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How to make the most of your 5 university options

Updated on 23 August 2018

How to make the most of your 5 university options

A full breakdown on how make the best choices with your university options.**Campus or city?

Rural or urban?

Close to home or far, far away?**

The required when applying to university might seem overwhelming as they represent some big upcoming changes in your life.

For some, the process might appear so confusing or vast that they don't go about it as effectively as they could. Students who don't utilise all five of their UCAS applications risk limiting their choices, as well as missing out on potentially great opportunities further down the line.

So, why is this? And how do you make the most of your potential options?

Make sure you're getting your information from the right places - your older cousin who had an amazing experience at X University three years ago and came out with a first might not be the right source. Were they on the same course as you want to do, or even a similar one? What made that particular university so great? Do you actually want the same things from your university experience?

Ditto, friends who settled early and decisively on their desired universities and had their UCAS forms sent off before Christmas.

That's not to say that your peers don't have an important role to play when the decision is being made – but strong views from friends or family members near in age might skew the process somewhat. Yes, it's hard to leave your friends, but many others are in the same boat in university and you may have better opportunities further afield.

Make the most of the research resources available to you through the internet, campus visits and conversations with potential course tutors. Also, have some conversations with your parents and guardians. You might not believe that they know what you need, but it's likely that they'll come to the university conversation without bias and with only your best interests at heart.

So, with valuable research under your belt, how are you going to structure your options? After all, university application is all about strategy. Here is our advice on how to approach the five different places on your UCAS list...

Reach university

Sure, you're unlikely to get in. But there's always a slight chance that, with a killer personal statement and a supportive tutor championing you, you just might. With five universities to apply to, there's space on the UCAS form for a university to reach for. The main barrier to applying for top tier universities, as long as you are capable to start with, is confidence.

Viable option #1

The university that you will hopefully end up attending, where the grades required align with what you're predicted and the environment, course and facilities are likely to give you the best chance of achieving your goals.

Viable option #2

Ideally, this will be the insurance choice – somewhere that you will be very happy to go, that you've visited and read up on and like the sound of, and that (importantly) you are likely to exceed the grades for.

Viable option #3

Again, somewhere with a course and environment that feels right for you – with grades that are more than achievable.

Guaranteed fall-back

Just in case things don't go as planned, because it's always good to have a safety net – or, in this case, a Plan C.

The most important thing for students applying via UCAS is a plan – and with the above choice structure, alongside reliable research from the most important sources, you can give yourself the best possible chance of success at university and beyond.

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