How to: Choose your firm and insurance choices.

This is perhaps the trickiest part. You have had offers from universities and you have had all of your decisions back. If you have one offer, 2 offers, 3, 4 or all 5, well done! You’ve been offered a place, conditional (depending on grades and other entry requirements i.e. Disclosure and Barring/Health check) or unconditional (you’ve met all of the entry requirements!) or you’ve been unsuccessful. Now you get to pick your firm and insurance choices.

I’ll explain what your offers mean and what a firm and insurance choice is:

Firm = First choice university. The one you will go to if you meet all of the requirements, or the one you are definitely going to because you have an unconditional offer from them.

Insurance = Second choice university. The one you will go to if you don’t meet all of the requirements for your firm choice. If you meet the requirements for this choice, you will go here. If you don’t meet the requirements then you can go through Clearing.

Conditional offer = You have to meet certain conditions – grades, health check, CRB check to be accepted into the university.

Unconditional offer = You have met all of the conditions set by the university, meaning if you accept this offer then you are in!

Note: You can’t have an insurance choice if you choose an unconditional place as your firm choice. But you can put an unconditional offer as your insurance choice, so if you don’t get into your firm then you know you are definitely going to your second choice!

If you have only one offer then you can either pick this as your firm choice, decline the offer and go through Extra (see UCAS for more details) or if you are unsuccessful on results day go through Clearing.

How do you pick your firm and insurance choice universities? I would really recommend doing a pros and cons list of all of the universities, look at location, course content, course structure, how you felt at the open day/interview, how you are taught, everything I mentioned in the Choosing Universities and Choosing Social Work course blog posts! This can help you to see which university is best for you. I think picking your firm is easier than picking your insurance. If you don’t get into your firm, your insurance choice has to be a university that you won’t mind going to. I chose Sunderland as my firm (see my blog post on why I chose Sunderland) and Northumbria University as my insurance. This was a lot more difficult than picking my firm. For my insurance choices I had to pick between Northumbria, Leeds and York (I withdrew from Teesside). Now, on paper Northumbria was the second best, with Leeds following in third, York being the last, so York was out of the question. I now had to choose between Leeds and Northumbria, two different universities. In the end it came down to location. You really need to think about all aspects of a university not just the course. I can’t stress this enough!

I’d also recommend visiting the places again, if possible maybe for another open day or some universities and colleges offer a post-applicant open day, meaning people who have offers for the programme have a day tailored for them. I did this at Sunderland and Northumbria and really enjoyed them both! It offers you a chance to meet people who may be on your course too. You get to talk to current students and staff and may get to experience being in a lecture or seminar! Some universities offer you another chance to look around accommodation and talk to student finance.

You could talk to friends, family and teachers about your choices so they can give you some advice or you could contact admissions departments at the universities to ask for more information if you have any questions! Some university websites have a “Why should you study at…” section, which could prove beneficial!

All in all it is a difficult decision and one that should not be taken with haste. Take your time and think, as you will be spending 2, 3 or 4 years of your life at one of the two universities you choose.

After you have picked your firm and insurance choices, all of your other offers are declined. Now all you need to worry about is student finance, getting the grades or starting university!

Good luck in choosing your firm and insurance choices!


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