Photo credit: Tan

Things you need to consider before applying to university

Our tips might help you with your university applications.

Ariele Tan

Published: 23 February 2018, 8:16 PM

It is that time of year again when university applications are in full swing. You may not know exactly what you need to do before applying to university and that is okay. Neither did I.

Applying for university is possibly one of the scariest things for us recent or soon-to-be graduates. It comes with the stress of finding all your documents, writing personal statements and the added fear of being rejected by any and all schools you apply to.

But fret not, for I have created a checklist of things you need to consider before applying to university.

1. Figure out what you want to do first

Deciding what path you want your future to take is never an easy decision, and the course you pick in university may affect the rest your life. That may sound scary right now, especially if you have not figured out what you would like to do in life.

Deciding on a path for your future is scary, but do not stress out about it and trust your instincts. Photo Credit: Tan

Spare a day or two to sit down for some serious thinking – where do you see yourself in five years? I won’t sugarcoat it; this is the most intimidating step you have to take even before you start applying for universities, but it will help you figure out where your passion lies.

When I tried picturing my future, I drew a blank. After a truly ridiculous amount of career quizzes and research, I finally decided that writing was my passion…for now.

The good news is, you will be able to find out enough about the various job scopes and fields that interest you online. If you need more information, you could always find out more from your seniors or anyone you know working in the fields that interest you.

Once you have figured out what you want to do, simply work backwards and aim for the degree that is necessary or best suits your needs.

2. Increase your chances of getting into your dream course

Everyone wants to graduate with a good GPA or ‘A’ level grades. But what if your GPA or rank points do not qualify you for your dream course?

Don’t give up just yet – there are other things that you can do to increase your chances of getting the course you want.

Most universities have a discretionary admissions section in their application forms. These sections help candidates with outstanding achievements gain admission into a course.

Outstanding achievements can be anything from having represented Singapore in arts or sports to being an active volunteer. If you have relevant work experience from your internships, include it in your application. It shows that you have some working knowledge of the industry.

Not having the grades for a course does not mean you will not be able to enter it. Photo Credit: Tan

A portfolio of work can also help get you into your dream course. Depending on the course or field you are aiming for, a portfolio may be required as part of the admissions process.

For example, Nanyang Technological University’s School of Art, Design and Media requires all applicants submit a portfolio in addition to prescribed assignments set by the university.

So, don’t be too quick to throw your previous school assignments. Compile them into a collection of your best work instead. That one assignment that caught the attention of your lecturers or one that you were most proud of could be of some help!

3. Make a list of all the important documents you need to prepare

Now that you have figured out what you want to study and how you can work towards your dream courses, it is time to gather all the paperwork you need for the application process.

Each university has a different application process, and they may require different types of supporting documents. Find out what documents are required for each school and prepare them in advance.

This is the time where you rummage around your room for your certificates and academic transcripts (e.g. ‘O’ and ‘A’ level certificates, polytechnic transcripts) and some form of identification (e.g. NRIC, passport).

Universities normally require scanned copies of your documents to be submitted in PDF formats, so be sure to prepare them correctly. Photo Credit: Screenshot from SMU Admissions

During the application process, you may need to write a personal statement as well. You can cover a range of topics in these, such as writing about your work or volunteer experience or how you overcame adversity.

I would suggest writing these statements beforehand so that you have more time to refine them.

4. Find out more about the university’s culture

Now that all of the serious stuff is out of the way, give yourself a pat on your back and take a breather. Find out more about what you can expect once you (hopefully) enrol in university and what other goals you can accomplish while getting a degree.

After all, studying in university is not just about getting an education. You can also build connections, meet new people and experience new things. These can change your university experience for the better and help you get through the times when you have term essays and exams to deal with.

Joining a CCA and staying in a hall are surefire ways to boost your social life and make university a better experience. Photo Credit: Tan

Even if things do not turn out as expected, don’t panic. Rejection may not necessarily be a bad thing, and it could simply be an opportunity to take a gap year.

Regardless of what you plan to do, remember to relax and take things one step at a time. All the best!


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