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    Applying 2014

    05/12/2013
    There are just a few weeks until you need to submit your UCAS application. By now most of you will have an idea of what course you’d like to study, what university to attend - and you may have a first draft of your personal statement too. If you're still unsure, take a look at our hints, tips and guidelines to get some extra insight into polishing your application – and making it shine.

    There are just a few weeks until you need to submit your UCAS application. By now most of you will have an idea of what course you'd like to study, what university to attend - and you may have a first draft of your personal statement too. If you're still unsure, take a look at our hints, tips and guidelines to get some extra insight into polishing your application – and making it shine.

    Choosing your course

    Many students will have an idea of what they might want to do early on but for others choosing between different subjects can be tricky. Even if you are sure what you want to do at university, do take the time to research. University offers a much wider range of subjects than schools or colleges – so you might find interesting courses you didn't know existed or courses within your area that sound more "you" than the one you originally chose.

    Students for businessSome things you can consider if you're not quite sure which course to study:

    • Do I need a particular course for the career path I want or is it flexible?
    • Which subjects lead on from the subjects I am currently studying?
    • What are my skills and which subject/career might suit them?
    • Do I want to study abroad? Does the course offer this?
    • Do I want to consider a sandwich course? A sandwich course contains a work placement year in addition to the usual three years of study.
    • Which style of learning suits me best?
    • What are the entry requirements? Entry requirements are really important, and you should aim to choose courses offered at universities which you have a realistic chance of getting in to.

    Quad mainChoosing your university

    With hundreds of higher education providers it can be difficult to select just five. A good way to begin is to make a list of what you want from a university – what your priorities are. For example, you might want to study in a particular part of the country, or go somewhere which has particular facilities. Once you've worked out what is most important to you, you can then start seeing which universities fit your requirements. Some things to think about could be:

    • Does the university offer my course? Do the modules interest me? Different universities teach in different ways so looking at modules of courses gives you an idea for what they're like. 
    • Would I prefer to study at a local university or move further afield?
    • Do I plan to commute or would I like to live in halls of residence?
    • How did I feel when I visited the university on an open day? Could I see myself fitting in?
    • Do the university facilities suit my needs?
    • Are there work placements or study abroad options?

    Your personal statementbook art main

    This short statement (4,000 characters or 47 lines long) is the part of applying that students struggle with the most. Admissions tutors want you to demonstrate that your knowledge and skills are a good fit for your course, and they also want to know why you've chosen to spend the next three years or more studying it. Here are our top tips for writing a winning personal statement:

    • Structure your personal statement well. You need a strong introduction explaining why you've chosen the course and a conclusion. Just saying you're passionate about the subject is not enough – give more details!
    • You should also consider including a paragraph on any work experience you have and the skills/knowledge gained from that.
    • Other paragraphs to consider are hobbies, what you've learned from school/college and any sporting/team involvement.
    • Give examples to back up what you say.
    • Give enough information to make what you say interesting.
    • Be specific! Details make you stand out from the crowd.
    • Proofread your personal statement. Your spelling, punctuation and grammar needs to be perfect. Even better, read it out loud.
    • Never mention specific universities, and never make claims you can't back up.
    • Don't plagiarise. Admissions tutors will be able to tell if you steal parts of your statement and they will reject you.

    Further information

    For more in depth help with your personal statement you can visit our applying page, which has a full personal statement pack and other tips and hints. There's also a wealth of information on the UCAS website.

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