Application tips

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Whether you are applying to college or sixth form (or both) you will be asked to complete an application form.  This may be the first time you have been faced with this task so below you will find some help and advice on completing some of the more difficult sections.

Do make sure you follow any instructions that you might find at the top of the application form or at the beginning of each section that you have to complete.

If you can, try to take a copy of the application form so you can complete it in rough first.  It's better to make mistakes on this rough copy before completing the real thing!

Personal statement

Whether you complete an online or paper application form you will usually be faced with a section where you have to write something about yourself - usually called a personal statement.

It can be a bit daunting to have to 'sell' yourself but basically the college/sixth form include this section to give you the opportunity to tell them a bit about yourself including why you would make a good student at their college/sixth form.

It's useful to structure your personal statement to include the following:-

- your reasons for why you want to attend that particular college/sixth form (is it because of their facilities, their courses, their reputation for certain subjects, or something else?)

- your career plans if you have any.  You may want to say how the course or courses you are applying for will help you with your future plans.  If you don't have any clear career ideas you could describe what it is that interests you about the course(s) you are applying for.

- anything you do outside of normal school lessons such as playing for a sports team, learning a musical instrument or being part of a drama club.  If you can link your hobby to a skill that you have developed this is a good thing to mention to any potential sixth form or college.  Playing a sport can help you work well in a team; drama is great for building confidence and learning a musical instrument shows a dedication to developing new skills.

The Student Room has a useful article on completing personal statements.

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Work experience

If you have had a part-time job, completed school work experience or been involved in any volunteering, this section is a really good place to display what skills you have gained.  List the key skills you learnt from the work place, such as working in a team, communication and customer service skills.  Try and give as much information as possible about the activities you carried out such as “I was responsible for taking all telephone bookings and updating the database, to ensure the salon was organised.”

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Spelling, grammar & punctuation

It’s easy to think that you don’t have to be formal when completing an application form, however sixth forms and colleges will be looking at your spelling, grammar and punctuation.  Your application may be the first impression they have of you, so taking the time to check your application before you send it is really important. Get someone else to read it through to make sure it all makes sense and that there are no spelling or grammar mistakes.  If you complete your application online on Help You Choose you can check to see what it will look like before you send it.