‘However organised you are, there will always be at least one student who submits their application to you for the very first time out of the blue on 15 January. Prepare for this. It will happen.
'Having led on the UCAS application process for over 12 years, in many different settings – from a huge sixth form college, to an academically selective girls' school – I have long feared the 15 January deadline. Over the years, I have experienced many lessons learnt, so hopefully you don't have to. Here are my survival tips…’
TIP – Make sure you have a reference ready for any student who may decide to make an application at the last minute
Ask subject teachers and tutors to complete a reference for EVERY student eligible to apply through UCAS, and save these somewhere easily accessible. Even if it is a very basic one, you will have it to hand when that last minute application comes in. As the UCAS coordinator, you will be much quicker at adapting this and getting it onto the system than any other member of staff. If they don't decide to apply this year in the end, at least you have it ready for the next cycle, just in case!
TIP – Save copies of all your references and keep them to hand
Every year, a student pops up who left one or two years previously, asking for a reference – having these stored somewhere is a life saver.
TIP – Bombard students and their families with messages about the deadline
Make it very clear that you will not be processing UCAS applications over the Christmas break. I am sure you will have publicised internal deadlines already – they need to know this is the REAL and very final deadline.
TIP – Set aside some time on 15 January
If you have a full teaching schedule, or know that you will be out of school, make sure there is someone else who will be able to check emails and UCAS. Frustrated as I may be by late applicants, I always try to support every student who wants to make an application – remember, many students will not have had any support at home at all, and could have found the whole process terrifying.
TIP – Regularly check updates in the adviser portal
I always go back through all applications and their status, just to make sure I haven't forgotten someone along the way.
TIP – Send a list of students who could have been eligible to apply through UCAS, but have not applied, to all students and tutors
This way, if they have simply been procrastinating, someone will remind them they need to do something, and soon.
TIP – Don’t forget, although 15 January is the deadline for the majority of courses, there are still other options
If all else fails, remind students that even if they have missed the deadline, there may be spaces available on their chosen courses, which they can apply for later on.
Head of Sixth Form
Stratford Girls' Grammar School