Nobody likes rejection. If you don’t receive an offer from your first choice University, it can feel like nobody wants you, you have nothing left to work towards and your life is, essentially, over.
Too dramatic? Totally. Of course, being rejected by your first choice of institution might sting a little- but there is no need to despair! With a calm head on your shoulders, you should be able to identify your other options and make a quick and sensible decision about what to do next. Missing your first choice does not mean you’ll miss university. Instead, you may even find that things turn out better.
Try a different track
You can, of course, open yourself up to the possibility of accepting another offer. This means thinking seriously about the other choices on your list. During that period between results day and University entry, you can do a lot to help yourself make an informed decision on a second or third choice.
Many universities hold open days during this part of the year. You can attend one of these and get the opportunity to speak to current students, as well as find out what the course is all about. You can meet the academic staff and pick their brains about the courses, and have a good opportunity to wander around the campus and get a feel for the place. It may be somewhere you’d like to attend.
For example, you may find that your second choice University has incredibly positive work prospects. Meeting lecturers, and students in their final year, for example, can tell you a lot about what will happen after you’ve completed a course there.
The location of the University itself counts for a lot. You may discover that your second choice University sits in a town with a better social life and cultural ambience. This pleasant surprise could be a reason for happily taking up an offer.
Don’t forget that there are obvious benefits to the other universities on your list, otherwise you wouldn’t have chosen then. Take the time to investigate these places and work out whether or not they are a good alternative. You could well be pleasantly surprised.
The Extra option
There are still many would-be students who are unclear on the benefits of UCAS Extra. Extra allows you to make a choice if your five initial choices are unsuccessful, or you turn down offers from those universities. The catch is that you can only make one choice at a time with Extra. However, that comes with some benefits too.
Because you’re only allowed to make one choice, it automatically becomes an informed choice. You have to take the time to find out about other courses and universities, and any choice you make through Extra can only ever have been made due to your own research and careful consideration. By limiting choices to just one, this allows you to truly investigate your wider interests and a variety of locations and universities. Extra has proven to be a pleasant surprise for many students, some of whom have even taken a completely different direction in their chosen study path.
Any university approached through the Extra process will be able to see your initial five choices, and your personal statement can’t be changed. That’s why it’s a good reason to always personally get in touch with such universities to establish a connection and talk your choices through.
Clarify your options with Clearing
You can also find a course from the Clearing process. This is notoriously busy and quite stressful if you’re not ready for it. So be prepared, and make sure that you have a ‘Clearing plan’ before the end of the summer. This means identifying some other universities you’d like to attend, and possibly even other courses. If you do have to hit the phones during clearing, having a plan will make the whole process less painful.
Missing that first choice is by no means the end of the world. In fact, it can even lead to some pleasant surprises. There’s every chance you will still attend university, but you must keep an open mind as regards universities and courses. Keep a level head, and the more prepared you are, the better the final outcome.