Ah, the UCAS application. Not much actually goes into it, just your personal statement, where you want to apply to, and you details. Sounds easy, right! But there’s a lot of umming and ahhing that goes on when you decide you want to try out uni life, and I spent plenty of time unsure of how to start my statement and what universities I wanted to choose (five seems like a lot of choice, but hard to decide on when you’re faced with a tower of prospectuses from all around the country). But, unfortunately, the time comes when you need to make and send your decisions, along with your finished statement, over to the UCAS gods to decide on the fate of your university years to come.
Although I did find it stressful towards the end of my deadline, getting to choose independently, probably for the first time in your life, where you want to study and what your course will be is actually a really exciting experience. After going to a few open days, I worked out pretty quickly which universities suited me, and which didn’t. Everyone has their own checklists of what they want from their university; most people want their course to be high up in the university league tables, or consider how close to home they will be in case of homesickness. For me, I primarily wanted to find somewhere where I felt comfortable to learn and could use the help of my lecturers and tutors if I needed it. Leicester is perfect for this, as on the psychology course you are given a mountain of people you can talk to if you’re struggling or want some advice, from peer mentors, to the super friendly lecturers in the psychology department, your tutors and the university counselors.
I also needed to make sure that I could afford to live in the city of the university I chose, a priority I’m sure many of us have. Leicester again was perfect for this, as the accommodation prices are among the lowest in the UK, and the costs of living in the city are much more affordable than the likes of London or further south.
Now for the dreaded personal statement! I really struggled knowing where to start with this, and especially for brits, writing down all of our talents and skills is something we just aren’t used to, and it often can feel like you’re bragging when writing something like this. But just remember – the university wants to hear what you’re passionate about, what they can gain from having you as a student, and if you don’t show them exactly why you would be great for the course you’re applying to, they won’t choose you. So writing the same old skills such as being a hard worker, or finding psychology reeeeeally interesting, won’t show them enough about you. Instead, tell the reader what you want to do with your degree, and what new things you can bring to the university. These can be both related to your course or other extracurricular activities that might be beneficial to the university, such as playing an instrument and showing an interest in taking part in a university band.
If you have any experience that goes beyond just A levels related to your chosen course, this is perfect. For my statement, I showed that I stood out from the others by talking about my EPQ that I took alongside my A levels and the process behind that, and also my experience volunteering at a mental health charity. If you don’t have experience like this that’s ok, but maybe consider what you could do to boost your statement in the time before your deadline.
And, most importantly, try not to ruminate excessively over applying to university. The year before starting university was the most stressful of my life, including my time spent at Leicester, but no amount of worrying you do will change what will happen. Although I didn’t end up achieving the grades that I hoped I would get, I was still accepted at Leicester, just showing that the effort you put into your personal statement may be worth it in the end.