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What can you do now to make your future university application stand out?

30 July 2018

For many students, attending a top university is a crucial step between finishing high school and starting on an exciting life. But getting into the best university for you doesn't begin with the application form. In this post we explore what you can do in the years leading up to your university application to make sure that you shine and get into the university of your dreams.

Universities receive thousands of applications each year from bright, eager young adults hoping to study with them. Many of these students will have worked hard and received excellent grades.

But good grades, while important, are not everything. You need to shine. So, apart from studying hard at school, what else can you do to help you stand out? Here are some suggestions for things you can start doing whilst you are still at high school, long before the application process begins, to get prepared.

A female student sat in a science lab takes notes whilst looking at her laptop

Pursue your passion

What do you really care about? Maybe it is one of the subjects you study at school. Maybe you excel at sport or love playing a musical instrument. Or perhaps you would rather go surfing or spend your time in the kitchen baking.

Whatever you are interested in, embrace it. Don't worry if it doesn't seem highly academic or exactly related to the degree you are hoping to study (if you know already - it's ok if you don't!). You'll be more motivated to work hard at it if it's something you love. Strive to be the best you can be at it, and have fun along the way. Bring that enthusiasm for your passions to your university application.

Travel and explore

Going somewhere new is a great way to open your mind. This could be visiting another part of your own town or country. If you're lucky enough to have the opportunity to go abroad, make an effort to explore the area and get to know a little about the culture, the people and the local issues. Speak to local people to understand how they see the world differently to you, and be ready to see that your world view is not the only one.

Attending an international school is a great way to travel and explore other cultures. At UWC we have schools in 17 different countries. We encourage our students to get to know the country they're studying in. They also become friends with a diverse range of other students from across the world. Through the diverse interactions they have and the global mindset they develop they are able to stand out from other students when it comes to their university applications.

Expand your mind

As for the subjects that you are studying at school, don't just stick to the reading list your teacher gave you. Read widely around the topic. Choose books that other students might not have read. Watch documentaries from film-makers around the world. Visit a museum.

Stay curious and keep asking questions about the subject. Explore alternative perspectives, and develop your own views and opinions. If you have a strong opinion on a subject, try to read a book that offers an alternative view. Read books written by someone from a different culture, or background, or written in a different era. If you are able to, try reading a book on the topic in another language. Challenge yourself to understand as many viewpoints on the subject as possible.

At UWC schools our students are part of a deliberately diverse community. As they explore topics that interest them, they are always confronted with a different perspective and interpretation from their classmates, helping them to develop new views of how to interpret the world. The ability to see and explore alternative views is a dream for university admissions officers looking for the best students.

Pick up the newspaper

Universities look for students who are engaged in the world around them. Why not spend ten minutes each morning reading the news to see what has been happening in the country you live in?

Stretch yourself further by focussing on the news in a country you are less familiar with. Read the local newspapers or blogs. Do they give you a different perspective on things?

Make a difference

At UWC, we're passionate about building a peaceful, sustainable future for the world. If you care about political, environmental or humanitarian issues, maybe there is something you can do to help change things?

Universities embrace proactive students with outside interests and passions. Whether it's a global or a local issue that you're desperate to influence, think about what you might be able to do as an individual to make a difference right now. Or get involved with a group, where you can work together with others who share your interest. At UWC, our students work in teams to tackle major global challenges (like our humanitarian initiative).

Be a leader

If you have the opportunity, take on a position of responsibility and start to develop your leadership skills. It could mean running a society at school, starting a community project or taking the next step within your sports team.

Being an effective leader is not just about being able to list something impressive on your university application. It's about being able to listen and encourage those around you. What could you do to help people gain confidence, improve their skills and join you in achieving your shared goals?

Challenge yourself

Whatever you do, don't be afraid to set yourself a challenge. Walk, run, cycle or swim further than you ever have before. Pick a more difficult question for your latest homework assignment. Play a more difficult piece of music, write a longer story, try a harder recipe.

Do something that scares you. Give yourself a chance to grow and you might surprise yourself - and the university admissions tutors - with what you can achieve.

Pick the right school

All of these things will help to boost your university application, but there's no denying that your school environment makes a huge difference. Make sure you are at a school that both supports and challenges you to be your very best, and opens you to a world of experiences and opportunities.

For some students, mainstream school just doesn't allow them to do this. If that's you, you might want to think about alternative school options. And if you want a school that will not only help you to thrive academically, but that will also challenge you to do all the things listed above, think about applying to UWC!

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