Life / Sixth Form / university

My UCAS Story

I thought it was about time I did a post talking about my UCAS experience, not just because I get asked about my application a lot by prospective students and younger students at my old school, but also because I think people will generally find it interesting.

ucas-story

Believe it or not but I actually applied for a different course at every single university I applied for. No, really.

Deciding my subject

The summer between Year 12 and Year 13 had a huge impact on my life and is actually the sole reason why I’m currently studying Classics at university right now.

For a bit of background: I was studying Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Classical Civilisation AS levels and I had just started an EPQ.

I went on three different summer schools:

  • Eton College Universities Summer School – Physics & Chemistry
  • Oxford’s UNIQ Summer School – Classics
  • Sutton Trust Summer School. – Chemistry

I absolutely loved each and every one of the summer schools and I am actually still very close with a bunch of people I met on them (and this was over two years ago!) After spending an incredible eleven days at Eton studying the subjects I was convinced I would be applying for (if I were to apply to Oxbridge at that stage, Cambridge’s NatSci course was seriously being considered), I didn’t know what to expect from the next two summer schools.

But that’s when things all changed and I did a massive 180.

I was only at Oxford for six days and studying Classics just because I enjoyed it (and also really wanted to do a bit more Latin) but it completely changed my perspective on things. I realised that I had slightly more of an interest in the course content for Classics at the summer school than the topics we covered in Physics and Chemistry whilst at Eton. It was bizarre and I remember calling my Mum and telling her how shocked I was that I was having these feelings.

Applying to university

At the time of applying I really couldn’t settle on just one subject – and the fabulous thing I discovered is that you don’t have to! The Oxford UNIQ Summer School really brought to light how much of an interest I had in Classics and just how much I enjoyed it. I had always planned on applying for Physics and Chemistry (or Chemical Physics/Physical Chemistry) with a year abroad but that summer changed everything. I had been looking at and considering more flexible degrees where I could do several subjects and the summer school only confirmed these thoughts.

A lot of people don’t realise that there are so many American-style Liberal Arts degree options out there in the UK, meaning that you get to study a range of subjects before specialising.

It takes a bit of searching around online to find these courses but the UCAS website is a great help (you can type in specific words like “combined honours” and “liberal arts” and lots of universities will come up).

Universities I applied to

Don’t believe me? Here’s the list…

  1. University of Birmingham – Liberal Arts (intending on double majoring in Classics and Chemistry and minoring in Mandarin with modules in French, Psychology and Physics), 4 years with Year Abroad
  2. University of Exeter – Flexible Combined Honours with Year Abroad (intending on double majoring in Classics and Chemistry with a minor in Mandarin), 4 years with Year Abroad
  3. Newcastle University – Combined Honours (Classics with French OR Mandarin), 4 Years with Year Abroad
  4. University of Edinburgh – Classical Studies (with extra modules in Chemistry, French and Mandarin)
  5. University of Oxford – Classics (Literae Humaniores)

Side note: I chose to apply to Oxford knowing that I’d only be studying one subject because Classics is incredibly broad. I have the opportunity to study literature, history, philosophy and language (and some politics too) which means my need for studying several subjects is satisfied. The only downside to this is that science isn’t included (and I really love science!) and also I had to give up the chance of having a year abroad if I applied. Although there were downsides to applying, I just thought ‘why not?’ and I was quite intrigued at the whole interview process and the experience of applying itself. I didn’t think I’d get in at all and I didn’t really mind whether I did or not (though obviously receiving an offer would have been nice).

My Personal Statement

Again, believe it or not but my Personal Statement was exactly the same for all of my applications. Yes, I sent off a Personal Statement which talked about why I love Classics, Chemistry, Physics and Mandarin to all of the universities (and this includes Oxford!) It can be done so don’t be put off by this (as strange as this might sound).


Obviously I am here at Oxford currently studying Classics (which does seem strange to a lot of people who know me in person and also strange to people I’ve met here once they hear of my A level background) but I just thought I’d do a post on my unusual and strange UCAS experience – you never know, someone may find this interesting/useful/helpful?! Plus you get to know a bit more about me 😉

If you have any questions or want to know more about anything then comment below or email me 🙂

If you’re not following my uni adventures so far…

Instagram📷 & Twitter🐥 – @violahelen_
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Peace and love,
Viola xo

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4 thoughts on “My UCAS Story

  1. this was so interesting, useful AND helpful to read! I might be a hypocrite by asking this question because I dread it so much but what do you want to do in life? haha, sorry what I mean is what do you hope to do after uni, what career path do you wish to follow? sorry if this isn’t something you want to answer, I completely understand 🙂

    • I’m so sorry, I’ve only just seen this comment! I genuinely have no idea what I want to do in life – I could end up becoming an academic or doing another degree (maybe in science?) or becoming a linguist or travelling for a bit before settling on a job… I honestly have no idea but this blog is here to document my life and to see where I end up! 🙂

  2. I know this is late, but after watching the video you were in on Oxvlog, I couldn’t help reading more about your uni application experience as it strikes me as being similar to my own 😅

    In Year 12 I did humanities-based subjects (including Classical Civ) and planned on applying for Classics, but over summer decided that I wanted to study Physics at university instead, and so resat the year with science/maths subjects, and now I’m in Year 13 taking a combination of these courses. I’m still not sure which degree I want to study, as I’ve applied for different courses at my universities (writing the same personal statement for all of them – and offers from all, so it can be done! A lot of people advised against this for me haha) but for the life of me I can’t choose between Classics and the Sciences. It’s such a tough call and people always seem confused as they are such different subjects. I’m just wondering, if you’re cool sharing, what the decisive moment was that made you choose one over the other? I’m assuming it’s personal preference, but there’s so many factors to consider in this choice, and an extra viewpoint would be much appreciated!

    I’ve also been thinking about taking a gap year for a while, and your blog posts and videos have made me consider it much more seriously, but I’d be really scared of being 2 years older than most of the other people in freshers.
    Long story short, your blog posts have been really helpful and I’m glad I’m not the only one who has faced this dilemma. Ciao ✌🏻

    • Hey, thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my blog post after watching my video! So I’m not sure if you applied for a combination of both Classics and Science as a joint degree at each university (as I did), or just straight Classics at some and straight Science at others. I chose Classics over Science simply by choosing Oxford (since, at every other university I could do both) and ultimately I chose Classics because I only realised when I got to the interview stage at Oxford that I really did enjoy Classics and I realised that I wanted to study it at a higher level. I also knew that Oxford’s Classics degree is very language-heavy (which is what I liked), but also that Oxford has the biggest Classics department in the world and, if I was going to choose Classics, I would be stupid not to choose Oxford. I’m not sure if this particularly helps you because had I chosen any other university then obviously I would’ve been able to do all subjects. Don’t be worried about being 2 years older – there are some more mature students here at my uni and a surprising number actually took gap years too (and I’m sure this is the case at every university) so it probably won’t be a 2 year difference with everyone. Also, I think you’ll make friends regardless of age – and a lot of my friends are in second year and even third so it is possible and things to fall into place! Thank you so much for your lovely and kind feedback – I would definitely recommend taking a gap year! X

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