If you are reading this post, then you have most likely begun the journey of university applications. University is often considered the pinnacle of education and preparing for it can be like a life goal. I was drilled at a very young age to believe that every move I made could make or break my chances of getting into my top choice university. While it is really important to prepare yourself for bettering your chances, it doesn’t mean you should stress yourself sick.
First, you need to have an idea of where you want to apply; which countries, which universities and what programs. It can take some time to do the research. I would suggest beginning at least a year advance, if not earlier. It can be difficult to decide what you want to study. I spent a year bouncing between radically different programs, but eventually through my research and some self-exploration, I decided on the field and programs I wanted to pursue. Through your research, you might discover that you will need to take certain examinations, have specific credits to apply or need to create a portfolio. This is why it is important to start your research well in advance.
Once you know where you want to go and what you need to apply, it’s time to start working on your personal statement, portfolio, letters of recommendation and other pieces. Don’t underestimate the time it will take to do all this. Your personal statement should be well-written, original and captivating to admissions. It is your way of introducing yourself to the school and proving that you are the type of student they want. You will also need to give your referees enough time to write a letter of recommendation. It’s also important to note what type of letter of recommendation you are required to submit (i.e. academic or specialized). Some schools will require both types, so be sure to check. As for portfolio pieces, this is another place you will want to devote a great deal of time and effort. You are showing your talent. Talk to teachers, family and admissions for advice as to what to include. Universities often have portfolio days which allow you to visit and discuss your portfolio with a staff member.
Technically, you cannot submit anything until the application period is open. You might choose not to work on you applications until then. However, I did that and it was super stressful. Trying to balance your current school work with applications and portfolios is absolute mania. Luckily I had started my personal statement during the summer. It took me six months to perfect it.
Allot yourself at least two weeks to complete the actual application form. You never know when you will have questions, so give yourself extra time. Also, if you are applying as a foreign student you will have to deal with time differences and questions pertaining foreign affairs. Check to see if your application database has a Facebook page or a live help section on their website.
If you are applying to UK schools through UCAS, be sure to check out their Facebook page. You can leave them questions on their wall and they will reply to you directly. UCAS is seriously a great help during the application process. Their technicians are always eager to help, so even if you think you have a silly question, its safer to ask than to make a mistake.