9 Tips for university applicants: how to impress the admission board

According to the Shanghai Ranking system, six Australian universities are among the top 100 on a global level. The University of Melbourne holds the highest position among Aussie universities.

The Australian university sector is internationally competitive for many reasons. Professor Ian Jacobs, Chair of the Group of Eight and Vice Chancellor of UNSW, identifies a few key components of the education system, which result in its global competitiveness:

  • High research quality
  • Large number of international students
  • Partnerships with businesses and quality researchers
  • Increased economic benefits
  • Thousands of job opportunities for graduates

No one can deny that these are some of the best universities in the world. Studying there is a privilege that you have to earn. It all starts with the admissions process.

For high school students preparing for the admissions process, it’s important to understand that admissions boards look beyond academic performance. Yes; the grades are important. But if you really want to impress the board, you’ll have to do something more.

The good news is that these requirements are universal. Whether you decide to apply to Australian or foreign universities, you’ll benefit from the following 9 tips.

1. Achieve as much as you can in high school

No matter how well written your application is, your achievements in high school are considered by the board. In high school, you have opportunities to learn beyond the core subject areas. Of course, you have to excel in the core subject areas, such as Science, English, Mathematics, Technology and History.

Many Australian universities offer bridging courses during summer breaks. Be proactive! That’s what will help you get into the school you want!

2. Pursue extracurricular activities

XC training
Don’t forget your hobbies to show you are a well-rounded candidate. Photo: Free-Photos, Pixabay

If you intend to study physics at university, you’ll impress the admissions board if you prove that you’ve achieved more than your classmates in that area of study. At highly-selective universities, the admissions department will prefer students who have shown a keen interest in the field and gone beyond what is required.

Join clubs, participate in a summer internship program, and continue working on your interests.

3. Be very focused

There is one major difference between the U.S. and the Australian education system: in Australian universities, the applicants are expected to select a course before they start the studies, whereas U.S. colleges start with a more general education.

If you apply to an Australian university, you should choose a course you are truly passionate about. The admission officers will literally want to see some passion in your application. They can see it through the activities you participated in, but through your personal statement as well.

4. Demonstrate leadership

When the board members look through applications, they pay close attention to the students who show potential for leading clubs and activities on campus. Leadership skills are highly valued in all universities, regardless of the program you want to pursue.

5. Include good letters of recommendation

Teacher using white board
A teacher or unit coordinator can be a good person for a reference letter. Photo: StartupStockPhotos, Pixabay

Your high school grades already show how you performed in class. The recommendations from teachers, however, give more insight into your performance and character as a student. Your favourite high school teacher can write a recommendation that shows how you made an impact on the school community.

These recommendations won’t get you accepted on their own. However, they will make a difference because they make you a more recognisable candidate.

6. Build your online reputation in a good way

You probably know that employers check a candidate’s online reputation before welcoming them into the company, right? Don’t post disrespectful things on your social media accounts, even though the admission officer may not have the time to scroll down your Instagram feed. Nonetheless, if you have your very own blog and you share the link in the personal statement, it will certainly make a difference.

Start a blog related to one of your interests. If it’s related to the education you want to pursue, it will be even better!

Make sure to remove any online content that you wouldn’t want an admission officer to see. Even if you think they won’t check your profile, which is a decent chance, you should clean your profiles in case.

7. Find and show your voice

Make your statement authentic but remember to be confident. Photo: StartupStockPhotos, Pixabay

The personal statement is often the biggest struggle during university applications. You already know where and what you want to study. You did well at high school and you worked beyond the standard curriculum. When the time for applications comes, you want to make sure you have the best personal statement possible.

It has to embody your unique voice. Don’t panic. Be you! It’s important to show who you are and how you’re different from other applicants. Start by brainstorming! List all interests you have, and try to think of the things that make you a unique person.

8. Sell yourself

This is not the time for you to be modest. Highlight all your achievements. In the personal statement (also known as application essay), you should feel free to write about your exemplary academic record, your leadership skills, your internships, the blog you maintain, and anything else that can make a good impression.

Here’s how selling yourself sounds like:

“I am determined to make it into the app development industry, and this program is something I am very passionate about. Currently, I produce a weekly podcast discussing the latest news in the app industry, and I maintain a highly popular blog in that niche.”

Indeed, details like this will make a big difference in the scheme of things.

9. Always follow the instructions

Each university has its own application policies. Although they all seem similar and even repetitive, you must still consider them closely when applying to a specific school. The admission committee will make sure that all applicants follow the instructions to the tiniest detail. If you don’t do that, you can’t expect to get in.

This is a stressful process. There’s no question about it. But, at the end of the day, all university students have been through it and done just fine. Just don’t worry and put your best self forward!

Warren Fowler
Warren Fowler
Warren Fowler is an academic author.
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