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What are some good extra-curriculars/volunteering/work placements that stand out? Watch

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    I know this question has been asked a million times, but I want to ask it specific to my (hopefully) chosen degree. I am studying towards an Access to HE Diploma in September and will be going to University in 2017. Because of the awkwardness in the Access course timeline and the university deadlines, I need to do any work experience/volunteering now and any clubs etc I join at college, well I'm not sure how they will go on my application.

    I have a bad background - mental health, bad GCSEs due to mental health, disadvantaged family background as well as failing college twice. I have emailed all the universities (below) about this and spoke with them on the phone in depth about my circumstances and they said that for circumstances like these (as long as I get the grades) they consider it on a case by case basis and that I will still have a good shot at applying regardless of background IF my grade are exceptional (which I plan on doing).

    Anyway, my question is; what are some good volunteering/work placements/extra-curriculars that help applications stand out? Is doing things like visiting seminars at various universities around the county good, do universities care about books you've ready and lectures you've been too or taster classes etc? Is there a place to note all of this down on the UCAS application?

    For clarification, the universities I am hoping to apply for (provided I get the grades obviously); King's College London, University College London, Nottingham, Durham. I have yet to think of a 5th or any more I may switch out. My favourite university is by far KCL with UCL close behind it. Specific to these universities, is there anything extra I could do to make my application stand out.

    Sorry if this is in the wrong forum. I spent five minutes trying to choose one and settled on applications/UCAS forum.
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    (Original post by Karaleigh19)
    I know this question has been asked a million times, but I want to ask it specific to my (hopefully) chosen degree. I am studying towards an Access to HE Diploma in September and will be going to University in 2017. Because of the awkwardness in the Access course timeline and the university deadlines, I need to do any work experience/volunteering now and any clubs etc I join at college, well I'm not sure how they will go on my application.

    I have a bad background - mental health, bad GCSEs due to mental health, disadvantaged family background as well as failing college twice. I have emailed all the universities (below) about this and spoke with them on the phone in depth about my circumstances and they said that for circumstances like these (as long as I get the grades) they consider it on a case by case basis and that I will still have a good shot at applying regardless of background IF my grade are exceptional (which I plan on doing).

    Anyway, my question is; what are some good volunteering/work placements/extra-curriculars that help applications stand out? Is doing things like visiting seminars at various universities around the county good, do universities care about books you've ready and lectures you've been too or taster classes etc? Is there a place to note all of this down on the UCAS application?

    For clarification, the universities I am hoping to apply for (provided I get the grades obviously); King's College London, University College London, Nottingham, Durham. I have yet to think of a 5th or any more I may switch out. My favourite university is by far KCL with UCL close behind it. Specific to these universities, is there anything extra I could do to make my application stand out.

    Sorry if this is in the wrong forum. I spent five minutes trying to choose one and settled on applications/UCAS forum.
    Which subject are you applying for? Some subjects need lots of work experience but some you just need to show that you've done some extra reading and have a passion for the subject although attending seminars and lectures in your subject would help give you more to talk about in your personal statement.
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    (Original post by claireestelle)
    Which subject are you applying for? Some subjects need lots of work experience but some you just need to show that you've done some extra reading and have a passion for the subject although attending seminars and lectures in your subject would help give you more to talk about in your personal statement.
    I would like to do something around International Relations. KCL - International Relations but UCL doesn't have that specific course, so it would be something similar.

    Regardless, I want to do something politics/international/economics/law related.

    I am going to Qatar in a few weeks to spend two weeks working at my Aunt's school (International School of London) so that is some work experience though it's not directly related to the courses I want to do.
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    (Original post by Karaleigh19)
    I would like to do something around International Relations. KCL - International Relations but UCL doesn't have that specific course, so it would be something similar.

    Regardless, I want to do something politics/international/economics/law related.

    I am going to Qatar in a few weeks to spend two weeks working at my Aunt's school (International School of London) so that is some work experience though it's not directly related to the courses I want to do.
    Work experience is not required (or expected) for that kind of course.

    Can you go to any of the university Open Days and chat with the lecturers and current students? That will give you a better idea of what is expected.
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    (Original post by Karaleigh19)
    I would like to do something around International Relations. KCL - International Relations but UCL doesn't have that specific course, so it would be something similar.

    Regardless, I want to do something politics/international/economics/law related.

    I am going to Qatar in a few weeks to spend two weeks working at my Aunt's school (International School of London) so that is some work experience though it's not directly related to the courses I want to do.
    You don't need work experience - what universities are looking for from a PS is
    a) you have done your research and know enough about the course to know what you're getting into (so a few afternoons digging through modules and doing some reading around the topics you're likely to cover - even on wikipedia - will give you the ability to talk about your interests on the courses you're applying to

    b) you're genuinely interested and motivated to study that subject - you can demonstrate this in a whole bunch of ways, work experience/university lectures is one. TV/radio documentaries, TED talks, MOOCs, reading blogs, reading texbooks etc. The POINT about this is that it should be genuine. Again a few afternoons over the summer FOLLOWING YOUR INTERESTS will give you plenty to talk about around your interests in your subject beyond your current curriculum.

    c) you demonstrate any skills that are necessary for success on the course - in the case of an academic subject like IR then you don't need to demonstrate this in your PS - it will be obvious from your grades.
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    (Original post by jneill)
    Work experience is not required (or expected) for that kind of course.

