By Alex Hayman, Managing Director of Public Markets, Which?

ALMOST 137,000 young people throughout Scotland have found out about their Highers and Advanced Highers results. The day will have been a rollercoaster of emotion for many, with some needing to reconsider the next step after achieving higher or lower than expected grades.

After receiving their Higher results yesterday, young people may be able to apply to university. We suggest a mixture of solid options with entry grades that reflect results, with one or two stretch targets intended achievements in sixth year that could help secure a place.

Scottish universities don’t tend to ask for Advanced Highers; usually Highers are sufficient. The exception is where applications are for a a particularly competitive course, such as medicine or law. If young people are thinking of applying to universities elsewhere in the UK, Advanced Highers may be required.

Which? has a Highers grade filter to find relevant university degrees candidates meet (or exceed) the entry requirements for.

But it’s not all about grades. Candidates will probably need to meet the entry requirements to be successful in their application but it’s vital that the rest of the application is given careful consideration.

The personal statement should show that applicants are enthusiastic about the course they apply for. They need to show they have the skills, qualities and experiences the faculty is looking for in a student. It varies from university to university but some university websites offer specific information on the types of skills they are interested in.

Applicants should not panic if they didn’t secure the results they wanted. Whether they’re in sixth year and hoping to go to university next month, or in fifth year and applying this year, they have options.

Some universities will accept a Highers grade that’s been retaken in sixth year, although it is worth contacting the university directly to confirm that this is the case. Applicants should think carefully about their workload if planning to retake Highers alongside any Advanced Highers or additional Highers as they could be in for an intensive year.

If applicants are in sixth year and didn’t achieve the retaken Highers grades or Advanced Highers grades needed for a particular university course, they can try Ucas clearing.

For university applicants in Scotland, this mainly exists for those in sixth year who don’t have the necessary results in either their Highers retakes or specific Advanced Highers for a particular (usually competitive) course.

Clearing could be a good option. This year, we’ve already spotted a few clearing vacancies for Scottish students being advertised on Ucas. These include Aberdeen, Abertay, Dundee, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Heriot-Watt, Highlands and Islands, Queen Margaret, Robert Gordon, SAE Institute (Creative Media Education), SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College), Stirling, Strathclyde and West of Scotland universities.

If young people are keen to move away from home, the city lights of Edinburgh or Glasgow might be calling.

Expect lower accommodation and living costs in Glasgow, with popular student areas in Dennistoun, Kelvinbridge and Finnieston. Rents are higher in the capital, although students we polled felt their accommodation offered good value for money in Edinburgh.

For more information about applying to university, including comprehensive guides to universities, courses, cities, and student finance, visit Which? University.