Having applied for up to five higher education courses via UCAS, you’ll now be starting to receive the Uni decisions and considering how you will reply. The decisions (hopefully offers) will reach you via UCAS Track online. Chances are that you will be checking your mobile daily for the latest info, but try not to compare the speed of your Uni decisions – or the deadline for you to make your choices – with your friends as they’ll all be different.

Track works really efficiently and tells you exactly what you need to do and when. There are also lots of helpful tips on the UCAS website and on their You Tube videos so do make time for these if you’re not sure – or speak with your local careers adviser. Here are a few snippets covering some common queries …

When can I expect to hear back from the Unis?

UCAS asks the Unis to make their decisions by the end of March for most courses, but certainly by early May at the latest. Some reply within a few days of your application, whilst others can take much longer and UCAS will let you know as soon as they hear from each of the five you applied to.

Where can I find my Uni decisions?

If you go to UCAS Track in ‘Your Choices: Offers Received’, you can find each individual Uni offer, the conditions made on any offer, or the reason given for an ‘Unsuccessful’ decision. It’s really clearly laid out so you can easily see the latest position and what to do next.

What are the three types of Uni decision?

The three possible Uni decisions are (1) ‘Unconditional’ (guaranteed place), (2) ‘Conditional’ (subject to terms such as exam grades/tariff points or an ‘invitation’) or (3) ‘Unsuccessful’ (you haven’t got an offer).

And what are the three ways I can reply to an Invitation?

If the Uni requires anything more than exam grades/tariff points, it is called an ‘Invitation’. Examples include being called for an interview/audition or asked to submit a portfolio/essay. In Track under ‘Your Choices: Offers Received’ you can choose one of three possible replies to an invitation: (1) ‘Accept’ or (2) ‘Decline’– or, if an interview/audition, you can choose (3) to ‘Request an Alternative Date’.

And what about the three ways to reply to positive offers from the Unis?

Assuming you have received some positive offers – and all* your replies are back in – you can accept a maximum of two that have made you an offer – (1) a ‘Firm’ (first) choice and (2) an ‘Insurance’ (reserve) choice. To make these choices, go into UCAS Track and reply to your offers starting with your ‘Firm’ choice followed by your (optional) ‘Insurance’ choice. Then (3) ‘Decline’ all your other offers. Track will guide you through what to do in order.

When do I need to reply to the Uni offers I’ve received?

Just as the Unis are given a deadline by UCAS to make their decisions, so you have a UCAS deadline to reply to those decisions: it’s a highly oiled machine which works extremely efficiently as a result. Once all your possible decisions are in, UCAS will advise you in UCAS Track of the deadline for you to reply to any offers you’ve received. This timescale does depend on when your final decisions come in and UCAS Track will guide you clearly on what to do, how to do it and when to do it.

Again, just be aware that your deadline to reply may be different to that of your friends because it is based on the date when UCAS received the last of your possible* Uni decisions. If your friends are applying to different courses at different Unis and with different expected grades/tariff points, they will very likely receive their decisions (hopefully offers) at different times to you – so there is no point in comparing.

What if I don’t want to apply for a course any more?

* There is a fourth option available to you and it reduces the number of possible offers that you can receive from the original five. If you’ve changed your mind and don’t want to be considered for a course any more, you can (4) ‘Withdraw’ your application in UCAS Track before you know what the Uni has decided,

Any tips on making my Firm choice?

In making your ‘Firm’ choice, you are committing to study that course once you get the required grades/tariff points (assuming you don’t ask the Uni to reject/release you) so it is really important that you know that it is exactly the right one for you. It might have been your original first choice, but if the Uni hasn’t made you a ‘realistic’ offer that you can achieve; sadly, you might want to rethink your plans before you commit.

Then, just as you would do when making your initial application, talk with your teachers about the offers you can actually now choose from, re-check the Uni comparison sites such as Unistats and re-read the Uni website thoroughly. Specifically, re-check details of the course such as location, modules and links with employers. And if you haven’t already visited, try and also get to the Uni before you decide. Check for an Open Day (we’ve the local ones on Careersnearhere.com), otherwise ring and see if you can arrange to take a look around. Remember that you’re the one taking the degree for the next three or four years. If you couldn’t stand doing it – don’t accept the offer. The ball’s now ‘back in your court’: it’s your decision what to do next.

And what about my Insurance choice?

The same applies when considering which course to have as your ‘Insurance’ choice. You want to make a sound decision as you are committing to study this course if you get the required grades/tariff points, assuming you don’t get the ones required for your ‘Firm’ choice (and that you haven’t also asked the ‘Insurance’ Uni to reject/release you).

Unless you accept an ‘Unconditional’ offer as your ‘Firm’ choice, it’s considered sensible to have an ‘Insurance’ choice just in case you don’t get into your ‘Firm’ choice next Autumn. Take into consideration the actual offers that you’ve received so that you are not simply choosing two similar courses with similar requirements because if you don’t get the grades/points, you’ll not be going to either!

Again, remember to check UCAS.com for the full details and always refer to your local careers adviser for details specific to your circumstances. And we’ve lists of advice and guidance websites on the Careersnearhere information pages.

Careersnearhere.com: It’s Your Future – Let’s Get It Started. Please always feel free to Share with parents/carers, teachers and 16-21s. Post Likes appreciated. Facebook Page Likes adored.