Unconditional offers are a nation-wide epidemic

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By Sabrina Miller, First Year English

People need to have more faith in students and stop encouraging them to take unconditional university offers.

In 2018 one third of A-level applicants received a ‘coveted’ unconditional.

They used to be a unique privilege for a talented few, but it is now a cruel marketing ploy which terrifies students through the door.

They disincentivise students from achieving their full potential at A-level and scare them into accepting offers they do not want.

Some contend that this is important because it takes the pressure off. This may be true, but it also means that some students have little or no motivation to work hard for their exams.

Universities offering unconditionals prey on terrified students fearing failure.

I cannot count the number of times I would ask a friend how revision was going and they would say 'I don’t really care what I get, I have an unconditional”.

There is a direct correlation between students who missed their predicted grades, and students who were offered unconditionals. But, A-levels are important. Employers do look at your A-levels before hiring. In such a competitive job market a C or D in economics A-level could make the difference between being employed or not, even if you have achieved a 2:1 at a Russell Group university.

Students are pressured by both their schools and their parents to accept unconditional offers. Universities offering unconditionals prey on terrified students fearing failure. They encourage schools and parents to lose faith in their students and in their children.

This fear is also projected onto those brave few who stray from the trodden path. When I chose to reject my unconditional offer from Birmingham and accept my place at Bristol, I was met with shock, surprise and scepticism. On the eve before results day my parents jokingly warned me that if I missed my offer and didn’t get into university, it 'serves me right' and 'I should’ve accepted my unconditional'.

My school constantly advised me to accept my unconditional in order to take some of the pressure off. My peers called me 'ridiculous' and said that if they had an unconditional they would 'take it in a heartbeat'.

Without a doubt at my school this atmosphere of fear impacted students. I am the only student from my school to go to Bristol and a large part of that is people being too scared to reject an unconditional.

Students need those around them to have more faith in them. We can only achieve this by ridding ourselves of unconditionals.

Featured image: Epigram/Ffion Clarke

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