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Stepping up to higher education

This month, we’re diving into the challenges of university applications. Where to go, what to study, how to stand out – we know it’s a fraught time for students and parents alike. But with a little preparation now, we can help de-stress the process and secure that coveted place. We’re experienced in supporting students applying to study here in the UK, across Europe and the US, and have an international team on hand to guide you, no matter where you’re heading.

Decisions, decisions…

The country’s capital or a coastal town, close to home or overseas – the best way to pin down your university shortlist is to visit as many institutions as you can. Even if you can’t attend an open day in person, many universities now hold virtual events. We’ve found these particularly useful for our students applying to US colleges and European universities.

Either way, you’ll have the opportunity to meet the teaching faculty, as well as current students, giving you a feel for the learning environment at each institution. Don’t forget to consider the social side too. Student accommodation, sports facilities and societies are a big part of university and will shape your overall experience for several years.

Back at home, you can check league tables and read reviews online. The government’s Teaching Excellence Framework has ratings on teaching quality, as well as student outcomes. Much will depend on what you want to study of course, so it’s important to examine the individual offering at each university you’re considering. Look at the modules covered, find out who the tutors are and how you will be assessed. In our new blended reality, it’s also important to ask how the course will be taught – are lectures in person or online? What about seminars? And how prepared are they for remote learning, should that time ever come again?


The secret to success

Course choice isn’t just critical for determining where you study – it can also determine how successful your applications are. Admissions officers want to see genuine passion for a subject that extends beyond the school gates. To pursue a course for three years takes commitment, so choosing something you genuinely enjoy can be a key differentiator. You should be able to engage with your chosen subject in a meaningful and independent way – sharing opinions and different perspectives, rather than simply repeating facts.

Admissions teams are also looking for team players who will make a positive contribution to the student community. This is where extracurricular activities or a part-time job can really help you stand out, as they’ll demonstrate collaboration and dedication. And don’t forget the basics – a well-written, carefully proofread application goes a long way.


How we can help

We have a long track record placing students in some of the leading universities around the world, and our dedicated university consultancy service can support you from application to acceptance. We always aim to match you with a consultant who graduated in a similar field, or from your chosen university, so that they can act as an advisor and a mentor throughout.

Alongside helping to navigate the options on offer and supporting personal statements, we can offer targeted interview preparation and bespoke advice for Oxbridge applicants. For those applying overseas, we can draw on an expert team of educational consultants, all with significant international experience.

Applying to US colleges can be particularly stressful, with SAT/ACT exams some of the most challenging. The format is unfamiliar, the scoring system notoriously tough – but with our step-by-step support and targeted tuition, we can help unlock the door to some of the most exciting opportunities stateside.

We’re here to help parents too. What with researching courses, arranging visits and hitting deadlines, there’s a lot for the whole family to contend with. We can give you a head start by helping to shortlist universities of interest, based on your child’s abilities, as well as advising on entry requirements, timelines and the entire UCAS process.

Open days for 2023 admissions are around the corner, so it’s important to begin preparing now. For more advice on getting started, or to find out how our educational consultants can help, please get in touch with the Figtree team.


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