The UCAS deadline has now past, and many of you will already be receiving offers from your potential universities, but the UCAS process isn’t quite over! There is still one major step which you are yet to take, and it’s a really important one. Soon you will have to whittle your five choices down to just two universities, and this decision is going to have a massive impact on the next few years of your life.


No doubt you’ll have spent hours, days, or even weeks pondering over which five universities to put on your UCAS application, and you will have hopefully considered many factors; location, entry requirements, teaching styles, course content, student facilities and league tables. If you haven’t…you still have chance! Once your offers come rolling in, you have the opportunity to cover some of this research again (or for the first time), in order to decide, out of those that have made you an offer, which one best fits with your criteria, ambitions, and gut-feeling. Remember you do not have to reply to your offers until you have received them all, so take your time!


If you do get a rejection from a university, this can be disappointing, particularly if it is your favourite one, but remember you still have your other choices to pick from, and there are other ways to go to different universities at later stages in the UCAS process, or for post-graduate study.

Firm Choice – this should be your most favoured university, because if you meet the grade requirements, you will automatically be accepted here, and this is where you will study for the next three or more years. Bear in mind that you do have an insurance choice, so you can afford to be ambitious with your firm choice. Imagine that everything goes perfectly 2_benefits_of_education_signpostto plan on results day, this choice should be where you want to go! It is possible, although not guaranteed, that even if you drop a grade on your ambitious firm choice offer, they may confirm your place anyway. If not, that’s when your insurance choice becomes very important!

Insurance Choice – your insurance choice is really crucial, and you should consider your options carefully. Don’t just pick one of your choices at random, because you ‘only want to go to your firm choice’. That mind-set won’t be helpful if you drop a grade or two in August.

Hopefully you will never have to think about your insurance choice again, but lots of students find themselves attending their insurance choice university, have a fantastic time and gain an excellent degree, but it’s important you pick the right one. Consider thinking about your insurance choice by imagining you have no firm choice; would you still be happy to study here? Are you more likely to meet these grade requirements? Are you excited by this university? If the answer is yes to these questions, then that university may be a sensible, safe and ideal insurance choice.

Clearing or adjustment – Although right now, your firm and insurance choice should be your priority, when results day arrives, you do a have a couple of extra options. If you miss the grades for both your firm and your insurance choice, you may be able to secure a place at a university through the clearing process. Spaces are limited though, and this should not be a process you intend on relying on.

If your firm choice was slightly under ambitious, and you actually get better grades than you or your teachers predicted, you do have the opportunity to go through the UCAS adjustment process. This allows you to try and find a university with higher entry requirements, and may result in you attending a university higher up the league tables, or one that is part of the Russell Group!

Remember, this is a big decision, and you should try to maximise your chances of going to the best university possible that also meets all of your personal requirements. Be ambitious and aim high with your firm choice, your insurance is there to be safe!

Good Luck!