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 Post subject: First timer!!
PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2019 10:06 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:38 am
Posts: 1442
Location: West Midlands / warks border
Can't believe we are now at the Uni part of our lives!

DS1 in year 12 studying ,maths, chemistry and physics.

His 'UCAS' exams start in 5 weeks and I only recently realised how important these will be.

Not really sure yet of the whole process, but we have an information evening at school this week, so hoping this will help.

DS not really sure what he wants to do, but looking at Civil Engineering degree.

We have some university open days booked in, so far we have Warwick, Birmingham , Bristol and Nottingham.

Will be looking at Cambridge too, but DS thinks this will be too hard. Maybe Bath too, but it's not Russell Group, so not really sure if that matters or not.

I have questions, if anyone can help?

1) do GCSE results go on UCAS form?
2) how many uni's can you apply to?
3) how does it all work?

Complete novice, so any information would be very helpful.

Thanks


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 Post subject: Re: First timer!!
PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2019 10:56 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:01 pm
Posts: 9384
Location: Herts
Hello,

You have to declare all your exam results on your UCAS form including resits.

You have five spaces on your UCAS form.

It is a bit like the CAF form, you don't apply directly to the unis, you apply to UCAS and then they manage the process sending you offers and rejections.

In May of Y13 you decide on one firm offer and one backup.

Your offers will require certain grades at A levels unless you already have the A levels.

Once you have offers the unis will run offer days when you have the chance to ask more detailed questions.

If you miss your grades for your firm offer and your back up you can then go into clearing and have the chance to secure a place elsewhere.

My dds found going to taster days very helpful for clarifying what studying these subjects would be like at University.

Dd1 identified her subject in Y9 and is now studying it at University.

Dd2 started with applying for a joint degree but then changed her mind and now has offers on a single honours degree.

In the process of offer days she lost confidence in the ability of departments to work together and is now very focused on the single subject.

Both dds have experienced their peers dropping out in the first year so it is important to choose carefully.

Students are required to send a personal statement with their application.

Both dds got a range of adults to review this and ended up with some great revisions.

However plenty of their colleagues did the whole thing through school. DG


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 Post subject: Re: First timer!!
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:04 am 
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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 5:27 pm
Posts: 4584
Location: london
Bath is a much more highly regarded University than many of the (self selected) Russell Group, especially for Engineering where it is particularly highly regarded. Courses differ hugely so get DS to look into this before investing too much time and money on visits. Finally with visits, often they just go alone or with friends. Both my DD were able to write off previous front runners after seeing the campus or getting more of a flavour of the courses. Î’m not sure how logical their decisions were but it is hard to narrow the choice down so any reason to strike one off the list is helpful! It is an exciting but at times stressful experience for DC and I found feeding them, listening and the changing the subject on their return from each trip was my most important role! Good luck.

_________________
mad?


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 Post subject: Re: First timer!!
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:56 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:59 pm
Posts: 5793
I would advise that you do (as you have started) a long list online (looking at whether your DS prefers campus/city/what's on offer socially/what sort of course etc) and then short list for Open Days. Open days are a bun fight and can be very off putting - generally you are herded like sheep and can't ask too specific questions - they are just to get an overall feel of the place. I know people who have gone to loads and others who went to very few. DS1 went to 5 (but her has specific asd needs so had to go to more than I would have thought!) The offer days are smaller and at that point the uni wants you there so it is marketing themselves in the best light and you making direct comparisons between places you hold offers. You don't have to go to any, of course!

I would suggest that you get your ds to look at a range of unis - currently looking at all RG ones who are not necessarily the best for engineering - Bath has ranked 5th this year for CE, Strathclyde and Aberdeen are in the top 10 above many RG unis. (Caveat - all legaue tables are flawed somewhere...!!!) He has to like the place he is going, it also has to be practical in terms of access - is it far enough from home, for example, but can he get back if he wants. Can he afford to live there?

