As we approach the UCAS deadline of 15th January 2020, it is really crucial that you know what to do up until the point of submission. This blog outlines the key elements that you need to ensure are completed for a successful application.
1. Put the best thing first
When you write your personal statement, the extended piece of writing at the end of the application, it is recommended that you put the most engaging piece of content first, to ensure that the reader is paying attention to what is to come.
However, do not spend hours and hours trying to think of a 'killer' opening - it might turn out to be not that 'killer' after all. Your interest in the course is the biggest thing so you should start with why you chose it.
Research the choices that you have selected and make sure that you have inputted the correct course codes for starters. Delve deeper than this and also make sure that you have researched the courses thoroughly to match your ambitions and interests.
Ensure you are happy with the locations you have chosen. If you have chosen a university in the North of England but you are from the South of England and don't want to be too far from home, perhaps you should rethink that option and choose somewhere closer. Check the locations on a map if you aren't sure.
Also, re-check over the entry requirements for your five choices and ensure they match your predicted grades. A university is unlikely to accept your offer, even conditionally, if your predicted grades are significantly lower than the entry tariff, you might get rejected immediately, which could be a waste of a choice. So pick wisely!
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3. Highlight your strengths
In the personal statement and throughout the application such as in the work experience section, try to highlight your strengths as much as possible. If you have strengths that will clearly support the course content that you are applying for, make sure that you include it! If you have done something different, that other candidates might not have done, such as some interesting charity work or volunteering, emphasise it and the impact it had.
4. Sort out your references
A reference must be included in your application before it can be sent to UCAS. This is generally from your school or sometimes you can get one when applying independently.
If you're applying independently and you’ve agreed with the universities that a reference is not required – read the information in the reference section of your application to see what to do. Only do this if you have spoken to the universities you’re applying to and had definite confirmation they don’t need a reference for you (UCAS, 2019).
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5. Check it
You MUST check your UCAS application thoroughly before submitting it. This will include:
- Checking the course titles, codes and institution codes;
- Check for spelling and grammar errors;
- Check your contact details;
- Have you definitely completed everything?
- Have you included all your qualifications?
When you input your subjects, again ensure that the institution codes and course codes are correct. Some universities have hundreds of courses and they cannot just assume what you would like to study so make sure that you get it right so that you apply for the right institution for you and the right course.
When it comes to spelling and grammar, fresh eyes can be key to spotting any errors. Ask a parent, guardian or teacher to help you to proofread your work and ensure that you haven't made any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.
Check your contact details are correct. UCAS relies on the information in the personal details section when they send your welcome letter, as well as emails about the status of your application. The universities and colleges will also use it to get in touch with you about interviews, offers and so on, so take a few moments to make sure the details are up-to-date and error-free.
The final checks are ensuring that you have completed all that is required of you and ensuring that you have included all of those qualifications. Even if you do not think that a qualification that you have is relevant, include it because you can bring transferable skills to the course either way.
6. Submit it in plenty of time
Simply sending your application to your school or college before the deadline won't count as sending it on time; it has to be received at UCAS by the deadline. Your tutor will read through your application and make sure you’ve entered everything correctly. If they spot a mistake, they might send it back to you to make changes. Sometimes schools have an earlier deadline than the actual UCAS deadline to ensure that all students get their applications in on time.
Even if your application is completely error free, your school still needs more than a few minutes to get your application sent off. It’s unlikely that yours is the only application they need to approve and send, plus it’s possible they’ll only be looking to see which applications are ready during school hours.
Make sure you submit it in a timely manner.