    Can you go to any of the university Open Days and chat with the lecturers and current students? That will give you a better idea of what is expected.
    Due to my bad GCSEs, attempts at college and such, I need to make my application as strong as possible and prove that I am 1) fit to do the work and 2) committed and dedicated to the course. So, it might not be required, but I feel it is definitely helpful in my circumstance.
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    (Original post by Karaleigh19)
    Due to my bad GCSEs, attempts at college and such, I need to make my application as strong as possible and prove that I am 1) fit to do the work and 2) committed and dedicated to the course. So, it might not be required, but I feel it is definitely helpful in my circumstance.
    Nope. See PQ's invaluable (and experienced) advice above.
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    (Original post by jneill)
    Nope. See PQ's invaluable (and experienced) advice above.
    Okay. So the fact I have dropped out of college twice and did poorly in my GCSEs and done nothing for the last year, won't hinder my application? I'd much rather prove I've been doing something worthwhile like volunteering etc.

    Thank you for both of your advice though, I do appreciate it. I just feel as though my past will hinder my application and therefore I want to do as much as possible to make my application stand out.
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    (Original post by PQ)
    You don't need work experience - what universities are looking for from a PS is
    a) you have done your research and know enough about the course to know what you're getting into (so a few afternoons digging through modules and doing some reading around the topics you're likely to cover - even on wikipedia - will give you the ability to talk about your interests on the courses you're applying to

    b) you're genuinely interested and motivated to study that subject - you can demonstrate this in a whole bunch of ways, work experience/university lectures is one. TV/radio documentaries, TED talks, MOOCs, reading blogs, reading texbooks etc. The POINT about this is that it should be genuine. Again a few afternoons over the summer FOLLOWING YOUR INTERESTS will give you plenty to talk about around your interests in your subject beyond your current curriculum.

    c) you demonstrate any skills that are necessary for success on the course - in the case of an academic subject like IR then you don't need to demonstrate this in your PS - it will be obvious from your grades.
    But it's not like work experience/volunteering/extracurriculars could hinder an application? Would it not help to do things (related or not) as well as having good academics and knowing the stuff?
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    (Original post by Karaleigh19)
    But it's not like work experience/volunteering/extracurriculars could hinder an application? Would it not help to do things (related or not) as well as having good academics and knowing the stuff?
    It wont hurt but any activities should be 100% driven by your personal interests. Do them because you're interested and want to do them not to boost your application. Work experience in particular doesn't really add a lot to an academic subject application. Admissions staff just want to know that you'll make a good STUDENT not a good employee.

    One thing you should do is to prepare as much as you can for your Access course and if possible get to know your tutors and/or whoever will write your reference as soon as possible.

    Don't fall into the trap of rushing to apply in September/October before you've built up a good relationship with your referee and demonstrated to them that you're capable. Your predicted grades and your reference will matter much more than your PS so putting time and effort into building a good relationship and trust with those key staff on your Access course will do you a lot of favours.

    Your reference is the place where your past problems with education should be explained along with emphasising how your attitude to work is now very good. From you it sounds like an excuse - from your reference it sounds like a recommendation.

    An application sent in in January from Access applicants is expected by universities - we know it takes time to build up the work and relationships necessary to apply. A great reference and predictions in January with a good PS showing genuine enthusiasm for your subject (both now and in the future) is what you should be aiming for.
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    (Original post by PQ)
    It wont hurt but any activities should be 100% driven by your personal interests. Do them because you're interested and want to do them not to boost your application. Work experience in particular doesn't really add a lot to an academic subject application. Admissions staff just want to know that you'll make a good STUDENT not a good employee.

    One thing you should do is to prepare as much as you can for your Access course and if possible get to know your tutors and/or whoever will write your reference as soon as possible.

    Don't fall into the trap of rushing to apply in September/October before you've built up a good relationship with your referee and demonstrated to them that you're capable. Your predicted grades and your reference will matter much more than your PS so putting time and effort into building a good relationship and trust with those key staff on your Access course will do you a lot of favours.

    Your reference is the place where your past problems with education should be explained along with emphasising how your attitude to work is now very good. From you it sounds like an excuse - from your reference it sounds like a recommendation.

    An application sent in in January from Access applicants is expected by universities - we know it takes time to build up the work and relationships necessary to apply. A great reference and predictions in January with a good PS showing genuine enthusiasm for your subject (both now and in the future) is what you should be aiming for.
    Thanks a lot. I plan on only doing things I actually enjoy and most of the stuff I have planned already is happening because I want to do it regardless of whether it looks good or not.

    But yeah, thanks for your advice, very much appreciated.

    Edit: Oh and I know about the reference thing, I've been in contact with the head of the Access course at my college who has done this whole 'fit to study' policy and I'm meeting with him in July/August to talk about my mental health and university and stuff. So fingers crossed, my tutors and head of the access course likes me and writes me and awesome reference lol.
 
 
 
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