Offers vary and it is sensible in your 5 choices to have some aspirational and some achievable offer levels so that if A levels don't go to plan, there is back ups. Ultimately the 5 you list are ones you hope to get an offer or interview and then offer from. Many courses are automated now so if you meet the GCSE scores (or have very high GCSEs) and predicted grades for A levels, you get an offer very quickly based on an algorithm. Others require interviews. Once you have heard back from all 5 (rejections/offers) then you have to firm one and insure another (it makes sense if the firm is a higher offer requirement,
but this is not always the case). Clearing is where you have no offers or you have changed your mind and want to release yourself from the uni you have firmed - try not to worry about that at this point.

Personal statements are banged on about ad infinitum on here - getting stuff "that looks good on your personal statement" - they are important in the sens of the skills your ds is learning as he does stuff that 'will look good on his PS" but the ps itself is becoming less important in the grand scheme of things. Most universities quietly tell CAs they don't really look at them, and I notice for competitive courses like Medicine/ Vet and some engineering courses, they are openly saying they don't look at them unless it is the case of a tie break between candidates. It must be well written, however, and it must show what you have done AND HOW THAT RELATES to why you want to study that course - it is all about the skills you have learned that are relevant, not just a list of tick boxes.

Yes GCSEs are important - any exam you have taken must be listed - even if it is a fail/bad grade - lies/omissions on the UCAS form are inevitably found out, and can result in your application being voided. Predicted grades will come in part from Y12 "mock" exams now so they have become massively more important again - your school have obviously called them "ucas" exams for this reason.

Got to dash now but hope that helps!


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 Post subject: Re: First timer!!
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:01 am 
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Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:38 am
Posts: 1442
Location: West Midlands / warks border
Thanks for your replies, this is extremely helpful.

He did extremely well in his GCSE's so this could be helpful in securing a place.

His latest report shows predicted grades of A* A* A, so if he keeps up the hard work, hopefully he'll get some good offers.

From your advice it would be a good idea to have a uni with lower grades (I think Nottingham is AAB, whereas Bristol is higher)

He is booked onto talks at Bristol for Civil and Mechanical, as he doesn't know which to take, so hopefully this will help.

We are visiting 6 unis, at the moment, Bristol is preferred with Nottingham second, but obviously once he visits, that could all change. Both are about an hour from home, so weekends back would be easy enough, if he wants to!!

I will no doubt have many more questions.

Thanks again.


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 Post subject: Re: First timer!!
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:35 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:45 pm
Posts: 6676
We found (for a different branch of engineering) that the universities were quite open about whether they looked at the PS. Liverpool stated quite openly that they did not, but might go back to it if you just missed your grades, whereas somewhere else (I forget where!) said that they did look at them.
My pieces of random advice would be:
Choose the course followed by the actual uni (& look at campus/non campus/city etc)
Talk to students. Does everyone go home at the weekend, for example?
Don't get hung up on the accomodation. They will show you the best on the tours & chances are your DS won't end up in that accommodation anyway. On the same subject, this year many unis have been opening their accommodation portals early as a way of getting people to choose them & students are finding a very poor selection of accommodation available, even as early as March (Nottingham have done this). So beware if they are thinking of sitting in offers until May, check how accommodation is allocated.
If your DD enjoys a sport, find out how competitive it is (particularly at Loughborough). Both my DCs have been unable to continue their particular sports because they like to play for fun rather than super competitively. Doing a sport often requires a huge commitment (time & £).
And definitely don't get hung up on RG/non RG. They are a self selecting group & the courses at other places may be better (& better thought if).


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 Post subject: Re: First timer!!
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:52 am 
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Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 1:05 pm
Posts: 6395
Location: Reading
Since the focus is engineering, decide on whether doing an MEng straight off or doing a Masters after. Does the course offer a placement year and how much help do they offer to get one.
Most importantly, check the course is accredited by the relevant Engineering institution. Just about all will be, but sometimes the odd one isn’t for various reasons, usually not for long.
Most courses will be similar in content, as they have to be to get accreditation, so look at how the course is taught and what extras and options are offered, eg languages.

