Blindfolded guidance?

University counsellors, career experts, and education agents in many nations offer their support and assistance to students who wish to complete their application forms. Also, they provide specialist guidance and advice on choosing degrees, institutions, career options, and the whole university experience. Even though it sounds “safer” to rely on experts, this can be an expensive service with many ’grey areas’ due to biased information. In some cases, students don't participate in the admission process and are even led to select the wrong programmes. Many agents work with specific institutions, so there is a natural inclination to send students to the universities they represent.

Advice from within your trusted circle

If you need guidance but cannot or do not want to rely on agents, it can be a wise idea to seek the advice of those who know you best. Start your research on universities and their admissions processes, speak to your teachers, mentors, or anyone you look up to and trust, and start as early as possible. Take in their advice, sit down and make a plan. There is much useful information online, which can get you informed and motivated. For example, university websites and career fairs. And what can be more motivational and inspirational than watching real student testimonials from successful university alumni when thinking about your application?

Goal setting

Researchers Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham explain, “Writing down our goals and having a clear purpose helps us perform better and improves our self-determination”. In other words, we should visualise objectives and find strategies to aid us in breaking down goals into achievable steps. First, make a map with different universities' application steps to help you reach your ultimate career goal and to direct your journey. After, attempt to examine how achievable your career goal is – this will put your search on the right path. Lastly, try to throw off all negative thoughts and go for the best possible result!

University admission process

Gather all necessary documents in advance

Your application form is key to getting into your dream university. Without doubt, this process may be intimidating to many, but you can manage it if you are well prepared and focused. We often feel stressed when we juggle multiple activities, so first, get your priorities straight. Gather all important and necessary documents and make sure you complete them as required. Below is a list of the most typical documents requested by universities during the admissions process:

  • Qualifications
  • Identification cards or passport and personal documents
  • Recommendation Letters
  • Certificates and Transcripts
  • CV
  • Personal Statement
  • Letter of recommendation

Don't panic

Above all, don't be overwhelmed by the blank fields you must complete...it’s just another form! Staying calm and having a clear mind is vital. Read the instructions with care and follow the form's requirements. Go step-by-step and remember you can save and sign back whenever you wish to.

Don't procrastinate

Unsurprisingly, we hinder the path to our goals when we set mental obstacles, lose interest, or slack off. Keep reminding yourself what your goal is and try to stay on track by regularly reviewing your form. Maybe tell someone close to you that you have an application to submit to remind you to finish it.

Common mistakes to avoid

Admissions professionals at Unicaf have highlighted some of the most common application form errors they see and explained what leads some students to miss their opportunity for a quality higher education experience.

Letter of recommendation

Recommendation letters are at the top of the admissions committee’s list. Applicants may not succeed if they do not submit personalised recommendation letters or if they compromise with standard texts that do not highlight their accomplishments, work ethic, or skills. Ask your referees to write recommendation letters that illustrate your unique skills and characteristics, both general and related to your desired field of study. Finally, your letter of recommendation should not repeat information already presented in your personal statement.

Personal statement

A personal statement that is not personal. Overall, university admission officers and instructors expect to see indications the programme you apply for is right for you. Your personal statement must show motivation, understanding of your field/s, and your vision. Your personal statement must engage the reader and make them interested in you. Don’t exaggerate, though, as fancy words may make you come across as pretentious. Try to keep it real and simple. Finally, have someone else read your personal statement aloud and don’t forget to check for grammar and spelling.

Selecting the right programme

You would be surprised by the number of students who get this wrong. Recent surveys show over half of students in the USA believe it is difficult to choose the right degree. Unicaf University instructors caution that it is vital to comprehend fully the programme you are applying for. Bear in mind many degrees “sound similar” or share common modules before you select one. First and foremost, study the course content and structure and decide whether this new knowledge and skills could help you towards your personal and professional goals.

Perfection is in the details

Every bit of info is important for your application, so don't underestimate any detail, even the smallest one. Check everything twice; do not rush and submit your application over-confidently. Then, finally, you are ready for university!