So, you’re not sure if university is for you – or, perhaps, you want to attend university, but you need advice about the basics. Below are a few tips on applying, choosing a university, and making the most of the experience.

Advice about applying

The traditional route of applying through UCAS requires a few of the same things in every application: grades, references, and a personal statement. Each one is as important as the other. Your grades reflect how well you have done so far in your academics. References are like recommendations – from teachers, mentors and other people who believe in you. Your personal statement is your time to shine. Avoid starting with clichés like, “I have always had a passion for engineering.”

Instead, write about your accomplishments and why you are a good candidate for your chosen course.

Closing words of advice: No matter who you are, you will need someone to look over your application so that everything is correct, and your writing is polished. UCAS is a tedious process, so you might be prone to errors – make sure to avoid them.

Advice about choosing a university

Try not to pay too much attention to rankings. Unless you are accomplished at an Oxbridge-level, you should apply to the university best suited to your course. Otherwise, rankings fluctuate every year. Make sure that you meet the entry requirements and grades. If you do not, does the university offer a foundation year programme? If you are already eligible, think about what you want to study and where. What makes a university great for your course is the facilities it offers, the topics the course covers, and career support.

Closing words of advice: It is imperative to attend an open day, virtual or physical, if you have the opportunity. Universities try to sweet-talk you with glossy brochures, but if you can tour the institution and meet its staff, you will get an actual sense of what it would be like to study there.

What the experience is like

Attending university is a fantastic experience if you make it so.

Go to fresher’s week, join societies, and hit up the library for a quiet place to revise. Keep busy and networking, and you can gain valuable connections to maintain for life. You might meet potential study buddies, too, if they study the same course.

Closing words of advice: Make the university work for you, too. E-mail your lecturers when you need help. Study abroad if you want to! Just be proactive.