Congratulations! After countless sleepless nights and several anxiety-filled months, you’ve finally received decisions from your UK unis (yes they shorten university to uni here, cute, huh?). I’m sure you’ve already started mentally packing for your big move but wait, we’re not quite there yet!

Your uni acceptance will come in the form of a conditional offer. Here are two examples of conditional offers I’ve received:

  1. GPA of 3 or above out of 4 in High School Leaving Certificate with average of 27 or above in American College Testing Program (ACTs).
  2. GPA of 3.5 or above out of 4 in High School Leaving Certificate with at least a C+ in English. AP Literature test score of a 5 and AP Microeconomics score of at least a 4.

Now it’s time to make some decisions. From all of your offers, you must choose two schools. One school will be your firm choice (1st choice) and the other will be your insurance choice (2nd choice). Make sure your firm choice uni has attainable conditions because if you fail to meet these conditions you will have to attend your insurance choice uni and you will lose quite a bit of time in the process. That’s precious time you could be using to obtain your student visa. And make sure your insurance choice has even more lenient conditions because if you can’t meet their conditions either, you will have to enter clearing or take a gap year and that’s a whole world of mess you don’t need as a high school senior. One more thing, after you’ve made this decision on UCAS, it can’t be undone. Want to switch your insurance choice to become your firm choice because you realized you are definitely not going to meet the conditions of your original firm choice uni? Don’t count on it because this is nearly impossible. You will have to negotiate with UCAS plus both of the universities and convince all 3 parties to reverse their decisions and let me tell you, they are very stubborn.

After you have chosen your top two schools, it is up to you to provide proof of meeting each university’s conditions. You will have to upload documents through each of the university’s student portals (don’t worry, they’ll set up an account for you). I ended up uploading a scanned copy of my diploma and my last high school transcript to both uni #1 and #2. I also sent uni #1 a copy of my best ACT score which was from sophomore year and asked College Board to send my two AP scores to uni #2.

Once you have met all the conditions for either your firm or insurance choice, the university will contact you to help you obtain your CAS.

What’s a CAS?

CAS stands for Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies and you will not be able to apply for a student visa until you have one.

Your uni will contact you via email or student portal, asking you to confirm some personal information for your CAS. Make sure your name, contact information, uni tuition fee, etc. is correct on the rough draft of your CAS and simply let them know if there are any errors. After you confirm that the CAS is all good to go, they will contact you again with your official CAS document that comes with a unique student number.

And there you have it! You’re ready for the final step: obtaining your Tier 4 UK student visa.

NOW you may start mentally packing for your big move but don’t bring out that big suitcase just yet!