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Read our parents guide to applying to university from a parent and supporter like you

Parents have an important role in the university application process. It's their encouragement and motivation that helps their children feel confident in applying. We understand there could be better UCAS support for parents as they navigate the process beside their children.

As you and your child begin the application process, we understand you’ll also want some UCAS support as parents.

We sat down with one parent to hear how they supported their son, Maddox, as he made his successful application to the University of Portsmouth. 

How did you and your child begin the university application process?

There’s lots to consider when applying to university. From which course to study, to the uni to study at. How did you help Maddox get started?

Maddox had a clear idea of the career he wanted; to join the police. But he was confused about the different routes he could take to get there. We used UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) and Google to find out which universities offered courses that would support his choices the best.

I also encouraged Maddox to talk to the careers team at his college to ask for their advice and recommendations. With his predicted grades, we could see which universities were likely to accept him. And researching the course in advance helped tailor his personal statement to his skills and experience.

After looking at modules offered on each course, we shortlisted universities and booked onto their open days. We wanted to find out more about course content, accommodation, and student support.

Top Tips:

  • Talk to your child about their future, careers, and interests they might want to study.
  • Encourage your child to talk to the careers team at school or college. Get an idea of the sort of qualifications they need, or routes they could take to reach their ambition.
  • Use your child’s predicted grades to narrow down your search. Look at universities that offer relevant courses.
  • Book onto an open day to experience the university, city and student life first hand.

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What did Maddox include in their personal statement?

Writing a personal statement is an important part of a university application. What support did you give Maddox, to make sure it included everything it needed to?

When it came to writing his personal statement, we used the University of Portsmouth Statement Hub as a guide on how to lay it out, and what to include.

Having good essay writing skills was really useful for getting the correct word count, expanding on important points, and explaining why he wanted to study his chosen course.

I gave advice on spelling and grammar, and Maddox also used the Careers Office at college. They gave him more advice on what else to include, while making sure he kept within the word count.

Top Tips:

  • Help your child brush up on essay writing skills. This includes spelling and grammar, and sticking to a word count.
  • Read over your child's personal statement, to make sure it’s as good as it can be.
  • Use the University of Portsmouth Statement Hub. This will give you expert advice on what your child should include, and how to lay it out.

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Access videos, tips, and help sheets so you can support your child with their personal statement and help them show a university why they're the perfect candidate.

How did you keep track of applications and offers?

Once Maddox had applied, what happened next? How did you keep track of application deadlines, and how did you support him in making the right decision once offers came in?

We looked at UCAS at least once a week to check how far along Maddox was in his application, and his college was able to give an update on deadlines - so he didn’t miss any key dates.

The University of Portsmouth website provided a handy reference for UCAS submission deadlines, too. With all of this, we were able to go through timelines, to make sure Maddox was prepared. 

After he submitted his personal statement, it was only a matter of days before Maddox received offers. Our next step was to book onto applicant experience days, to have a closer look at courses and help make a decision.

Leading up to results day, we were a bit worried about rumours that grade boundaries had increased. So we looked at Clearing information and registered on the University Of Portsmouth Clearing site. We saved the hotline number, in case we needed to call after we received his results.

But on results morning, we were pleased to see Maddox had been offered a place on the course of his choice!


Top Tips:

  • Check the UCAS website regularly for updates on your child’s application
  • Use our handy reference sheet for dates
  • Book onto an upcoming Applicant Experience Day to take a closer look at courses
  • Be prepared for Clearing, in case your child changes their mind about their course, or doesn’t get the grades they were hoping for.

What is Maddox doing now, and what advice would you give to parents?

Maddox accepted a place at the University of Portsmouth, which is fantastic. What was the overall experience of applying to university like, and what advice would you give to other parents? 

Maddox is studying BSc (Hons) Counter Terrorism, Intelligence and Cybercrime. Uni life is very different from college. He attends lectures and seminars four days a week, and heads to the library in the evening.

Through applying to uni, he’s built confidence in writing essays and asking for help. Writing a personal statement can be hard. But he was able to access support from various sources when he needed to.

Make sure you do your research and look at modules on the courses your child is interested in. Many offer different pathways or optional modules, which could help in decision making.

Use services that are available from universities, and this parents guide on applying to university. We used Portsmouth’s personal statement checking service. And utilising all the resources available to you from your child’s college can be a massive help as well.

Top Tips:

  • Familiarise yourself with all the resources available to support your child in applying to university.
  • Take a closer look at courses — some may have optional modules or pathways that your child may be interested in.

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