders for anything that might have dropped in there; universities will contact you about anything extra they might need from you and if you don't respond, you risk losing your offer at that institution. Examples might be Nat 5 results on results day or information about residency status.

You will also need to consider and check out your accommodation options. We have a S6 blog post on student accommodation here.

Good Luck!

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