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Guiding your child how to write an exceptional university application? Here are some tips to help them stand out from the crowd

5 minute read

The process of applying to university can be a daunting task for both you and your child, and as a parent or supporter, you’ll want to provide the best guidance possible.

It’s important that your child’s application reflects their abilities, goals and passions. In this blog, you'll get essential tips to help your child make a standout application.

Start planning early

Getting a head start on the application process early will allow your child to revise and perfect it. You could help them prepare a timeline with the key deadlines, as this will help ensure you have time to gather all the necessary documents, prepare any portfolios required, and request any supporting references in time.

There are 4 key sections to consider:

Section 1: Personal information 

Personal details such as name(s), address, date of birth and contact numbers and where they make course choices, so note course codes and university institution codes – the University of Portsmouth code is P80.

Section 2: Qualifications and work experience 

Additional information, such as the qualifications, including GCSEs and A-levels, and whether they have a part-time job. They'll need their grades to hand.

Section 3: Personal statement 

Check out all the good tips and how a parent can support this through checking and reflecting on previous experiences and skills.

Section 4: References 

Where their teacher will write a reference about your child's predicted grades, skills and achievements. This is added in section 4, so ensure that their referee has been contacted and they've agreed to provide a reference for them online.

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How to stand out on a UCAS application

Admission tutors will want to read about your child’s qualities, experiences and achievements. Help to support your child in writing about different challenges they have overcome or if they have undertaken any leadership roles or made any contributions to their community. It will highlight your child’s character in an application. 

  • Include any work experience or internships they have completed. Part-time work or Saturday jobs demonstrate many transferable skills such as teamwork, time management, organisation and commitment. 
  • Make reference to any volunteering roles which show communication and interaction skills. 
  • Mention any hobbies or clubs they’ve attended that demonstrate their extra-curricular interests.
  • Encourage them to draw on each relevant experience and how it has helped them.

Stress the importance of tailoring their application

Ensure that the application is tailored to the university and course your child is applying for. Look at some good examples of personal statements to showcase skills and experience in your child’s personal statement. Encourage them to research the University and specify why they’re interested in their particular course. You want your child to make a good first impression and demonstrate their love of the subject – while showing how their chosen course aligns with their interests and goals. There's some great advice on WhatUni how to tailor your child's application.

Support them in writing a strong personal statement

The personal statement is a chance for your child to demonstrate their passion for the subject they wish to study. Encourage them to be sincere and to focus on their strengths. Take a look at our Personal Statement Hub for more guidance on this, including quick handy tips and free personal statement check. It’s also a good idea to remind them to proofread their personal statement carefully and ask someone else to check it for errors too.

Need a hand? We can check your child's personal statement

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Personal statement hub

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Highlight their academic achievements

Your child's academic achievements are key to their application, so make sure they include all relevant qualifications and grades (predicted or actual) and any recognition awards they have received. If there are any anomalies or inconsistencies in their academic record, support them in using their personal statement to explain their situation and how they have learned and grown from their experience. 

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