Skip to main content

The journey to higher education is an exciting and significant one, but the process of applying to universities can often seem daunting. Already this term, we have had visits from top US and European universities telling students about their academic offer, how to apply, life at the university.

From crafting the perfect personal statement to selecting the right institution and program, there are many important steps to consider. To make the university application process smoother and more successful, we spoke with Director of University Counselling at TGC about the top tips for university applications.

Top tip: Be Yourself

The main piece of advice Kristen gives is to be yourself when it comes to applying to university. “I was reading an article about someone who applied to Harvard and didn’t get accepted but blamed a myriad of reasons, despite saying he had the perfect application for the university.” she tells us. And she added: “But the reason he didn’t get accepted is that he wasn’t studying or doing extra-curricular activities he was passionate about, rather doing them because of a profile he thought Harvard wanted”.

The most important aspect in any university application, whether you want to apply to an ultra-competitive one like Harvard, Oxford or Cambridge, or a less competitive one, is to show what you are passionate about – both in the subjects you choose for your IB program and your extracurriculars. Admissions reps want to see the real person and not just a profile – they want you to fit in on the course you are applying to and to university life.

The importance of extracurriculars

An age-old debate when it comes to extracurriculars is whether to do a range of them across the spectrum – music, sport and business-related, for example – or focus on building up skills on a particular area a student is very strong at, such as sport only. “That actually depends on the country in which the university is based,” Kristen reveals. In the US there is more of a focus on the holistic side of things, so having a range of interests and passions away from your studies is an important aspect of the university application, Kristen tells us. But she adds that things are slightly different outside of the US, where generally admissions teams focus the academic side. “If you are applying to a business course and you are a really good footballer, the admissions team doesn’t really take into consideration the football aspect but rather look at your academic record,” Kristen says.

The role TGC plays in university preparation

Our mission at TGC is to ensure students are best prepared for university when they leave us. Throughout their time with us, students get plenty of support along the way for every stage of the application process no matter where they are applying to.

But something not everyone will be aware of is that the support starts even before a student comes to TGC. Kristen tells us that she meets with students and their families before they start of the academic year to discuss university options, and to help when it comes to choosing the most appropriate IB courses to take in order to apply for a particular university program.

While with TGC, students have one-to-one sessions with Kristen to cover every aspect, from the personal statement to other areas of university applications such as financial aid and more.

As a final piece of advice of top tips for university applications, Kristen encourages students to attend the university talks when they occur on campus. Doing so shows the visiting admissions team that you are genuinely keen on that particular university from the get-go.