The final part of our FAQ on picking a university looks at the question of your insurance choice. With all the agonizing that goes into picking a university for your first choice, the insurance for many ends up being an afterthought. However, it’s worth thinking over this choice carefully, as in the event that your grades fall short you want to make sure that you’ll still be going to a place where you’re happy.

What things should I think about specifically when picking an insurance choice?

Essentially the factors that you put into choosing your top choice are the same ones you should apply to your insurance choice: the type of city, the type of campus, the quality of the course, the overall reputation of the university, and so forth.

The extra factors that come into play for the insurance choice when picking a university are the offer grades and whether or not you are holding a second offer that will measure up to your expectations. The insurance offer is called that for a reason: it’s there for you if something goes wrong and you don’t get the grades you thought you would. If your insurance choice is as competitive a university as your top choice and you’re applying for the same course, you’re not so likely to be insured against anything if you don’t make your grades. So unless you’re sure that you’re going to make your offer (say, for example, that you’ve been predicted AAB and your offer for your top choice is BBC), it’s worth picking an insurance choice that is more likely to take you.

The other thing to consider when picking a university to go in your insurance choice slot is whether or not it’s a course you truly want to do. It’s not unusual for people to have put down a course or two when applying that was just making up the numbers on the UCAS form. If you did this, and you find yourself having one offer that you truly want to take and the rest falling into this category of also-rans, it may be worth considering whether or not in the event of not meeting your conditional offer for your first choice you’d be better off waiting a year to go to university and applying for a new set of courses that you may prefer. Remember that you’re obliged to take your insurance choice if you meet the offer (assuming you didn’t meet your top-choice offer), and so you can’t just assume that you’ll be able to not take up the offer and go through clearing.

Should I pick an offer even if I’m not sure I’ll get it?

This is one of the most difficult questions of them all, and the answer to it depends entirely on your individual circumstances. It may be that you are a naturally pessimistic person, and this is clouding your judgement of your chances. It could be, however, that you have a point. If so, there’s nothing wrong with putting the offer as your top choice, so long as you also have an insurance offer that you’ll be able to meet and happy to take up should you need to. The people to speak to to help you solve this one are the people who know your academic potential the best, namely your teachers and/or parents.

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