Education: Your Choice: Offers: when to accept and what to reject

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The Independent Online
Four sixth-formers (three of whom we spoke to in October) tell how their UCAS applications have prospered.

Juliet Salmon: Psychology. Applied to Sussex, Leicester, Reading, Greenwich, City, Portsmouth, Staffordshire, Warwick.

By January I had had offers from everywhere but Sussex. Mainly, the offers matched up with what I had expected from prospectuses, and ranged from three Bs at Leicester to 14 points at Greenwich. I was surprised by the high grades from Leicester, but I wasn't bothered because I had decided I didn't want to go there. I was upset when Sussex rejected me because it had been my first choice, but the grades would have been too high.

I have accepted Reading, who want BBC, as my first choice. When I visited there I loved it. It had the nicest atmosphere, it's a very pretty campus, and everyone looked happy.

Portsmouth is my insurance; it wants CCC. It's high for an insurance, but it was the only thing left that I liked. I do feel that I could be perfectly happy at either of my choices.

If I had it to do again, I wouldn't apply to anywhere in London. It's very important to visit places, but it means so much time off school. All my open days were on Wednesdays, which was so difficult. With six visits, I missed half my teaching in one subject.

Chris Carter: Management Science. Applied to Warwick, Hull, Bradford, LSE, Leeds Metropolitan, Nottingham Trent.

I had the majority of my decisions by Christmas. LSE sent a rejection, but I had offers from all the others. Leeds Metropolitan withdrew the course, so I subsequently applied to Cardiff. Warwick at BBC and Nottingham Trent at DDC were lower than I expected. All the others were BBC.

Nottingham Trent is my first choice. It's not just an easy option, though it may sound like it. At their open day, I found out a lot more about the course, which really appealed. It offers six months in business and a year in France, half in industry and half in a French university. I really liked Warwick, which I put down as an insurance, but the course doesn't offer quite as much.

I think I made the right choice, but I would like to have seen more universities. Visiting is definitely important, but you mustn't let what you see go to your head.

People have put pressure on me, saying that my choice isn't as good as a traditional university, but I've convinced them that the course is as good as I can get.

Amanda Smith: Architecture. Applied to Edinburgh, Nottingham, Sheffield, UCL, Bath and Cardiff.

My first offer was from Bath. I had had an interview there, my only one, and had really liked it. I planned on it being one of my choices.

The offers came in quite quickly. By Christmas I had offers from all except UCL and Sheffield. UCL invited me for an interview, but I wrote back to say I couldn't make that day, then got a rejection. But I wasn't bothered, so didn't pursue it.

All the offers were as in the prospectuses, except Edinburgh which asked for ABB rather than BBB. All the others were three Bs except for Cardiff's BBC.

My first thought had been to accept Bath and Nottingham, which had been my first choices from the beginning. I was interested in Edinburgh but thought the grades might be too high. I went to their open day hoping I wouldn't really like it - but I did. I was really impressed - and really confused again.

I decided on Edinburgh with Nottingham as insurance. It's a bit risky because there's only one grade between them, but I'd rather risk it all than go where I I wouldn't be happy. I took a lot of care over it and am really keen on both my choices. I'll let my grades decide.

Matthew Holdcroft: Law. Applied to Oxford, Newcastle, Exeter, Nottingham, Lancaster, Warwick, Durham, Plymouth.

I had rejections from Lancaster and Warwick before I heard from Oxford. My first offer of ABB was from Newcastle.

My Oxford interview was surprising in that it was not the legend everyone tells you about. It was like walking into someone's front room and talking about anything to do with law. The first question knocked me a bit, but they then tried to build my confidence to hear what I had to say. Three days before Christmas I had an offer of AAB.

I had offers of ABB from Exeter, AAB from Nottingham and BCC from Plymouth for law with psychology. I only heard from Durham six weeks ago - a rejection.

I waited until Durham made a decision and then replied to UCAS. I've accepted Oxford with an insurance offer of Newcastle. I'm happier to risk it all to possibly go to Newcastle than to go to Plymouth to do a course I'm not as happy with.

In retrospect I think I should have gone for a bigger spread of offers. I haven't left much room for any mistake.