Smiling female student in Portsmouth

Should I apply now?

Things to consider when making your uni application

Applying to uni now is a bigger decision than it would be without the coronavirus pandemic. So we want to help you make the right decision for you.

Things to consider

There are still plenty of good reasons to start uni in 2020 or early 2021.

Your introduction to uni life may be a little different this year, but starting uni is always an exciting time, and there are definitely benefits to getting your studies started, rather than taking a year out.

Get a head start on your studies

Your first few months at uni can be busy. You're getting to know the campus, meeting new people, attending new societies and trying to study.

You'll still get the same chances to experience the best of student life but, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many start-of-term events may be postponed until later in the academic year. This gives you a great opportunity to get used to your new course and your timetable without trying to be everywhere at once.

By applying to uni this year, you can get started on your studies without being overwhelmed by the transition to uni life.

Prepare for your studies

We want you to make the most of the time before uni. But with extra time spent at home than on holidays, you can start preparing for your studies with the wealth of free study skills courses and guides that are available online.

We have various study skills guides that you can start reading now. Take a quiz to find out what kind of learner you are, find out about digital tools for students and start learning how to write in an academic style and structure academic reports.

The UK Government has also put together its own Skills Toolkit that you can use. This is a list of free beginner, intermediate and advanced courses on topics such as how to learn online, the digital workplace, how to present your work and how to start coding.

Check out our blog post on free online learning resources for university applicants for more ideas. And get more tips on preparing for your studies from our schools and colleges blog.

Get a head start on your career

Finding jobs can be hard right now and while many students take a year out to work, that might be harder this year. But the sooner you start uni, the sooner you graduate.

Think about starting uni as taking the first step in your journey to your career and getting a job in an area you're passionate about.

You could save money

It's still uncertain when all universities will return to on-campus learning, or if they will continue teaching classes online. 

If you don't need to move away from home straight away, you could save up to 4 months on rent, bills and living costs – that's a lot of money that students usually miss out on.

Imagine how useful your student loan will be once the lockdown restrictions are lifted – when the time comes to start meeting people, you'll have already settled into your studies.

You have the time to focus on your application

It's likely that you're spending more time at home now than you normally would.

Take this as an opportunity to submit the best application you can. This includes using our guides on writing your personal statement. Ask friends and family who have more time to help you remember your achievements and read over your statement to check for any errors.

See if you can book in a call with the person writing your reference. You can still get in touch with your teachers and advisers, even if you can't see them in person right now.

Writing your personal statement

Read our guide to writing your personal statement and find out what to include, how to start and what makes a good one:

Make sure you make the most of virtual experiences on offer as well. While you can't visit the university in person right now, many are running online open days and hosting virtual experiences so you can explore every aspect of the uni from home.

Your interviews may be online

Interview can be a big part of your application on certain courses. If a course does require an interview or test, it should say so on the course web page and the UCAS course search.

You won't miss out on getting the chance to promote yourself in an interview just because there are lockdown restrictions right now. Instead, interviews will be held online.

If you've been invited by us to interview for your course, please contact if you haven't heard from us. We'll let you know the arrangements.

How your application will be assessed

Applying to university this year won't reduce your chance of getting the place you want – you're just as likely to get accepted this year as in any other year.

If you're applying for an undergraduate course, we understand you might be nervous about the grades you get after your A level exams and assessments were cancelled because of coronavirus.

If you're applying for a postgraduate course, we recognise the coronavirus outbreak may affect your ability to engage and complete your assessments.

Universities are working closely with UCAS, the UK government and the exam boards to understand and minimise the impact exam cancellations will have on your application.

It's important to remember that as well as your grades, admissions teams also closely consider:

  • past and predicted academic achievements and qualifications, including GCSE performance
  • your personal statement
  • your references
  • extra-curricular activity such as work-experience, cultural and social life, and non-academic qualifications such as Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Young Enterprise
  • interview performance (if relevant)
  • portfolio quality (if relevant)
  • admissions test or exam performance (if relevant)
  • extenuating circumstances (if relevant)
  • your enthusiasm, commitment and potential

How to apply

If you decide going to uni is the best step for you this year, find out how to apply for an undergraduate course through clearing or find the perfect postgraduate course.

Final advice

Whatever you decide, starting uni is a big decision and the coronavirus pandemic makes the choice harder.

If uncertainty around your application is affecting you, visit the Student Minds charity website for a full list of resources that address everyday worries, as well as specific worries due to coronavirus.

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