University Application Process: Tips for Parents

Guides 22 May 2023 / 6 mins read

By Owen Redman

Parents… if you’re here, it’s because you have a child who’s getting ready to apply to university. You’re probably feeling a whole range of emotions about this: excitement, nervousness, or a mixture of the two! It’s likely that your child is also feeling similarly overwhelmed.

As a parent, you want to make sure that your child has the best possible chances of getting into university but you may not know where to begin. This comprehensive guide will show you how to best support your child as a parent throughout the university application process.

Have a conversation with your child

The first step to supporting your child throughout the university application process is to have a conversation with them and discuss their options together.

You and your child should firstly talk about their aspirations and goals for the future, to work out if going to university is definitely the right path for them. If your child is unsure about university, don’t panic! Going to university is a big decision, and it isn’t for everyone. There are other options such as doing an apprenticeship, getting a job, or taking a gap year.

If your child is sure that they want to go to university, it’s time to discuss what they want to study and which universities they would like to apply to. Here is an article to help you out!

Understand the UCAS application process

UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) is the organisation responsible for processing applications to universities in the UK. All applicants must submit their applications through UCAS, which are then sent on to the relevant universities. 

It’s important that you and your child understand the various UCAS deadlines and the different stages of the UCAS application process. 

For 2023 entry the application deadline for the majority of undergraduate courses has passed, but UCAS will still send applications sent by the 30th June to the chosen universities. Applications for 2024 undergraduate entry open on 16th May 2023. For more information on UCAS deadlines, check here.

Here are some of the different stages in the UCAS application process that you should know:

Writing a personal statement

The personal statement is a critical part of the UCAS application and provides universities with an insight into the applicant’s background and motivations for studying their chosen course. It is very important that your child takes the time to write a well-structured and thoughtful personal statement. 

Supporting your child as they write their personal statement will be a great help to them. The personal statement must showcase your child’s interest, skills, experiences and suitability for the course. If your child is willing, have a brainstorming session together to get their creative juices flowing!

This video is a good starting point.

Making university choices 

Your child will be able to select a maximum of five choices for universities and courses on their UCAS application, so ensuring that these choices have been made carefully is important. It is recommended that your child selects a mixture of universities, including some safety options with lower entry requirements. 

A good way to support your child in making their university choices would be to join them at university open days. These give prospective students a chance to visit universities and learn more about the degree courses on offer, which should hopefully allow your child to make a more informed decision.

Receiving and responding to offers 

Once your child has sent off their UCAS application, universities can either reject your child’s application or send an offer. Universities can take a while to respond, so don’t fret if your child doesn’t hear back immediately!

If your child does receive offers from their chosen universities, it’s important that they review them carefully and weigh up the pros and cons of each one. After reviewing their offers, your child can accept two: a firm (top choice) and an insurance (second choice, if they miss the entry requirements for their firm). This could be a tough decision, so your child will definitely appreciate your support.

Encourage your child to be organised

Organisation is vital when it comes to applying for university. There are so many important dates to stay on top of and various documents to keep track of.

To aid your child’s organisation, it could be helpful to sit down together and create a timeline of important dates and deadlines. You could also encourage your child to keep all their documents and pieces of information in one location for easy access.

Prepare for all outcomes on results day

Hopefully results day will go the way that your child wants it to, but it’s important to have a plan in case they don’t get into their first choice university. 

Become acquainted with the clearing process in the event that your child does not attain the grades for their firm or insurance choice. Also encourage them to keep their options open and consider alternative paths such as a gap year or an apprenticeship.

Help your child to get ready for university life

Once your child has accepted an offer for a place at university, it’s essential that they start preparing both practically and mentally for university life. As a parent, you could support your child with this by having a discussion with them about things such as finances, living arrangements and any worries that they might have.

One thing that you can do to help prepare your child for university life is to sit down with them and create a budget together. This student finance calculator can help you to work out the size of the student loan that your child will be entitled to. If you are planning on supporting your child financially whilst they are at university, you should have an honest discussion about this. Here is a useful resource by UCAS to get your child thinking about saving money at university. If you or your child has concerns about finances, consider if there are any scholarships, grants or bursaries that your child might be eligible for.

Be there for your child emotionally

The process of applying to university can be very daunting, and your child might be putting a lot of pressure on themselves. Supporting your child emotionally as they go through this is really important. Remember to offer your support and check in with your child regularly. Celebrate their successes and help them to push through any challenges or setbacks that they may face.

Thank you for reading our guide for parents on supporting your child through applying for university. We hope that it gives you some useful tips on how to be effective in helping your child during UCAS application.

Be sure to check out the Roome website, where we post loads of tips and tricks for university students every single week. Follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook to learn more about how we’re revolutionising the student housing market!

Posted by Owen Redman

Co-founder of Roome

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