Blog 🍎 School 27th May 2022

How to Improve Your Students’ University Application Essays with BridgeU

Profile image of James Leach
James Leach

James is senior content marketing manager at BridgeU. He writes and directs content for BridgeU's university partners and our community of international schools

So you’ve got your students excited about applying to university. That’s one challenge out of the way! But once the novelty of browsing prestigious institutions and picturesque colleges starts to wear off (and exam stress starts to set in), it can be all too easy for students to forget about one of the most challenging aspects of the admissions process: their university application essays.

University application essays come in many shapes and sizes. There’s personal statements, Common App essays, and even motivation letters. But despite their many different names, university application essays all have one thing in common: they’re your students’ chance to bring their achievements to light.

It’s therefore no wonder that they can play a critical role in determining which students are offered a spot. But it’s also no surprise that they can quickly overwhelm students… and balloon into a stressful task for guidance counsellors and advisors, too.

In this post, we’ll take you through the key features on BridgeU that can help your students craft successful university application essays. We’ll also cover how these tools and resources can help you streamline your guidance curriculum and make tracking your students’ needs and progress much easier. 

Simplify your students’ university research

The first step of writing a successful application essay is deciding which universities to apply to!

But as you’re already well aware choosing where to study is no mean feat: a cursory glance over this year’s league tables can leave international students overwhelmed by the sheer amount of countries, institutions, and programmes on offer.

However, whilst it’s important for your students to take the time to research their options thoroughly, the sooner they choose, the more time they’ll have to write, and perfect their university application essays.

From your students who’ve been planning to pursue a particular career since primary school to the ones who still have no idea what, or where, they’d like to study, the BridgeU platform simplifies the entire university research process, from start to finish:

  • Students just beginning their research can use BridgeU to explore university options worldwide and discover the different courses, career pathways, and countries that could be a good match for them 
  • Students ready to narrow their options can build their profile to personalised university suggestions which match their career goals, aptitudes, and grades
  • Students who already know where they’d like to apply can search for and save specific degrees and institutions to compare admissions requirements and application deadlines at a glance
Screenshot of university exploration page

As your students narrow their choices, they’ll be able to log their course and country preferences by filling out their profiles and saving universities of interest to their Shortlist.

In their shortlist, students can easily compare admissions requirements and application deadlines from the different university programmes that interest them.

Students’ preferences, shortlists, and application lists can be edited and changed easily at any time.

Equip your students with the right university application essay advice

Once your students have decided where they’d like to apply, it’s time for them to get to grips with the specific types of university application essays they need to write.

That’s where BridgeU’s Writing Builder comes in. Complete with annotated sample university application essays (including UCAS personal statements and Common App Essays), the Writing Builder is an interactive tool which allows students to collate and build their applications all in one place.

Screenshot university application essay writing builder

As their counsellor, you’ll have your own BridgeU login which you can use to view your students progress in the Writing Builder and make suggestions on your students’ latest university application essay drafts.

“There are far fewer drafts of statements all over the place because we can say to students ‘Put it on BridgeU and we’ll look at it there.’ Staff don’t get frustrated about which draft they’re working on.”

Ian McClary: Head of Sixth Form, Bryanston School

Alongside the Writing Builder and its library of sample essays, your students can use BridgeU to access a library of up-to-date application writing tips and how-to guides.

Screenshot university application essay guide

On their homepage, they can filter articles by topic and save the ones they’d like to re-read. This newsfeed is also where they’ll catch invitations to upcoming events and past event recordings.

Exclusive to BridgeU students, our free events hosted in partnership with select universities worldwide are a great chance to meet admissions officers, professors, and current undergraduates from the universities your students would like to apply to and get the latest application advice.

Help them showcase the right extracurricular & academic achievements

When your students have understood what their choice of universities are looking for in an application essay, it’s time for them to choose which achievements to showcase!

This can often be one of the toughest parts of the essay writing process… both for your students, and for you.

On the one hand, you’ve got the students paralysed by choice-overwhelm or struck down by a bad case of self-doubt, lamenting that they don’t know what to write about.

On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got students desperately trying to cram a lifetime’s worth of academic accolades and a long list of hobbies into a strict word count.

University application essays need to strike a delicate balance between painting a vivid picture of a student’s unique strengths, goals, and personal history and stay succinct and on-topic.

And this balance will look a little different depending on the type of programme each student is applying for.

Students applying to specific subjects (as is common for programmes in the UK and mainland Europe) will need to cherry-pick experiences directly relevant to the course they plan to study. On the other hand, students applying to universities in countries like the US (where it’s uncommon to declare a major until their second or third year of university) will need to focus on painting a more holistic picture of their interests and achievements.

Screenshot University Application Essay Strategy

BridgeU’s Strategy Advisor is an interactive tool designed to help your students collect experiences and examples from their own life, and identify the ones most relevant to the specific kind of university application essays they’re writing.

Streamline your own workload

When it comes to university guidance counselling, chances are you know your students best. Your professional experience and outside eye can even give you valuable insights that your students (or their parents) might be lacking.

That’s why we’ve designed BridgeU to work in tandem with your own guidance curriculum.

From your own Advisor Dashboard, you’ll be able to guide your students through their university research and applications, and keep track of their progress.

Screenshot Advisor Dashboard University Application Essay Tracker

Our intuitive filters make it easy to assign your class specific tasks, and you’ve got the option to edit your own preferences to tailor which information they have access to in BridgeU.

You’ll also be able to monitor how they’re getting on with their university application essays, and assign tasks to your class, or send email reminders to those forgetful few!

By equipping your students with the latest data-powered information and interactive resources through BridgeU, you can nip writers’ block in the bud and give your students the tools they need to put their best foot forward in their university application essays.

And by simplifying your own workload in the process, you’ll win back some of the time spent on headache-inducing admin, which means more time to focus on the aspects of teaching and counselling you enjoy the most.

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