It was over 35 years ago that I was going through my list of preferred educational institutions to try to make sure that, of the 5 selected, some of them would actually give me an offer which I was likely to achieve and hopefully one or two of the more august institutions on the list would make me any offer at all even if it was at grades that were likely to be something of a stretch for my academic abilities.
The received wisdom was that you put the institution that you most wanted to go to (and who were likely to give you an attainable offer) at the top of your UCCA list along perhaps with another university which might make a “Stretch” target offer in case you out-performed your predictions plus a few colleges who were likely to offer lower grades as an insurance against exam disaster.
It was quite a balancing act and I seem to recall that I had Nottingham and LSE as joint top with Warwick, Hull and Keele in joint third place - even as a teenager with very little understanding of the world I seem to have lent towards hedging my bets.
Slightly bizarrely I seem to recall applying for slightly different courses depending on the institution involving a combination of History and Politics (and in the case of I think Nottingham and LSE only Politics).
In the event, only LSE decided to forgo the opportunity to have me as a student (their loss obviously) but I ended up in any event in changing my course after the A level results had been published to Law and Politics which is how I ended up in Nottingham for the next 4 years (and the rest as they say is history).
A. is going through the same process at the moment, and whilst the subject is very different (he is set on doing Computer Science which is very different from his Mother and Fathers skill set), the balancing act of finding an institution and course you like and ensuring you get an attainable offer remains very much the same as it did 35 years ago.
The playing field has however been affected by Covid - many students will be in the same boat as he is with a big chunk of their last academic year being taught on-line, and many students due to start college this academic year apparently deferring entry until next year (ie when A is due to start) so not sure how many places are actually likely to be available.
At the moment his Mother and Father’s alma mater is among his favourites along with Exeter, Royal Holloway and UEA but I suspect there will be further anxious thought over the next few days before a final selection is made.