10 mistakes study abroad students make. How to avoid them?
Applying to a university in a different country can be a nerve wracking process. There is a lot at stake for you but it is difficult to know how good your application is and how it will hold against the other candidates’. We will help you to get it right the first time and to learn from typical mistakes rather than making your own.
The data in this article are for UK universities. However, advice is applicable whether you are applying to study in the UK, US, Canada or other countries.
Applying to too many/few universities
If you apply to more than 5 universities, you might give yourself too much workload that will be difficult to manage. It’s quality, not quantity that really matters here. However, do make sure you give yourself a backup and not put all your eggs in one basket. We recommend choosing 3 universities for your applications.
Not planning ahead
The first thing to remember is that universities in the UK have strict deadlines for application submission. If you don’t think about this a year in advance, you may not give yourself enough time to prepare a competitive application. For some universities, such as Cambridge and Oxford, and subjects like medicine, dentistry or veterinary science you will have to submit your application by mid-October for programmes starting in September next year. Good planning is the key.
Please see the up to date list of deadlines for bachelor’s programmes on thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk
Careless approach to filling in the application form
Make sure you fill in all the fields and answer every question when you are filling an application form. If you show careless approach to your application, it will affect the impression you make on an admissions officer at the university. Remember that this is your only opportunity to present yourself and every detail of your application will reflect on your character and attitude.
Getting too personal
Personal statement is your main chance put your case across to the university, so make the most of it! University will expect to see information about your relevant academic and other achievements, your passion for the chosen subject and why you chose this particular university. They will not be as fascinated by your personal history and your childhood stories.
Read more about writing a personal statement on the UCAS website.
Underplaying your achievements
In some countries modesty is valued highly and it is not considered intelligent to brag about your achievements. If there is ever time to brag, this is the time! Make sure you write positively and look for the things you are proud of or where you have done well or had good feedback from your tutors. But don’t forget to support your claims with facts.
Fear of originality
By the time you start doing your application, you will have probably read many examples of personal statements online to get an idea of how to write one. This can be helpful, but it can take you in the wrong direction if you start trying to copy those. The admissions read through a lot of statements so yours needs to stand out. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Be truthful about your own academic achievements and experience and find something that will make you stand out. And never ever copy anything from other applications! All personal statements are scanned for plagiarism and if you get caught out, your chances of being accepted will become very remote.
Not putting enough importance on references
Reference is not just a positive statement about you. It can also give crucial information about your strengths or weaknesses that will be taken as an objective evaluation of your abilities. Make sure you find the right referee who knows your strengths well and who will be willing to go into more detail about them rather than just wright a general statement.
Not saying about your extracurricular activities
Some students keep their application strictly academic and avoid talking about their other interests and abilities. A university will want to see the whole picture of how you will be able to contribute to university life. You need to show that you are a strong, independent and active person, possibly with leadership qualities.
Use of humour
You do want your application to stand out but for the right reasons. Be very careful with how you use humour. Avoid using it unless you are absolutely confident it is necessary. It is especially important if you are applying to a university abroad, as humour can be very different in that country.
Inappropriate email addressesAnd the last touch. Make sure your email address is suitable for academic environment. Avoid anything playful or humorous and go for a more professional approach. Simply use your name and surname combination.
We hope that these guidelines will make the application process a little easier for you.
For more information, please read ‘3 simple tips how to succeed in a UK university application’.