How To Play The UCAS Waiting Game

Don’t sweat it guys – you’re going to absolutely ace your exams this year! Like we told you before, if you put in the work, your exams will a piece of cake. There’s absolutely nothing to worry about-

Or at least, this is the attitude we wish we could. Although here at Source we have a sneaky good feeling about all of you, it is far easier said than done when it comes to being relaxed about exams… Especially when they potentially determine the location of your next four years of academic study if you’ve submitted a UCAS application.

You’ve read the prospectuses, you’ve been to the open days and you have managed to narrow it from thousands of courses and universities to just five measly options. Five options – one of which could be the path for the beginning of the rest of your life. Not that that’s scary or anything… Ahem.

But seriously, we feel your pain. Some of us at Source are seasoned students (I for one clearly can’t get enough of studying ‘cause I’m currently doing a torturous master’s after three gruelling years of an undergraduate degree) and understand the importance of choosing the right university for you. Jackie’s fantastic guide to Scottish Universities should have helped you narrow your choices down a wee bit, and some of you might even have been looking to fly the nest and head South, and due to the nature of UCAS you will have placed your five little choices in order of preference. Now it’s just a matter of waiting, as you and your mates start harping on about conditionals, unconditionals and – gulp – rejections.

At the risk of sounding slightly arrogant (and weirdly a bit like Perez Hilton); been there, done that honey.  So let us relax your minds with a list of what to do/what not to do when casually waiting for the university offers to come rolling in on the UCAS site…

First thing’s first: make a list of good points for all your choices

Realistically, all the unis you’ve picked are going to be fantastic, and wherever you end up, you will have the most amazing time. Create a list with as many good things about each university you’ve chosen as possible. These can include the course itself, the accommodation or alternatively the closeness, the area, the extracurricular activities. This way, should you perhaps not get your first choice you can look at your list and realise that it really isn’t the end of the world because university life really is what you make it. Alternatively, if you’re fortunate enough to get your first choice then you immediately have things to look forward to! Some of my best friends at university had ended up going to their second choice and had the best three years of their life. Everything happens for a reason, so wherever you end up, so long as you choose to live life to the full I can assure that you will have an absolutely life changing three years.

Familiarise yourself with the clearing process

Should you not get into any of your chosen five courses, or you don’t quite meet the conditions of offers once your exam results come in, you’ve got the option of applying through cleanring. After results day, and once eveyrone’s accepted their offers, those who didn’t quite make it can look through all the courses which still have spaces and apply for them instead. A massive team of extremely helpful people are there pushing to get you a place on a perfect course for you at a good university, and almost always succeed. Have a look on the UCAS website, Google it, read blogs and ask your teachers about clearing – the more you know about it, the less scary it becomes, trust me. Should you need to go through clearing, this way you’ll be up to speed, completely aware of the process and more than happy to place your future in the extremely capable hands of the UCAS clearing team. You might not have to go through clearing, but checking it out all the same is well worth doing.

Make a list of all the things you’ll need for university

Right, pipe down, I like lists okay?! But seriously… No matter what university you attend… HELLO!!!! You’re going to uni! What could possibly more exciting than that? Distract yourself by planning what you need. If you’re moving out, you’ll actually need knives and forks (they actually don’t just appear in drawers, amazing huh?) You’ll need BED COVERS, new pens, you have a whole world of things to figure out that you’d previously never thought about – this is relevant for whatever university you end up so why not get excited and start planning ahead?


Realistically there is absolutely nothing you can do now. You’ve sat your exams, you’ve submitted your application and the rest is in the hands of the UCAS gods – and maybe your remaining exams before the end of term. You should feel proud – filling in that application form without your head exploding is an enormous achievement in itself so enjoy your well-deserved time off (in between studying for the rest of your exams, obviously), and smile! It could always be worse. A very wise person once told me – it’ll all be alright in the end and if it’s not alright then it’s not the end. As cheesy as that is, it’s been my motto for a very long time. Things haven’t always gone my way, no, but look at me now – living the dream writing for Source magazine right?

Things not to do…

  • Lose hope – there is always, always another option
  • Get stressed, as I mentioned before – it’s done now… Sorry!
  • Get complacent – don’t go buying a new wardrobe brandished with your ideal uni’s logo just yet, it’ll feel much better wearing that hoodie when you know you’ve earned your place
  • Take that random job because you’re convinced no one will have you – don’t be so silly
  • Tell all your teachers what you really think as soon as school’s over, you never know when you might need a nice reference
  • Forget about the end goal – one of my friends messed up her Highers and didn’t get onto any course she applied for, went through clearing and is now, after a slight detour, in her third year studying to be a doctor. You can be absolutely whatever you want to be, though your path may differ from others, if you want something bad enough and try for it hard enough you will always end up where you need to be
  • Make a bragging Facebook status about where you’re going to uni before you’ve had an acceptance. This is: a) annoying b) annoying c) awkward if you don’t get in and d) Oh, yeah, annoying

And there you have it. Stick to this list and you’ll win the waiting game! University is an honour and an amazing experience, never underestimate it and look forward to it. Enough of the self-help, ‘preach it sister’ tone, I’m making myself feel a little queasy. Relax, enjoy, go out and have fun, or alternatively, if you’re the type to say it: YOLO.

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1 Comment

  • Pretty good tips 🙂 The wait for replies is horrible, particularly for medicine! I’ve just got to hang in there a wee bit longer