It’s important for students to know they are making the right choice about which university to go to and what course to study, because it’s a very big step.

To help you, we have information on how to apply to university, what you need to consider, what questions you should ask and what grades you need, as well as much much more.

Applying to University

While applying to university may seem like a daunting task, it is actually very easy. You simply apply online through the UCAS website, which contains clear guidance for all stages of the process.

You will need to enter quite a lot of your key information, such as your current and predicted grades, as well as writing a personal statement; all of these will influence the university’s decision to offer you a place.

For most universities, the application deadline is in January. However, for applicants looking to apply to Oxford and Cambridge, the application deadline is earlier, in October. Meanwhile, the deadline for some art and design courses is in March.

Personal statement

We strongly recommend getting your application all sorted out during the Christmas holidays, before you return to school. This helps prevent your personal statement from being rushed, which can happen if you are having to balance it with your work.

Currently, your personal statement needs to be between 1,000 and 4,000 characters (including spaces). It must also be no longer than 47 lines. This may sound like a lot to some people, but it can be hard to fit in everything you want to say about yourself.

The purpose of the personal statement is to tell the universities about your skills and interests. You need to sell yourself, and stand out from the other applicants. Explain why you want to study the course, and describe the experience you have which makes you a suitable choice for the course. Have you done work experience related to the course? Talk about it, but avoid waffling; keep everything as concise as possible.

Write about your interests outside of school, such as sport or music, and mention any societies you are part of too. As well as finding out about your academic performance and professional capabilities, unis want to see what your passions are. Instead of just listing your hobbies, explain how you’ve gained teamwork, leadership and communication skills as a result, if applicable.

University interviews

Interviews are a crucial part of receiving an offer from a university, as this is their chance to meet you and assess you as a person. This may sound a bit nerve-wracking, but there is no need to worry about it.

It’s important to be yourself, as they just want to know who you are, and the interviewers are likely to see through any act. Get there early, because not only are you giving a good first impression, but you will also have time to better get used to the conditions, helping you feel more comfortable.

Make sure that you’ve read your personal statement because this will form the basis for their questions, so if you’ve falsely claimed to have read a certain book, or pretended you have a certain hobby that you have never actually done, this would be the perfect time to do your research (ideally you won’t have said that though!)

Deferred entry

Deferred entry is when you apply to university in one year, but apply to study at the university in the following year.

So, for example, if you were to apply in 2017 for deferred entry, you would enter the university in 2018.

Deferred entries are taken mostly by those wishing to take a gap year, or to earn some money for university. Some universities allow deferred entries for two years also.

You can use this year to experience new things and travel the world, or just work to improve your CV or to gain experience in the field you want a career in. Regardless of what you decide to do, make sure that you really want to do it, or you may view your ‘gap year’ as a year wasted.