Top tips for preparing UCAS and international university applications for 2020


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What help and advice can I give to my teenager as they begin to prepare their UCAS and international university applications for 2020 – what are the most important factors to consider in the admissions process?

Most often, my advice to students and their parents as they embark upon the university admissions process is to find the right fit for the individual - and that means the campus type and city as much as the academic course.

Here at ACS, we want to get our students ready for university life by asking them to consider the parts of their personality that will impact their success rates in higher education. For example, what is your learning style? Do you prefer small groups, large lectures or independent study?

Look for courses that are delivered in a way that suits your academic preferences. Are you an extrovert or an introvert - with this in mind, consider the choice between a large university, and a smaller campus or college setting.

When choosing where to study, think about if you really know what you want to study in depth, or whether you want a wider range of studies which narrow later. It's OK if you don't have a clear career choice in mind or want to continue exploring different areas of interest before settling on a narrower academic focus.

If you don't have a very specific career choice in mind, students can think about broader subjects such as geography or English, where there are many pathways to choose from. It's not unusual to struggle with exactly what you want to do, so keep an open mind while looking for the right general fit in teaching style and location.

Categorise the final university selection by 'Reach', 'Target' and 'Likely' and have one of each in your selection. Reach: where the entry requirements make it a challenge to secure a place; Target: where your son/daughter's academic profile is similar to the average acceptance student profile. The decision may go either way. Likely: where your son and daughter is confident of achieving the university entry requirements.

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It's also really important to visit your top choices of university if you are able - and ask a lot of questions of both staff and students, looking for their opinions on the course, the atmosphere of the university and also about life beyond the course; what have university alumni gone on to do with their degree?"

While 98 per cent of ACS students go on to university, there are exciting options for any student who wants to look at other routes after school. 'Finding the right fit' is the mantra for all. Just looking at the different industries on shows the options available, and it's important to think about what genuinely interests your child.

Sometimes even with a passion for a particular subject such as computer gaming, it's better to take a broader, but related subject at university, such as computer science. This will build a wider skill set that could give more options later in life, while still allowing an individual area of interest to be developed.

Don't forget to follow @acscobhamschool and #acscobhamlife to see the latest from the school;

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