Do’s and dont’s of applying to uni as an international student

Friday 18 September 2020, International students


Do’s and dont’s of applying to uni as an international student


Applying to university can be stressful at the best of times, but when you’re an international applicant, it can feel impossible to get that UCAS application right! As an applicant from the Netherlands, I know how tricky it can be, and I made plenty of mistakes along the way. Here are some of the things I wish I’d known before starting my Ucas application.

  1. DO communicate with your school.  Make an appointment with your careers advisor or head of year to discuss your application a couple of months before the deadline. Many schools that aren’t based in the UK are unfamiliar with how UCAS works, so be clear about what they are expected to provide, like references and predicted grades.
  2. DO your research.  Even if you can’t visit the universities, there is plenty of information online to help you make an informed decision. Make sure you know exactly what you’d be studying at each university, as the course will be very different depending on where you are. Also check out whether the location is easy to get to for international students: are there frequent flights or trains from your hometown?
  3. DO check if you need to take an English language test. Registering and taking these tests can be time-consuming, so make sure you do this as soon as possible.
  4. DON’T be discouraged if you don’t get much support/understanding from your school. Most of my teachers had never even heard of St Andrews or Durham, but that didn’t stop me from applying! If you find your school doesn’t provide the help you need, don’t be afraid to ask the universities questions or contact UCAS. They’ll be more than happy to help.
  5. DON’T forget to check the grade requirements for your country at the universities you’re applying for. Not every university has the same grade conversions, so make sure they’re asking for reasonable grades before you apply. Some universities ask for very high grades from international applicants, so only apply to places with grade requirements you think you can meet.

Above all, remember that most universities have hundreds of international students, so your nationality won’t put you at a disadvantage. They’re looking for the best students, wherever they come from!

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