What to do When You Think You Have Applied to the Wrong Course

What to do When You Think You Have Applied to the Wrong Course

This is, as I understand it, a reasonably common problem in the world of university applications.  It can occur especially if you were confused or not 100% decided at the time of putting in your applications. It’s easy to feel like it’s the end of the world, that you’re wasting almost £28,000 and three years studying a course that you’re not really committed to, but – at least in my experience – it’s easily rectified, and there are several options and routes you can take to change course, some of which are listed below.


Email the University Admissions

This is your best option, if you realise that you don’t want to do your course early on. It doesn’t prevent you from trying other ways afterwards, but it still informs you of your options without you having to fully commit to the new course yet, if you don’t want to (of course, you must commit at some point, preferably sooner rather than later).

This is what I did, even though I didn’t have particularly high hopes for the outcome. I would recommend finding their phone number and phoning the admissions office to ask about opportunities to change course. If they say they have places available, it’s best to email the admissions office, as often they cannot give you a place over the phone, and it’s better to have an offer in writing besides.

When I applied to change course, I explained the situation and asked about places open, and I also attached a short personal statement pertaining to the course I wanted to change to (Law), in the style of a normal UCAS personal statement. I’m not sure that this was necessary, but it didn’t hurt my chances. If the university has places open, they may offer you one, and then they will change your offer on UCAS Track, and you can select that choice as your firm or insurance as you would with any other.


Use UCAS Extra

If you email the universities you’ve applied to and they’re unwilling to allow you to switch, or if you want to look at a different university than those you’ve already applied to, I would recommend that you make use of UCAS Extra. This is a service that allows you to apply for an extra place if you don’t hold any other places (meaning that, if you have been accepted onto courses, you will have to decline them, which is a risk — but not too much of one if it’s not a course you want to study). This can be any course and any university, so if you put the right research into it, you can have an extra chance studying the course you want to study.


Wait for Clearing/Adjustment on Results Day

This is what most of my friends did when they wanted to change course, and it worked for most of them. There are a lot of clearing places on results day — but there are also a lot of people looking for those places, so it’s best to be prompt, and to have researched what you want thoroughly before you get your results — with a range of entry requirements, so you’re prepared for any outcome.

If you get to the summer before university and you’re thinking that you’re not happy with your chosen course, this is a good idea, as they have tons of opportunities to change course and university. There’s even a clearing app, so you can monitor the places available at certain universities and for certain courses to ensure you’re as prepared as you can be.


Take a gap year

I have heard of gap years working wonders for people who take them. If you know the course you’ve chosen is wrong for you, but you’re unsure of the course you actually want to study, it may be the best opportunity to take a productive year out and really consider and research your options – depending on how you choose to spend your year, it could also boost your CV, too.


Transfer when you get there

Leaving it until the last minute is not the best choice, but I have read that it’s possible to change your course up until the third Monday from enrolment, though I’m not sure if this is universally applicable. You will not be able to join the new classes, however, until your request has been approved, so it’s best to have this done as soon as possible if you want to avoid being too behind in your new course.

I would also advise you to continue attending your original course lectures, even if you think it’s your intention to transfer to a different course, until your transfer is complete — you’re paying for them, firstly, and also if you do end up not changing, you’ll regret the classes you missed and may suffer academically as a result.


Things to remember

  • If you’re not yet at university, try to do something about the situation before you get there, because while it is possible to change course, it depends on the subscription level of the course and other variables that you can’t do anything about. It’s better to ask about it before you arrive, to see if it’s possible, so then you at least know your options, and you know whether you can go elsewhere.


  • You will need to get in touch with student finance, to change where your tuition is being paid, and it may affect your finance in terms of bursaries, etc. so it is best to have this sorted as soon as you can.


  • If you’re international, it could affect your visa, so you will have to get in touch with the relevant authorities and ensure you’re fully informed on your options before you change course.


  • If you’re unsure, discuss it with your tutors, friends, family, whoever you can talk to with good intentions. Most people will have something to say, some piece of advice, and will be able to support you through the change as well as advise you on your options. Listen to what people advise you to do and listen to their reasoning, because it can be helpful, especially if they have more life experience than you do, or if they’ve been in that position before. However, the choice is ultimately your own, so do with it what you will.


  • Don’t panic — there’s always something you can do, no matter what stage you are at in your applications.
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