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Applying to University: The Ultimate Guide





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When it comes to applying to university, there’s a lot to consider. You need to decide on the course you want to devote the next three or so years to, narrow down where you want to study, and go through the process of applying through UCAS. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg; on top of the research and deadlines, there are applications to write and decisions about accommodation to make.

So, while things may seem daunting from the outset, planning is the key to ensuring everything goes smoothly when it’s time to apply for university. As a student, you’ll know the importance of research and revision all too well. That’s why we’ve drawn up this extensive guide for your university applications. Keep it close by, get to know it well, and you’ll be well prepared when it comes to what you should do come application time.

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  • As part of this, you should visit open days at the institutions you like the look of. If this isn’t possible, then get in contact with a lecturer or student at your desired university to get a better understanding of what life there is like. There’s also an increasing number of universities that offer virtual tours of facilities and accommodation, which can be a good substitution if the distance is an issue at that moment in time.With regards to entry requirements, since universities can have a range of necessary grades that you need to meet, it’s a good idea to have a back-up choice, just in case. You can apply to five different institutions, so don’t be afraid to use the maximum number available to you.


  • The UCAS process


    Writing your personal statement


  • With your options narrowed down, you’ll now have to write your personal statement. You can only write one personal statement and it’s this document that gets sent to all your options. As a result, you don’t want to mention specific course names or universities, but it needs to convey to the admissions teams that you want to study at their university.
  • student studying


  • Brainstorm some ideas before you start typing. Ask yourself why you want to study that particular subject, why the university feels like a good fit for you, and what you would bring to the institution should you be successful. Showcase your standout achievements and any relevant material that you feel are applicable, and link them to the future success you wish to continue in your studies.Other things to consider when writing a personal statement include:
  • Show your personality, but avoid slang altogether and be careful with humour. Try to strike a balance between polite and personal in your writing, and convey your enthusiasm in doing so.
  • Include extra-curricular activities like hobbies, part-time jobs, volunteering and link them to your suitability for the course.
  • Likewise, any placements or internships should be highlighted in the same way. What did you get out of them?
  • Make sure you proofread it as much as possible. Poor grammar and shoddy spelling mistakes can count against your application.
  • Once you’re happy with it, ask a friend or teacher to have a look at it for you. They can tell you if you’ve missed anything out or point out anything that needs improving.
  • Sending off your application through UCAS

    Head to the UCAS website, find the courses and universities you’re applying to, and complete the relevant forms. There will be many sections to fill out, but they’re all very self-explanatory.

      Be sure to save these sections as you make your way through them, just in case your computer crashes or any errors take place on the UCAS site. Once that’s done, click the final submit button and wait for your offers to come in.
  • Deciding on your accommodation

    Much like picking a place to study, choosing where you want to live during your studies is another important decision that’s affected by different factors. Somewhere that’s convenient, comfortable and welcoming is highly valued among students, so keep these things in mind when making a choice.

    In terms of specifics, a strong and reliable internet connection is essential for when the workload starts to pile up. Somewhere that’s located close to your university campus, local shops and other places of interest not only makes the uni experience easier to adapt to, but it can also help to enrich your time during that all-important first year of settling in.


  • Welcoming, reassuring staff with your best interests at heart are also important to a student moving away for the first time. They can help you settle in and offer an ear if you need someone to talk throughout the term. To this end, staff in certain accommodation will oversee several different communal facilities, which is another important aspect of your choice. Common rooms, gyms and cinema rooms are a great way to make new friends and let off some steam after a hard day of studying. Nido takes some of the difficulty out of your decision by offering all of our residents this, and then some…


  • Essential stuff: A student checklist


  • With your course and accommodation finalised, all that’s left to do is wait for the big moving day. And much like everything else on this list, there’s plenty you can do in advance, so you’re fully prepared for when the semester starts.



  • For starters, keep these pointers in mind while you’re packing:
  • Travel light: Try to stick to just the essentials when packing. Leave the bulky kitchen appliances at home, as these will most likely be in your accommodation. Aim for a large suitcase, a few boxes for extras, and a big laundry bag for things like sheets, towels and bedding.
  • Avoid splurging: Look for the cheaper alternatives if you’re buying new things. There’s no need to splash out on fine china when you can find plates, bowls and utensils for much less.
  • Double-check: Your accommodation will make mention of any appliances or equipment it already has, so before you start packing or buying, look into whether your new home provides everything you need.
  • Buy things when you get there: Possibly the best thing you can do to cut down on packing is opting to buy the bigger items you can’t bring with you once you’ve reached your new home.
  • What you should definitely bring with you

  • Important documents such as your passport/driving licence, university documents like your acceptance letter, Student Finance documents, National Insurance card, course acceptance letter, passport photos and bank details.
  • Bedding in the form of a duvet, bed sheets, pillows and pillowcases (be sure to check the size of the bed before you go).
  • Clothing for all seasons and styles, including smart casual and formalwear. Hats, scarves and gloves are all essential for the winter. You don’t have to bring all the clothes you own, but variety and choice is good to have on hand. If you like to exercise, bring activewear with you too.
  • Electrical items like your laptop, phone and charger.
  • Bring along your own towels and any of your preferred personal grooming products. Also, everyday medicines, like painkillers, are great for combatting common illnesses, as well as the dreaded freshers’ flu.
  • What to leave at home


  • Bulky items like printers and TVs are a nice luxury but a hassle to cart across the country with.
  • Though you’ll be getting through plenty of books during your studies, avoid buying your entire reading list beforehand. The complete list will take up too much space for a start, and trust us, you won’t need every book on your reading list. See which ones are essential and which ones you can borrow.
  • Don’t bother with old notes and books from your A-Levels, as the material will differ too much from your uni course.
  • Stationery can wait until your term starts. Head to the Freshers’ fair and stock up on the free pencil cases, notepads, USB sticks and any other free stuff you can get your hands on.
  • If you’re looking for a student living experience that offers more, head over to the NIDO STUDENT SITE to see what properties are nearby or drop us a line on 0207 1000 100 for more information on our student residences.