Thinking about Oxbridge or Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Sciences? Well then you must be ecstatic about the early UCAS deadline – a whole 3 months before the normal deadline. But before we get onto that – what is UCAS? If you don’t already know, UCAS abbreviates what is known as the University and Colleges Admissions Service which oversees applications to most UK-based higher education institutes.

As aspiring medics, we can certainly empathise, after days of endless toil and anxious nights throughout the summer, even the UCAT wasn’t enough (onto the BMAT!). Medical schools even set a quota ranging from 6–20 students for international candidates, a far cry from other courses. Hence, to have your dreams being dependent on both objective and subjective factors, in a single form, doesn’t sound too nice. Talk about rest…

And we get it. Being cramped up with Saturday tests and having to manage upcoming assessments is not easy at the least. Not to mention extracurricular commitments and things like the EPQ being hurled towards you. Your summer was probably filled with work experiences, doing exams and you quite literally want a break. The UCAS application is just one of the final hurdles before you get any offers. Having recently submitted our own applications, we’ll provide some of our insights to future applicants, teachers, and parents:

  • Stop it. Get some help.

If you feel lonely, rest assured that thousands are in the same position as you. Trust us, we’ve been through the process: feeling down in the dumps, questioning your ability and maybe shedding some tears. Call it clichéd, but think of the process as a marathon, you set the pace. Doing practice tests for 5 hours a day would’ve worked during the summer but not during school – you’ll inevitably feel tired. When you’ve hit your limit, don’t be scared to seek solace with your friends and call your family. If that’s not your cup of tea, Concord has supportive staff, boarding parents and assistants, and visits from Merulae Listeners – another avenue where you can be listened to and appreciated.

  • Stay (moderately) competitive.

It’s really anxiety-inducing when you see fellow classmates revising for tests when you realise you aren’t doing anything. Chances are that you’re probably worrying unnecessarily. Focus on your own plans. You’ll most likely do well regardless (speaking from experience), and don’t feel the need to constantly compare yourself to other applicants. Yes, following an example to strengthen your own application is healthy but being perturbed by others isn’t. Humans seek value in themselves through assigning themselves a position, relative to others. Controlling this inherent tendency will reduce stress – remember that Concord boasts itself as a highly academic school, so contextualise your progress – you don’t have to be number 1.

  • Prioritise.

Although you may be sacrificing some aspects of school, remember that ultimately, maximising the chance to get an offer remains as your main goal (we’d assume). You’ll fall, you’ll get hurt but you will make it. Setting targets and triaging is key to maintaining balance in your life. Always try to prioritise the most important goal, and break it down into smaller, more manageable, tasks – use a planner, and keep your eye on the prize. It’s in our human condition to stay fixated on the web of tasks we have to do, and what really is crucial is to take everything one at a time. Remind yourself of the reasons why you are educated and where you see yourself in the not so distant future.

On this note, know that you have come a long way and still have a long way to go. People will downplay your achievements, undermine your stress but that’s just human nature; they mean you no harm (hopefully).  Hearing adults say that being a student is just one segment of your life – that it’ll pass – can be irritating, but note this: we are all students of life. By striving to progress physically and mentally while wrestling with emotion, we collect experience. No one is wiser than the other, we are all scholars in our own right.

The UCAS may seem like an impasse, but trust us, you’ll make it.

Brandon and Shaz – 6.2