With the final UCAS deadline looming in mid-January, students are worrying about the application which will bag them a place on the university course of their dreams.
But fear not, because here are some tips for putting together a successful, standout application.
1. Check your own understanding
Hopefully, you have done your background work on your course by attending open days, reading blogs and poring over prospectuses. But even if this is the case, do you really understand the course you are applying for?
Go back through the UCAS entry profile and double check that the course you have selected meets your needs and does what you think it does. Students who have misconceptions about the content of a course often reflect this in their application, which does not make for a good start.
2. Get the fine tooth comb out
No eye rolling, I know you have probably been told this a million times, and I’m going to say it again … this document could effectively change your life – and proof reading and drafting is essential.
Ensure you check everything on your form, from your personal details to your course code, everything needs to be perfect. Admissions tutors will be eagle eyed when it comes to grammatical and spelling errors, so check it once, check it twice, and then check it again.
3. Make up your mind
Your personal statement is the most substantial aspect of your application. This is where you really get to show your potential university who you are. It’s therefore essential that your statement does that, evidences you as a future scholar who oozes enthusiasm for their chosen subject and course.
The most crucial thing admissions tutors will look for in your personal statement is a strong rationale as to why you want a place on their course. If you’re applying to multiple institutions this can be a tricky ask. So this is why it’s best to keep your course choices consistent – because applying for four primary education courses and then an engineering degree isn’t going to make things easy for you.
4. Make it personal
The personal statement should also do what it says on the tin – it should be personal to you. This is your opportunity to shine in terms of talking about your academic and personal achievements. It can be easy to fall into lazy language when you’re doing this. If admissions tutors had a pound for every time they read the word “passion” in a personal statement, they’d probably be living on a tropical island by now.
Put the effort into your explanation. Talk concisely about your achievements, then show the impact they have had on you. So, rather than “I am a passionate member of the local outdoor pursuits club”, try “being a member of the local outdoor pursuits club has helped me hone my leadership, problem solving and collaboration skills”. See the difference?
Work hard with your language. You want to grab the attention of your reader and avoiding generic statements such as “I have always had a passion for …” is your first step in doing that. You should also talk about specific aspects of a subject that fuel your interest, and the more you can evidence this, the better chance of acceptance you have.
5. Two pairs of eyes
Your application should now be a glowing reflection of who you are and your hopes and ambitions for your academic career. This can make some people reluctant to share it with even their closest family and friends. But unfortunately, this is a must.
Think how many times you check a social media update before you post it to the world, this is a million times more important. Do you really want to hit submit before having it checked? Have at least one other person read over your application, they could pick up on a missed word, incorrect spelling or fantastic achievement you have overlooked. The more input you can get the better, so if you’re up for sharing get as many people as you can to take a look at your final draft before you submit it.
* This article was originally published on The Conversation.