I know for another subject Bath do look at the PS but I don’t know if that applies across the board. It’s certainly a well thought of uni.

(My DD is in year 12 too so currently at the same stage, although she isn’t interested in engineering. AS level mock this morning. Year 12 exams half half term. )


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 Post subject: Re: First timer!!
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 8:07 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:59 pm
Posts: 5793
nervousmom wrote:
Thanks for your replies, this is extremely helpful.

He did extremely well in his GCSE's so this could be helpful in securing a place.

His latest report shows predicted grades of A* A* A, so if he keeps up the hard work, hopefully he'll get some good offers.

From your advice it would be a good idea to have a uni with lower grades (I think Nottingham is AAB, whereas Bristol is higher)

He is booked onto talks at Bristol for Civil and Mechanical, as he doesn't know which to take, so hopefully this will help.

We are visiting 6 unis, at the moment, Bristol is preferred with Nottingham second, but obviously once he visits, that could all change. Both are about an hour from home, so weekends back would be easy enough, if he wants to!!

I will no doubt have many more questions.

Thanks again.


Interestingly, Bristol on paper was DS1s preference, but when he went for the Open Day, although he said it was OK, by the time he had visited others, it didn't even make the UCAS cut. With regards to which to firm/insure, you may not have the luxury of a lower grade offer for insurance - warn your son to think carefully about which one he would prefer to go to - some unis are a bit sneaky and offer things like a lower grade if you firm them....not always a good thing....!

I do second the accommodation thing - some of the unis take your choices and then effectively do a ballot on a set day, so everyone has an equal chance of getting one of their options (Birmingham require you to list 6 choices), others (eg Nottingham) do the first come first served which is massively unfair to Medics/Vet/Dentistry students who, although they have to apply early, the process can take months before offers come through with interviews etc. Don't choos a university based on a lovely ensuite bedroom they showed you - the chances of getting that are slim - and the chances of affording it are even slimmer! (Most loans don't even cover the cost of the rent at some unis).

And Tinker is the expert in engineering - completely agree about the placement year - it really will be invaluable for a Civ Eng degree - but if they don't help with placements it can be very stressful...!


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 Post subject: Re: First timer!!
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 8:15 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:45 pm
Posts: 6676
A further thought on MEng vs BEng. Many universities offer lower grades for the BEng & you can switch as long as you get 60% in the first year. So if your DD isn't certain of high grades (sounds as though he has reason to be confident, but may help others in the future). They can of course switch the other way as well if they decide a career in engineering is not for them (I know a maths teacher who is an engineering graduate & says 50% of his course mates at a very well thought of engineering university did not go into engineering, many went into the City).


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 Post subject: Re: First timer!!
PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 12:47 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 1:05 pm
Posts: 6395
Location: Reading
It’s worth looking for the May/June open days as well as the later ones in September/October.

When DD was looking at the ones she had shortlisted at least two had open days on the same day. Thankfully we went to one last Autumn so will manage to go to the other one in June.

When it came to doing her shortlist, she looked at the unis that did the subject she is interested in. Discounted all the Scottish and Northern England ones (too far to travel, nothing against the north :lol: ). Discounted the ones that didn’t offer a placement year.
Then looked at the campus/city aspects. Then Grades required, graduation employment rates, student satisfaction ratings etc. Plus a look at several different league tables (it’s quite something how different ones score, and one uni can be high on one and really not that high on another).

She has a list of 4. With various grade off requirements. Having seen two, she knows which one so far she prefers, but would be happy with the other. It’s a case of whether either of the other two impress more or less.

I suspect a fifth choice will be stuck on but I have no idea what she might decide. If her grades aren’t good enough for any on her shortlist of 4 it will need a big rethink, as she will have really underperformed in that case.


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