What to do if you don't get an offer from your first choice university
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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 institution is likely to sting, but don’t despair! With a calm head on your shoulders, you should be able to identify other options and make a quick, sensible decision about what to do next. Missing your first choice doesn’t mean you’ll miss university. Who knows? You may even find that things turn out for the best!

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 the period between results day and university entry, you can do a lot to help yourself make an informed decision regarding your second and third choice.

Many universities hold open days during this part of the year. You can attend one of these and get the chance to speak to current students and find out what your chosen course is all about. You can meet the academic staff and pick their brains about the courses, and have a good wander round the campus to get a feel for the place.

For example, you may find that your second choice university has incredibly positive work prospects. Meeting the lecturers and students in their final year, for example, can tell you a lot about what will happen once you’ve completed your course..

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 good reason to take up another offer!

Don’t forget 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 good alternatives. 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 – but 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 have been made through your own research and careful consideration. Limiting choices to just one 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 chose to take a their chosen path in a completely different direction.

Any university approached through the Extra process will be able to see your initial five choices, and your personal statement can’t be changed. This is a good reason to get in touch personally with such universities to establish a connection and talk your choices through.

Clarify your options with Clearing

You can also find a course through the Clearing process. This is notoriously busy and quite stressful if you’re not ready for it. So be prepared, and make sure you have a ‘Clearing plan’ before the end of summer. This means identifying some other universities you’d like to attend, possibly even other courses. If it turns out you have to hit the phones during clearing, having a plan already set in place 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’ll still attend university, but you must keep an open mind when it comes to institutions and courses. Keep a level head, and the more prepared you are, the better the final outcome.

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