The summer holiday is here. A time to unwind, take a break and fully recharge for another
busy year ahead. Summer is also an ideal opportunity to prep for life after high school.
Text: Skyler Bentley Hall
Are you looking to get a head start on university applications and maximise your holiday time? If so, here are my top ten tips:
#1 Campus tours
Customise your university search - no one size fits all. First, consider why you want to apply to a specific university or programme? Then, take advantage by participating in campus tours. Most universities are open for in-person visits, and if possible, visit universities in different regions while on holiday. This can even be a fun activity for the whole family!
#2 Social media
Whether you use FaceBook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or another SoMe platform, sign up for different news feeds to become familiar with university events, special guest speakers or other topics of interest. Think about how you see yourself fitting into academic and student life at a university. Social media can be a powerful and influential tool.
#3 Open day events
Mark your calendar well ahead of time and prioritise these events. For example, if you intend to spend three, four, or five years at a university, students should try to spend a day getting to know the community. If you cannot get onsite, take part in a virtual visit.
#4 Internships or employment
Seek out experiences that may further enhance your profile. Consider what transferable skills universities are looking for, such as communication skills, teamwork, or demonstrating leadership. Gaining practical experience is very useful, and communicating the takeaways in an essay or interview will further promote your candidacy.
#5 Readings and research
Search for articles or books recommended by universities. Get a head start by researching course content, and if you have an interview with an admission representative, you are sure to impress them with your knowledge and initiative! You could even follow some of the research being done by professors at the university.
#6 University fairs
Participate in events, virtually or in person, to learn about study options. Become familiar with university lingo and terminology to feel more confident speaking about the programme you are applying for.
#7 MOOC course
Build on your current knowledge or learn a new skill through an online course. There are hundreds of courses available through EdX, Coursera or FutureLearn. Be curious, take the initiative, and show the university you are a self-starter and keen to learn beyond the high school syllabus.
#8 Essays and motivation letters
Start the writing process early. Take time to reflect on personal experiences, review sample essays, and set goals to make your profile stand out. Share draft essays with parents, teachers, or counsellors to receive constructive feedback. Like finding a job, applying to university is all about marketing yourself. Why should the university recruit you? What skills, hobbies, and talents do you have that set you aside from the other candidates? You are unique, so be sure to show admissions what makes you so unique!
#9 University spreadsheet
Create an Excel or google sheet to organise and record your research. This may include the university name and location, program applying to, entrance requirements, tuition fees, application deadlines, average GPA, clubs or societies of interest, the chance of acceptance, or any other information when narrowing your choices.
#10 Be resourceful
Take advantage of speaking to family and friends about their experiences. Understand why they chose a specific university or course to study. Connect with people in different fields and ask those pressing questions – network, network, network.
Most importantly, be realistic about your expectations and set attainable goals. It is ok to dream but ensure your goals are within reach. Enjoy exploring all the possibilities this summer, and remember that your personal success is your number one priority!