Emily and Julie’s Trip to the Highlands

Julie and Emily with Kilchurn CastleMy friend, Julie, and I love to travel. We are constantly trying to find new places to have adventures, so when we got a week off from classes back in January, we took advantage of the free time to hop on a bus tour through the highlands. We took plenty of pictures and did some filming too, however, it was so cold that most of our  footage came out quite shaky. While it’s taken us ages to find the time to edit the video together, I’m very pleased to announce that the video is now on my youtube channel, so please check it out!

If you are interested in taking a bus tour around Scotland, I would definitely suggest Rabbie’s. Julie and I had a great experience with them. Their drivers are knowledgeable, friendly and most importantly good drivers. Rabbie’s also has the great policy that even if you are the only person to have booked the bus, they will still take you. They also offer deals for seniors and students and depart from both Edinburgh and Glasgow. The tour we took brought us to Inveraray, Loch Awe, Kilchurn Castle, Oban and Glencoe.

Check out the video! 

A Rough Application Timeline for UCAS or CUKAS

~ Know the key dates for applications to UCAS and CUKAS ~

One Year or More before Applying:  

You might have known what you want to study since the age of six and already have your life plan completed, but for the majority of people who don’t, it’s important to leave yourself enough time to change your mind and discover what it is you want to do. This is a good time to begin researching various universities, programs and determining what you need to do in order to be accepted. During this time you should also begin researching scholarships and financial aid programs offered by the universities that interest you.

Nine Months:

By this time you should have a clearer picture of the programs and universities where you are intending to apply and what you will need to do in order to complete your application. Find out if you will need to create a portfolio, attend interviews or auditions or sit some standardized tests.

Six Months:

 With six months to go before the application deadline, you might feel like you still have loads of time. However, it is a good idea to begin brainstorming and writing your personal statement. Your personal statement is your way of selling yourself to admissions and distinguishing yourself from other candidates. You want to be original and appear to be the type of student the school wants. You also want to give yourself plenty of time to make corrections and let others, like parents or academic advisors, take a look and give you some feedback. 

Three Months: 

Prepare to send your marks to date. This might be a little confusing if you are from overseas. Contact the universities you are applying to and ask how they would like to receive your marks. You might be asked to calculate your average and enter it in the Education and Marks section on the application. However, they might ask you to send or scan your transcripts to them directly. If this is the case, you will need to dig up the transcripts you require before sending them in. You can always contact your high school if you cannot find a copy that you require.

One/Two Months before: 

You should contact the person you would like to write your letter of recommendation. They are doing you a great service, so you want to give them enough time to complete the letter without them feeling stressed. On UCAS, your referee will be invited to submit their letter online. However, on CUKAS, you are responsible for making sure that the letters get sent in. So for CUKAS it is very important that you give your referee enough time to write the letter and for the post to get it to the school. Always check how many letters of recommendation you require and what type of letter it should be (ex: academic or specialized). 

Perfect your letter personal statement, or start it if you have already!

Applications Open: 

Create your account as soon as you can and fill out the primary information. This allows you to see all the information that is required and if you encounter something you don’t understand, you will have the time to get the answer. If you have questions, the best place to ask is the actual website you are dealing with. Call the helpline or check out the Facebook page to ask your questions. 

Once you’ve filled out you primary information, have your referee upload their letter to UCAS or if using CUKAS, mail the letter, submit your marks, upload your completed personal statement, check over your application and make sure you have completed all the sections, then pay and submit!

 CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve submitted your application!

Following the submission of your application, you may be contacted about interviews or portfolios. 

An Application Overview

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. 

"Education is all a matter of building bridges" - Ralph Ellison

“Education is all a matter of building bridges” – Ralph Ellison

University Abroad Talk

Freaking out about applying to university? Thinking about applying abroad? Don’t fret! This post marks the first of many about applying to universities abroad. 

Your mind is probably filled with hundreds of questions and anxieties, but don’t worry, because there are literally thousands of people going through the same thing. Applying to university can be stressful, but applying abroad can make you even more anxious. More often than not, academic advisors in your school will be specialized in helping you apply to universities in your own country. While I’m no expert on the world’s different application systems, I can definitely help you de-stress during your application period. Having just gone through the British application systems, UCAS and CUKAS as a Canadian student, I can vouch that applying abroad can be scary, but it’s well worth it. 

To give you a preview of the questions I’ll be answering, you can look forward to posts on: 

  • Application Timelines
  • Applying through UCAS and CUKAS
  • Applying to Film Schools
  • Writing your Letter of Intent
  • Financing and Scholarships
  • Tips for Staying Focused and Balanced

I will be posting weekly, answering the different questions and concerns I had and if you have any feel free to comment! That’s why I’m here!