- Time Flies... 
Time flies when you're studying hard. By now you have completed around 13 or 14 weeks at college and hopefully you have been both studying hard and having some fun.

Your college will probably close for the winter break around the 3rd week of December and resume classes around the first full week of January. Check with your tutor for exact dates. 

There will be plenty of coursework to hand in before the break and you may have internal assessments at this time, but you must also give some time and attention to finishing off your UCAS Application and Personal Statement

- Preparation for Higher Education (Prep for HE) 

Choose wisely: 
As stipulated in your SWAP Student Agreement, which you received at your SWAP induction, it is recommended that you apply to all five university partners if at all feasible. In any case, you should apply to a minimum of three different institutions within our partnership. You should also ensure that your options require a range of entry qualifications, if possible (in other words,  avoid choosing five courses that all ask for the same profile grades). 

You must email the SWAPWest office with an explanation if:
  • You plan to use fewer than 3 choices*
  • You plan to apply to only one university partner
  • You play to apply to a university outwith the SWAPWest Partnership
  • In your email to SWAP, you must provide:
    • Your college name, class name and guidance tutor name
    • A complete list of your UCAS choices (course codes, uni names and entry requirements) 
    • Your reasons for applying as above

* Exceptions to this rule are made for Access to Nursing students whose options are limited by the number of universities offering nursing courses. Your backup plan would be HNC/D in Care and Administrative Practice, Social Care or Health Care, or similar.

All other Access routes with limited university options (e.g. primary education, social work, optometry, etc.) should select a range of backup options from the available progression routes.

Speak to your class tutor or contact the SWAPWest office if you require assistance.

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Finish your Personal Statement and UCAS application, and submit it before the college's deadline (usually by 1st or 2nd week Dec)

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UCAS and Personal Statement

If you're planning to progress to university next year, you will be preparing to complete your UCAS application before your college closes for the winter break. (NB: The deadline is at the end of January, but your college tutors need time to review your application and personal statement and provide a reference for you.) 

Remember: Although it is possible to apply for courses after the deadline, universities are not required to consider late applications and any universities and/or courses that are in high demand are unlikely to consider any applications received after this date, so do not delay.

What happens to my UCAS Application after I send it off? 
After your UCAS Application is complete and you've paid the UCAS fee (around £27 in 2023-24), your named referee (usually your class tutor) will be notified so that they can supply a reference in support of your application.

Final checks will be made by the college and then the application will be forwarded to UCAS. Check with your class tutor for confirmation.

The universities on your list will each receive a copy of the application for consideration, and you will begin receiving responses in due course (usually by March/April).

A full explanation of this process can be found in the Prep for HE UCAS Application Guide (PHE10)
 and on the UCAS web site.


All done with your UCAS Application and caught up on your Prep for HE? Then...
- Relax 

At this time of year, it's sometimes difficult to find time to relax and unwind, but it is especially at this time of year that you need to do exactly that. The pressures of studying, working and making time for family and friends are never greater than during the holidays. And if money is tight, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. If you are struggling with money worries, talk to your college's Student Finance office as soon as possible to find out if there's help available.  

- Reflect 

In a way, the winter break can be a precarious time for students. With all of the festive activities, nights out and exchanging of gifts, money pressures can get on top of you. Doubts may creep in about your academic abilities. You may begin to think that you have made a mistake or you aren't coping well enough. Rest assured that these are completely normal (and very common) thoughts and feelings to have, especially when you have a little "down time" to think back on the whirlwind you've been in since August.

Take a deep breath and a clear look back at how much you have accomplished so far. (Now might be a good time to re-read your PHE reflections from the beginning of the year.)  

Before you make any changes, make a commitment to return to college in January and make an appointment to speak to your tutor or other college support staff about your concerns. For independent advice and guidance, contact the SWAPWest office on 0141 564 7206.
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