We’ve used the word ‘strategy’ but perhaps another helpful word to get students started is ‘toolkit’.
In order for students to strategise their applications properly, they need a toolkit. This toolkit comprises all the strengths, experiences and personal attributes that can enable students to make their application truly strategic.
The skills and experiences that students need to demonstrate will differ slightly depending on the university they are applying to (more on this later). But broadly speaking, these are some of the things that your students might want to think about when assembling their strategy toolkit.
Formative interest in their subject
This is probably the most important factor to think about when devising a university strategy, as it will ultimately inform all the others we’re about to list. Many university application systems will want students to explain when, why and how they became interested in studying a particular subject or discipline.
Let’s put it another way. If you want your students to become university application superheroes, then this is their origin story!
By the time they reach their penultimate year of school, most students will hopefully already know how to answer this question. But you can get younger students thinking about this too.
For middle year students, this will mean thinking about more about what subjects they’re interested in, or academically gifted at.
This is another common component of an application that almost every university will ask for. From a strategy perspective, extra-curricular activities stand out for a few reasons and allow students to develop other skills and experiences that universities look for. These include:
- Proof of subject interest outside of the classroom.
- Showcasing a student’s softer skills – e.g. leadership, teamwork, entrepreneurial spirit.
- Earning other qualifications/credentials outside of school life.
A good university application strategy involves students looking at their extra-curricular portfolio, and thinking about how this can link up with their academic pathway.