How teachers can help students prepare for their UCAS submissions


How teachers can help students prepare for their UCAS submissions

The return to school in September for Year 13 pupils can be incredibly daunting, as it’s a time when they are required to make a number of decisions around their future.

They’ll need to decide whether they go to university, and if the answer to that question is ‘yes’, there’s then the need to submit a UCAS application. Teachers can play a pivotal role in keeping the process as simple and as understandable as possible, so here we’ve detailed some of the ways they can provide support for pupils.

Is university right for someone?

One of the big questions for those in Year 13 is whether to progress into university education. As a teacher, it’s important that you can showcase the various opportunities and options available, and that you can be in a position to support youngsters to make a decision that is in their best interests.

Progressing to university might be the most popular choice for those leaving school, but it is by no means the only option available. While doing so can allow pupils to gain qualifications for a career in a certain area, or to pursue subject interests, a higher or degree apprenticeship could be a better option. Alternatively, a pupil could progress straight into the workplace or be tempted by the prospects of a gap year.

Personal statement writing

A key part of the university application process is creating a personal statement. Each pupil will need to craft their own unique reasoning for wanting a place at a particular university, and while there isn’t a strict formula to follow, you can still provide assistance.

You’ll need to remind pupils of the need to keep the statement concise and for it to be tailored to their university of choice. A popular approach to follow is known as the ‘necklace’, whereby the opening line and final paragraph are closely linked, with the ending reinforcing the points made at the start.

Structuring the personal statement

You can also direct pupils where to go to find further support, as there is a host of digital tools available. One of these is the personal statement tool, which is available to pupils when they sign up for the UCAS hub.

Rather than telling pupils what to include within their personal statement, it has hundreds of useful prompts and questions designed to get them thinking. There’s also guidance on how to structure it, and a character count so they’ll know when the 4,000 limit is in sight.

Overcoming stress

The application process can be incredibly stressful for pupils, but teachers can take actions to help reduce levels of anxiety. This can include being readily available to answer any questions, or knowing the details of those in the school careers’ office so you can direct pupils to them for more information. Take some time to enhance your knowledge of the process too, as that way you’ll be best placed to field any questions that might arise.

If you need more information, you can also refer to this official government guidance for schools and colleges, which provides information on what school staff need to know in relation to careers guidance. 

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