Is your unfinished personal statement making you want to cancel Christmas this year?
With just over a month until the main application deadline on the 15th January it’s natural to feel a bit on edge. And with school holidays nearly here, it’s ok to feel nervous that you’re unlikely to get any feedback on your final PS draft until towards the end of your first week back
We asked universities to share their advice on what you need to do over the Christmas break to ensure your application is ready and submitted before the January deadline.
Time is tight, but remember that you’ll be working to multiple deadlines independently at uni so actually this is really good practice. Try to stay calm and find a quiet place where you can focus, advises Dida Chahal, Admissions Team Leader at the University of Bradford. Sean Williams, Outreach Manager says “think about the reasons why you wanted to go to university in the first place, and specifically, why you wish to study your course. Simply explain to the Universities why you’re applying."
But sometimes just trying to start it can make you want to bury your head in the sand, so if “starting is putting you off, go to the middle of the statement” advises Susie King, Head of Admissions at the University of Bedfordshire.
Staffordshire University also told us that they will be running a personal statements checker service over the Christmas holidays, Phil O’Neill – Education Liaison Officer explains: “we’ll be looking through your personal statements to give you personalised feedback about what we would recommend."
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Don’t compare yourself to your friends
Don’t overthink the fact that you’re the last one in your friendship group or even your college to apply. It really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. What’s important is that you use your time as constructively as possible over the next few weeks. Gillian Woolley Pre-entry information, Advice and Guidance Adviser at the University of East London adds “the gap after Christmas and before New Year is the perfect time to make a last minute application to university. Order any prospectuses you need now before Christmas and you should be able to browse through them in that downtime between parties”. Roland Monger, Admissions Manager at Plymouth University adds “you should apply when you are happy that your application is as strong and complete as it can be”. The quality of your application is far more important than getting it in months in advance of the deadline.
Let your teacher know that you will need a reference
Before the holidays begin “take a few deep breaths and get advice from the staff at your school or college” says Matthew Taylor, Head of Admissions at St Marys University, Twickenham. Most importantly make sure that you speak to the teacher who will be writing your reference. Writing a reference can take a long time so you need to make sure that they will have time planned in to do this for you.
Get a sense check from friends and family
“Even if you’re rushing to get a personal statement completed quickly, it’s really worthwhile taking the time to double check spelling and grammar. If you’ve re-read it several times get a friend or parent to cast their eye over it – a fresh pair of eyes can spot mistakes you might not notice,” says Steph Copsey, Higher Education Adviser at UEA. Use the people that know you well to coach you on creating the best PS. They’ll be able to “point out your strengths and remind you of your experiences that could make your PS really stand out” adds Monger.
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Don’t worry that your favourite universities will have no places left
“Whether you apply 10 months or 1 week before the deadline, all applications get treated the same and we look at all your credentials” says Paul Sharp, Undergraduate Admissions Officer at SOAS. Paul Woods, Assistant Director Student Recruitment & Partnerships, Royal Holloway explains that “the UCAS qual consideration policy means that you don’t have any less chance of being made an offer just because you’ve chosen to submit later. Lots of people submit on the 15 January deadline, the only impact is that you may receive the decisions a little later.”
Plan a road trip…..
It’s never too late to visit universities and as well as open days, most universities will also offer daily campus tours. You can find out about these on their website. Over the festive season though it’s important to consider that most “universities often close completely over Christmas and New Year” advises John Connolly, Head of Widening Participation & Recruitment at Aston University. He added “keep an open mind if you choose to visit at this time, as campuses can be cold, dark and empty. Early January gives a better chance for you to picture how it would be as students are back.”
...or take a virtual tour
Lots of university websites now have virtual tours that you can take a look at. If it’s unlikely you’ll be able to visit the uni, make sure you take a look at these. If you like what you see, there is no reason why you can’t apply and then visit the uni later on in the year.
You can still contact unis over the Christmas holidays
University staff will generally work up until Christmas and then take a break up until after the New Year. If you have a question about applying to a particular university, give them a call or email. Don’t forget that you can also contact most universities through their Facebook or Twitter feeds.
Make the most of uni reps on TSR & speak to other applicants in our uni forums
“If you’re looking for a quick answer to your quick question – our SOAS forum on TSR is the way to go! Utilise our forum as it’s not only a chance to ask questions but it’s a chance to celebrate offers, and chat with other future classmates” says Sharp. Royal Holloway, Staffordshire, Chester have also confirmed they’ll be online on TSR over the Christmas break.
We also have over 120 other uni reps on The Student Room who will be active across December and early January who will be around to answer any question you have on applying to uni. The best place to find them is by going to the university forums you are interested in. If the university has a rep you’ll see that there have been threads created by them to help you with some key application information.
You can also chat with other applicants in our university applicant chat threads, which you can find here. You’ll find whose applying for what subject and where and you can also compare offers, later on, discussing who you’re picking for you firm and insurance and the accommodation choices you’ve made.
The next open day is Wednesday 16 December between 10am – 4pm.
Post offer visit days start in February, see Visit Days to book on. They’ll also send all applicants details of these days when they make an offer.
Campus Tours are being run up until the start of the Christmas holidays and in early January prior to the UCAS deadline.
Campus tours are running on 16 December and 13 January. You can book onto these via our website. If you contact the team directly they may be able to facilitate a visit to the certain faculties. You can contact on 01752 585858 or email us at [email protected].
Campus tours are run every week and there are four dates left before the UCAS deadline: Guided campus tour booking here.
Staffordshire University are also offering to check your personal statement for free, giving you hints and tips. The even better part is that they are working over the Christmas holidays, so while your teachers are away Staffordshire University is here to help with a helping hand for you, visit: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/helpinghand.