How to write the perfect UCAS application
Applying to go to university is one of the biggest decision of a young person’s life and understandably many find the process overwhelming. Competition for places is fierce and you only get one UCAS application in the UK to cover many options so the pressure is immense. Here are our tips on writing the perfect application form.
Research the courses, the universities and the locations. Contact current students, read the brochures, attend higher education events and open days. Ask yourselves some honest questions. Are you applying for a specific place simply because your friend is going? Can you really afford to live in London? Will your grades be good enough to study Medicine? Our UCAS advisors offer informed, objective advice. We read between the lines of the prospectus and see behind the well-rehearsed open days to give you a genuine idea of what to expect.
Give yourself time for your application
The UCAS form has deadlines in the summer between school and university, and applications for Oxford and Cambridge must be completed by October, almost a year before the course starts and slap bang in the middle of A Levels. With young people so busy – or busy relaxing after the stress of exams – there can be a tendency to rattle off a poorly-researched application at the eleventh hour. We can take the pressure off by guiding you through the process in a timely manner and doing much of the donkey work for you.
Be realistic about University choice
If it’s unlikely you’re going to get the grades the courses on your university shortlist demand, you may find yourself rejected from each one and have no option to go through the clearing system. Talk to your teacher about your predicted grades and if you feel you might be falling short, include options on your shortlist with a less demanding selection criteria. Our UCAS advisors know which courses are highly competitive and which places have excellent courses and fewer applicants. Lean on us for advice.
Write a brilliant UCAS personal statement
This is your best chance to shine. Be yourself and be honest. Show passion for your subject and draw on evidence to prove a point. Overlong, rambling statements full of clichés say nothing about you. Don’t be tempted to copy it from the internet – admissions tutors read hundreds of these and are experts in spotting plagiarism. Don’t rush it and ensure others read it, and proofread it, before you send it off. Teachers are too busy to look at each one in depth and parents may not know what they’re looking for. We do.
Show a breadth of interests
Universities want the best students and that doesn’t necessarily mean the ones with the best qualifications. Show them how you’ll become an essential part of the fabric. Your grades might not be remarkable but that doesn’t mean you’re not. An interest in extra-curricular activities, from sport to music, activism to theatre shows you’re a well-rounded character. Have you held down a part-time job or volunteer post? All of these tell the admissions tutor something about you as a person.
Get a good referee
If you’ve chosen a teacher as your referee it’s good to know they’re on your side. Don’t choose one who couldn’t pick you out of a line up or someone you’ve shown little respect to over the years. If your application is borderline, the decision could sit with your referee, so if you’re constantly late or can’t meet a deadline, it’s worth changing your behaviour. If you do, they’ll know you’re serious about university. And if your referee is predicting your grades and they’re falling short, you might need to work harder.
William Clarence Education offers unbiased advice on UK School and University Placement, Oxbridge Admissions, US College Applications, UCAS application and extensive support for parents and students in all aspects of preparing for entry to the UK.
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