Now that all your offers from UK colleges have come in, it’s time to decide which college you would like to attend for your undergraduate degree. Unfortunately, you cannot accept all your offers. You will need to choose only two: a firm choice and an insurance choice. But what do these terms mean and how are you to decide?
Read on to find out how to make an informed decision about firm and insurance choices in the UK.
What do firm and insurance mean?
Think of your firm option as your first choice. This is the course you would pick over all others and where you would want to spend the next three years. This is your dream college. Your insurance option, on the other hand, is your backup. The college you would want to attend in case you don’t meet the conditions of your firm choice.
Usually, conditional offers from your firm choice are higher than your insurance. If you accept and meet the conditions of your firm choice, your place is guaranteed and you are obligated to attend. Typically, the insurance offer is also conditional and, if you do not meet the conditions for your firm choice, you must fulfil your insurance conditions for your place to be confirmed.
How do I choose my firm and insurance choice?
When deciding your firm choice, you will need to balance your desire to pursue a specific college course against your estimate of whether you can meet the conditions attached to it. For example, if your highest conditional offer is 36 points in the IB, with a 6 in all three of your Higher Level (HL) subjects, but you expect to get 38 IB points with 6, 7, 7 in your HL subjects, then you can choose this as your firm. If, however, you think you will get 35 points total, or even 36, but a 6, 5, 5 in your HL subjects, then it would be wise not to choose this offer as your firm, but rather choose the offer that best matches your prediction. This is also why your insurance offer should be lower than your firm.
Do not select firm and insurance choices that have the same conditions, otherwise, you could end up making neither. The objective is to maximise your chances of attending at least one of your final two choices. Being realistic is key. Also, note this technicality: if you achieve the conditions of both your firm and insurance offers you must accept the firm choice, even if you had a change of heart in the interim and feel the insurance is now your first choice. You’ve committed to the firm choice so you must attend that college.
Apart from your ability to meet the conditions, it is equally important to revisit your course and college options. Go through and compare the courses for content, structure and modules offered. Which will you be happiest studying for the next three years, course A, B or C? Answering this question will point you to your firm choice. But make sure that your insurance is also a course you are happy with. Some other factors to consider are the location of the colleges, the extracurricular societies and activities you can get involved in and the Students’ Union. While these are not decisive, they may help you choose your firm between two equally enticing courses.
How do I declare my choice?
Upon receiving decisions from all the colleges to which you applied, the UCAS Track will give you a deadline by which to choose your firm and insurance. Entering these choices in Track will cause all the other offers to be rejected automatically and disappear. This cannot be reversed, so be certain about your firm and insurance before selecting them.
Do I have to select both firm and insurance at the same time?
Yes, you have to decide on your firm and insurance choice simultaneously. If you have received all of your decisions on or before May 2, then you have until the deadline, June 6, to make your choice.
What happens if I don’t meet the condition for either of my choices?
If you miss the criteria for both your firm and insurance choices, don’t worry. You can still apply through Clearing. Once all students have achieved and accepted their offers, some colleges still have spaces left for fresh applicants.
Replying to offers requires careful consideration, so take your time and decide. However, ensure you do not wait until the last minute as this can lead to errors. Before you leave for college, make sure to read our post about how to socialise as an international student here. If you have any more questions or need more help choosing your colleges, get in touch with us.