14th Dec 2012
How to write that winning UCAS form
With the first deadline looming in a month, time is running out if you are considering applying for a university place next year. Anne Richardson from the Department for Employment and Learning’s Careers Service has this advice…
Deciding to go to university or college and choosing the course and location that is right for you can be a life-changing decision.
Do as much research as possible so that you choose the right course for the right reasons. Check that you meet the academic entry requirements and consider if you are likely to meet the grades or tariff points required.
UCAS is responsible for managing applications to higher education courses in the UK. They process more than two million applications for full-time undergraduate courses every year, and provide a comprehensive website to help students to find the right course and guide them through the application process. You can find out more on www.ucas.ac.uk
Central Admissions Office (CAO) has been delegated by participating Higher Education Institutions in the Republic of Ireland to process their applications centrally. For more information go to www.cao.ie
January 15, 2013 is the main application deadline for UK university courses commencing in 2013. The deadline for art and design courses is March 24, 2013. The deadline for normal online or paper applications to Higher Education Institutes in the Republic of Ireland are February 1, 2013 and for late applications is May 1, 2013. The deadline for their ‘change of mind’ applications is
July 1, 2013.
Many universities in the UK do not interview applicants as they rely on the information provided on the UCAS application form. The application includes personal details, predicted grades, a reference and the personal statement.
The importance of the personal statement cannot be overstated as it forms a key part of the offer process.
Prospective university students should consider the points below in relation to their personal statement:
- Explain why you want to go to university and how you plan to use the qualification.
- Provide evidence that you have the skills to study the course for which you are applying.
- Demonstrate your understanding of your chosen academic area.
- Show how your current or previous studies relate to your preferred courses.
- Provide examples of any activities that show an interest in your chosen course. This could include any jobs, work experience or voluntary work that you have undertaken and what you have learned from the experience. e.g. team working and interpersonal skills, analysing and problem solving skills, communication skills, IT skills, personal planning and organising skills.
- Include any skills or talents that make you stand out from the crowd. These could be as varied as sports and leisure activities, musical or language ability, or any prizes or awards that you have won.
- Highlight any positions of responsibility you have held and how you have developed as a result of the opportunity.
- If you have taken a gap year, explain what you have learned from the experience.
- Ensure that you explain how your skills, experiences and lessons learned relate to your chosen course.
Don’t forget the basic dos and don’ts!
- Do be enthusiastic - if you show interest in the course, it may help you get a place.
- Do remember to arrange your personal statement in order - a beginning, a middle and an end.
- Do check for spelling and grammatical errors.
- Do ask someone to look over your entire UCAS form - a fresh perspective can show up inaccuracies that a tired eye may miss.
- Do keep within the limit of 47 lines and 4,000 characters
- Don’t start every sentence with “I.”
- Don’t try to be funny or make jokes.
- Don’t lie or embellish the truth.
- Don't say too much about things that are not relevant.
Careers advisers can help you to explore options and make decisions about your future career path. They can also provide support when it comes to filling out the UCAS application form.
The Careers Service is there to help you make informed, appropriate and achievable career choices and offers free and impartial careers information, advice and guidance. Go to www.nidirect.gov.uk/careers to locate your nearest Careers Office or phone 0300 200 7820.