So, readers, it’s time to apply to university (I know this is late for vet / med / dentistry / Oxbridge applicants). If you’re anything like me, you’re already stressed out about it and you just want to get it all over with so you can focus on other things. I’m already fairly well on with my UCAS application, and being in the fortunate position that I’ve applied to university once before, I know what the application process entails and how annoyingly boring and difficult it can be. So, here are my top tips for applying to university – specifically, through UCAS.
1. Personal information and qualifications
This is probably by far the most boring part of the application process. Typing in and filling out all the information that UCAS needs on your application before it can be sent off – get it done quick and it’ll be out of the way. Make sure you put all of your qualifications in accurately, under the correct exam board and with the correct dates on it. If you’re waiting on results from a particular subject (which, if you’re applying through school whilst you’re doing A Levels, you will) then fill them out as “Pending”. Double check everything before you send it off, and make sure that you write down your personal ID and username, just in case you forget them, or need them later on. Also, make sure your password isn’t something you’ll forget. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people I know locked themselves out of Track come results day.
Do your research when you’re thinking about which university you’re going to. Go visit places, read the course guidelines thoroughly, talk to people in older year groups who have already gone to that place. It’s always worth talking to students, and doing the odd visit, if you can, around open days so you get a more realistic view of student life. You have five options on your UCAS form, you can fill out fewer if you want to, and add more later, or change some of your five after it’s been submitted. There might be a charge for that, but I’m not totally sure, so it’s worth checking.
3. Personal Statement
By far the most difficult part. I have handed in endless, tearstained drafts of personal statements when applying, I’ve written many completely different ones, and I actually submitted a statement that was essentially, a first draft. Don’t submit a first draft. Have it nice and polished. Be confident; it’s your time to really blow your own trumpet and tell the admissions teams how amazing you are.
Your personal statement should be about you, and the subject you’re applying for, and your passion for that subject. What’s your favourite book? Have you done further reading around the subject? If not, then do. Show them that you are interested. You need to demonstrate in your writing why you want to study the course you’re applying for, why going to university at all is something you want to do, and your ambitions for the future. If you give them something that really shows you want to be there, that’s well structured and written, and that’s clear, they will consider you.
Talk about your skills; what skills did your A Levels give you? What volunteer work did you do? How has that helped you? For example, if you’ve done some tutoring or mentoring, did that elevate your communication skills? Are you more patient from it? If you studied maths at A Level, you’ve probably improved in terms of problem solving and systematic thinking. Put that in!
You only have 4000 characters to pack all of that information in, so make sure it’s concise and well structured. Plan it out, plan what you’re going to say in each paragraph. If writing isn’t your strongest attribute, read your drafts aloud to yourself; it’ll be easier to pinpoint mistakes and clumsy language that way. Ask a couple of people to read it through for you. Fresh eyes might be just what it needs to make it pop, and you might have forgotten about something that someone else hasn’t.
I hope that’s been useful, and if you have any questions, feel free to leave them down below! As always comments and suggestions are welcome, good luck with your applications, and I’ll catch you next time!