Explore your options
First, it’s a good idea to make sure that you have explored all of your aspirations and interests to find the course best suited to you. I found the UCAS search tool useful to find and compare university courses. It is much easier to write a concise statement when you are applying to similar courses, especially when you’ve found the one you are most passionate about. But there’s more to think about than just the course. Learn about the university and get a feeling for what their campus and community is like. If you have the opportunity, sign up for Online Open Days and chat to current students. This is the ultimate way to find out how you feel about the place. I made sure to apply to as many Open Days as possible, and some of those experiences were the deciding factors on whether I submitted an application or not.
Understand what the course tutors are looking for
To make the best and biggest impression, learn about the criteria of your course and what those specific course tutors are looking for in an application. Start with the grades, are they achievable? Once you feel confident with the academic requirements, explore the university's website to find their tips on applying. Leeds Beckett provides a helpful application walkthrough. Scan the web page of your chosen course too. When doing this I highlighted key words which could indicate what the course tutors are looking for in prospective students. I could then use this information to put together a good application.
Make a checklist
Manually writing down and crossing off the steps of your application can make the process satisfying and easy to follow. There’s more to think about than just your personal statement; have you put down the correct course? Have you used all of your university slots? Have you correctly filled in all of your education history? Double checking this information with a pen and paper can only help those who easily lose their train of thought. If a checklist isn’t your thing, a mind map also comes in handy, especially for mapping out your key attributes when statement planning. I am a very visual learner, so I preferred this method. I also found that by using a mind map it was easier to expand on points by adding branches, which was very helpful for jotting down ideas for statement content.
Review your statement
Your statement is the most important part of your application because it helps you make your case as to why you should receive a place at your chosen universities. When I applied to Leeds Beckett University, I wanted to make sure I emphasised all my relevant experience to separate my statement from everyone else’s. It is very important to back up any points you make with relevant examples. E.g. if you wrote; I am very organised, you should use this point to expand and explain where you have used this skill; At my part time job, I applied my organisation skills to manage customer queries and prepare orders. Make sure that you don’t sound robotic though. Whether it’s an employer or a course tutor, they want to make sure they’re choosing someone engaging and enthusiastic. Trust yourself and put your personality into your text.
Look for support
If the option is available to ask others to review your application, do it! Parents, siblings, friends or teachers will be happy to help. They may spot grammar or structural mistakes that you skipped over. Another essential thing to consider is your reference. Choose someone who is on your side, and ensure they can see you in a positive light when they write it. During my application, I asked my tutor (and History teacher) to write my reference. While the subject he taught wasn’t relevant to my science focused degree, he saw my growth in the last year of college and was confident in my potential. As this teacher also knew me as an individual, he could recognise and report on my interests and personality.
It takes time to write and process a UCAS application, so make sure you’re organised and prepared to make big decisions. Your statement and reference are as crucial as your grades, so surround yourself with structure and positivity to get it out of the way and refocus on your subject learning again. Remember, you don’t need to do it all in one day! Help yourself by making this process as easy as possible and try not to stress.