Every year around 500,000 students apply for university places with around 2.3 million course choices. So how can you get the edge when it comes to applying?
S-cool asked Alix Delany, Assistant Head of Admissions at UEA, how applicants can succeed in getting the place they want.
1. How do I know if university is right for me?
This is an important question to ask, in addition it is important to ask is this the right time for me to study. Some students find that having a gap year can give them some additional income, life experience and time to think about the course that they want to study. Research is the key, talk to family, friends and teachers. Look at university websites, read about the subjects you are interested in and most importantly visit a variety of universities to get a feel for the environment. A happy and well-adjusted student will be a successful student, so finding out as much about the course as possible beforehand as possible is essential.
2. What do universities look for in my application and personal statement?
Most universities will take a holistic approach to a UCAS application. They will take into account the GCSE and A Level profile, the personal statement and the reference provided by the School/College. This helps the university to work out if the student is going to be suitable for the course. In some cases universities will ask you to come to an interview because they can’t fully assess whether you are suitable for the course without meeting you in person. The personal statement is really important because it is your opportunity to present yourself and show your enthusiasm and motivation to study the course you have applied for.
3. How do I know which course will suit me, as many are different from the A levels I’m studying?
There are over 50,000 courses out there and many subjects are not studied at A Level. Universities will make sure that the first year of a course will introduce you to concepts and theories in the subject that you choose. Before you apply many universities offer Subject Taster sessions specifically designed to give you an idea of whether or not you would like to study the course.
4. If I have low AS grades but high predicted grades is it worth applying?
Yes, if the course does not stipulate in the entry requirements an AS requirement you can still apply. What is recommended, is that you work with your advisor to talk about your potential to meet the A Levels grades required for the course. If you choose your courses well, looking at the entry requirements you can give yourself choice i.e. pick some aspirational courses (at higher grades to stretch you) and some courses that you believe there is a realistic chance of gaining an offer. The full academic history is taken into account but many Universities will be looking for potential, and they look to the personal statement and reference in addition to past academic performance.
5. Which A level subjects are most valued by universities?
On the university website and on the UCAS course information the universities will state which, if any A Level subjects are required to study a specific degree. It is worth noting that some courses will also require specific subjects and grades at GCSE so check those requirements too.
6. What can I do outside of my studies to increase my chances of getting accepted?
Although interest and aptitude to study the course needs to be clearly demonstrated in the application, being able to demonstrate how extracurricular activities may enhance your application is important. Some well-chosen and thought through examples are key. For example, if you have a part time job, rather than stating it, you should reflect on how this experience might aid your study at degree level i.e. time keeping, commitment.
7. How do I get an unconditional offer?
In most cases an unconditional offer will be given where applicants have already got the academic requirements for the course. However, some universities are offering an unconditional place to study if the student shows exceptional potential to study at university. These decisions are usually made based on the UCAS application.
8. Which courses are most likely to lead to a good job?
All courses have the potential to lead to good jobs as employer’s value graduate skills highly. Most universities will be able to demonstrate what their alumni have gone on to study to give you an idea of the kind of careers the graduate g on to. Some courses lead directly into a profession, such as a Nursing, Pharmacy or Social Work degree. However, it is recommended that during your time as a student you make full use of the advice, guidance and facilities provided by each universities careers centre. They can help prepare you for the world of work.
9. Is it an advantage to get my application in early?
It is important that you apply by the deadlines stipulated by UCAS. All applications that are received by a deadline need to be given equal consideration. The only advantage of getting your application in early is that you may get to hear back from the universities earlier either with a decision or an invitation for interview/audition. This means that it gives you more time to consider your options.
UEA is a pioneering British university. It leads the way in fields as diverse as climate change, social work, creative writing, international development, food science and much more. UEA are part of the most cited research centre outside of Oxbridge and London, and have won two Nobel prizes. Breakthrough thinking is brought into the classroom to make bright futures for our students.