Making your firm and insurance choices: top tips
University offers in? Before you start accepting and rejecting offers on Ucas Track, consider these factors first...
So we asked careers advisers and Ucas for their advice on what you should think about when making your firm and insurance choices – take a look at what they said further down.
Didn't get the reply you were hoping for?
See what you can do if your top course choice didn't make you an offer or if you're not holding any offers.
1. Reviewing your offers
2. Making your firm choice
3. Making your insurance choice
1. Review your offers
Fools rush in! Take some time revisiting your course and university options, especially if it's been a while since you sent off your Ucas application.
- Re-familiarise yourself with the course description and modules on offer – the course content needs to match up with what you're looking for in a course. Will you be happy studying this course for the next three years?
- Have you visited the university on an open day yet? It’s the best possible way to get a feel for whether you could see yourself studying and living there for the next few years – a prospectus can only tell you so much.
Once you receive your last decision back from the universities you've applied to, you’ll typically have a few weeks before you need to reply to your offers (but check Track for the exact deadline as this will depend on when you submitted your application).
Before then, get yourself off to an open day or at least suss out the general area.
- Got an unconditional offer? Should you accept?
2. Making your firm choice
Your firm choice should be your first choiceAs in, this is the course you love the most and have your heart set on – in other words, this course is "The One".
If you meet the conditions of your firm offer, then the place is yours – so make sure you're 100% happy with the course at this university. Don't just choose the course with the highest entry requirements out of all the offers you've received.
We've got more advice on making your firm course choice here.
Before you make your firm choice, ask yourself if you’ve got a realistic chance of meeting it. Be honest with yourself.
Is the offer achievable?
It’s also worth weighing up how flexible the course offer might be. While in theory you’ll only secure the place if you meet your offer, in practice, some universities will still accept ‘near-miss’ applicants.
Is the offer flexible?
You can get an idea of what students on the course actually achieved (versus the entry requirements the university asked for) by looking at the '% applicants receiving offers' and 'typical Ucas points achieved by students' stats on any course page on Which? University.
And if in doubt...
3. Making an insurance choice
Your insurance choice should normally be a lower grade offerYour insurance choice should act as a back-up option if you don't get the grades you were expecting and miss out on your firm choice. So it doesn't make any sense picking an insurance choice with higher entry requirements than your firm choice.
You can't swap between your firm and insurance choices
According to advisers, there's a common misconception that your firm and insurance choices are interchangeable – they're not:
Only put down an insurance choice if you’d be happy to go thereAs careers adviser Alan explains, 'an insurance choice is a commitment, not just something you can just dump and go straight into Clearing.'
If there's only one university that you really want to go to, then don't put down an insurance choice – insurance choices are optional.
Also, just keep in mind that your insurance choice might not be able to guarantee you a place in their halls of residence, so you may have to find alternative student accommodation if you end up going there.