Applying for university is a whirlwind process. 

It’s one of the first important decisions you’ll ever make. So for four months it’s all you think about. You get back to college after a relaxing summer break and suddenly it’s all go!

Tutors are reminding you to start your application, friends are asking about your choices and parents are waking you up early on a weekend to take you to an open day.

You research your socks off and spend hours perfecting the dreaded personal statement, until finally it’s all done and dusted. You’ve made your decision, you’ve completed the application and your college has signed it off.

And then... nothing.

Waiting for the offers to trickle in can be a nerve-wracking experience but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s why:

Universities can take between 24 hours and 4 months to reply

There is no one-size-fits-all rule for this part of the application process. Some people receive offers within hours, while others have to wait much longer. It all depends on the university and the course. 

Bear in mind that every university receives thousands of applications each year, and their only priority is making the right decision, not a fast one. The admissions team take their time processing applications and careful consideration is given to each candidate.

This is a good thing. It means you can rely on the university to make an informed decision, based on your strengths and suitability to the course. 

There is a final deadline for offers, usually in the first week of May, although many people will hear by the end of March. 

Factors that may affect how quickly decisions are made include:

  • Application deadlines – some universities only begin to process applications after the January deadline.
  • Course popularity – a popular course like English Literature will receive more applications than a niche study area like Street Performance. 
  • The competition – highly competitive course are likely to receive an influx of outstanding applications. Narrowing down the candidates to only the most suitable will inevitably take time.

Additional application considerations such as interviews, workshops, auditions or assessments.  

No news is good news

Until you have received a firm ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it’s important to keep your cool. 

The universities you have applied to will respond eventually. But in the meantime you can rest assured that a long wait does not indicate an unsuccessful application.

In fact, as long as you hear nothing, the odds are in your favour because it means your application is being seriously considered. 

Be patient during this period, try to avoid obsessively checking the UCAS portal and your email account.

Instead, focus on your studies, so that when those offers do eventually roll in, you can be sure to meet their conditions of acceptance.

The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone.

Your friends and peers are going through the same thing, so make the most of the wait together, and be sure to celebrate when you finally get your answers!

Further information

For more tips and advice, please see:

N.B. This post was originally published in January 2017, but has been updated to reflect changes since then.

Got any questions about university offers or a related topic? Please pop your message below!