UCAS Application – Case Study

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Helen Allcutt, a student from Dublin, is currently in her second year studying for her MSc in Pharmacy at Manchester University. Helen applied to universities in the UK through the UCAS system and found the information provided by UCAS very helpful throughout the process. She says: ‘I applied online which helped a lot and I was lucky because my school had some understanding of what is involved in the UCAS application’. However, she adds that her school ‘didn’t know all the procedures involved and I was fortunate to have family friends in the UK familiar with the process who were able to help me’.

She stresses the importance of knowing about these procedures well in advance of applying to universities through UCAS since the UCAS application form requires a personal statement asking you to write a little bit about yourself and your suitability to the course you are applying to do. Having a lot of relevant information to include in this space can be vital to your success. It is also important to know which subjects at Leaving Cert are required for you to be able to do the course otherwise you might not be able to apply for the course you wish to study. Helen explains: ‘Just knowing to get plenty of experience in time to put it on your UCAS forms and knowing to choose the right Leaving Cert subjects for the course you want to undertake is really important’.

Having gone through the CAO system as well, Helen feels that the UCAS system was less stressful because she had her university offers before she sat her Leaving Cert exams and was confident that she would be able to meet the grades required. In some ways then, the pressure was off and she was able to concentrate on her exams without worrying how many points she would need to get onto a course of her choice in Ireland. Helen explains: ‘with the UCAS system there is more chance of them taking into account a lesser grade in a subject not specifically relevant for the course you are applying to study and so forth’.

Before being offered a conditional offer at Manchester University Helen was called to an interview. She says: ‘though an interview can be daunting, it is very important that the people deciding whether to offer you a place on their course or not get to meet and speak with you. It is definitely a fairer way of doing it as you are not accepted or rejected based wholly on your grades’. The interview enables the course providers to see where your potential lies and how you think for yourself. ‘If they really want you’, Helen adds, ‘they can lower the offer which they give to you’.

Helen definitely has no regrets about her choice to study Pharmacy at Manchester University. As she says: ‘I’m really happy here and glad I’ve left home, rather than staying at home studying in Dublin’. For her the UCAS application process has certainly been a worthwhile experience and one that has mapped the course of her future.


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