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How Covid-19 Has Affected University Applications

With cancelled exams, travel restrictions, lockdowns and distance learning, the university applications are looking very different again this year. Our students during the last two university admissions periods have needed to adapt their approach to best suit the universities expectations during the current climate. This process can seem a little intimidating, but fear not as by just making a few small amendments to your application you can really demonstrate your adaptability and critical awareness.

In 2020, many North American universities made the SAT and ACT optional, meaning that you could apply to some Ivy League schools without submitting an ACT or a SAT score. As a result, many students applied to universities that normally would be out of their reach, and the number of early applications to Harvard increased by 57%, and to Columbia University by 49%.

More applicants mean more competition

NoticeboardNow, more than ever before, it is vitally important to write an application that stands out. Yet, it may be the case that due to COVID-19, you did not participate in as many extracurricular activities as you thought you would, and you may have less work experience than you expected to have. So what should you write in your personal statement to help you stand out?

Try not to forget that the universities have lived through this turbulence as well and thus are fully aware of the limited opportunities to obtain physical work experience. However, do not use this as an excuse to be lazy. Universities will be looking for these students who are proactive in their search for experience and dedication to their discipline. If traveling outside of your city is no longer viable, look for local opportunities, ask neighbors or family friends if they can talk you through their profession. Even if this is in a field that differs from your own course, take the opportunity and use it to demonstrate the interdisciplinary nature of professional careers. Ask to sit-in during a few conference calls or read through some documentation; look at the business literature, identify the tone and efficiency of the writing. Reflect on these key experiences within your personal statement and identify what you learnt and the strengths you have that would deem you suitable within such a profession.

Utilise resources available to you

Programming work experienceThe abundance of online courses and masterclasses that are now available at the touch of a button are a real treasure that has emerged as a result of the pandemic (we try to look for positives where possible). Websites such as EdX, Masterclass or even our Feynman Masterclasses offer you the chance to speak to industry professionals and have a taster of university level expertise. Select a few different online events to attend across various disciplines. Choose the timings wisely and schedule them to happen across your weekends or half term. Again, note down any key points or skills they refer to and reflect upon this within your personal statement.

Aside from these additional courses, do not underestimate the skills you already possess as a result of daily life. Time management skills are strengthened by juggling extra-curricular activities, communication skills during class presentations, social awareness, compassion, mentoring etc. These are the skills you have been subconsciously refining for years, identify them, reflect on them and phrase them as a strength.

Show don’t tell

You want to show passion without telling the admissions officer that you are passionate about. It is quite a skill but once you have perfected this it transforms your personal statement into one that truly stands out.

The tips described above merely scratch the surface with regards to personal statement perfecting. But hopefully this, alongside our article Personal Statements 101 they will help act as a basis for you to start your application.

If you would like more bespoke one-to-one Personal statement feedback feel free to Contact Us directly for a free consultation with our Director of studies.

Our co-founders Madeleine and Chaand are also hosting a Masterclass this week describing some of their key tips for university admissions and personal statement perfecting.

They have helped students with successful applications to Cambridge University, Stanford University as well as many of the Russel group and Ivy League universities. Register your place by

Good luck!


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