London is an attractive location for students in the EU. Many may think that applying for London universities is a nightmare, but it is quite the opposite. Long story short, there is not that much good advice to give, except my own experience while i was going through the undergraduate application process. I did it all within three weeks, accompanied by a flash of decididness just after I had returned from NY. Running around like a mad person to get my reference letter, personal statement and UCAS application ready and enquiring about the student finance, I could not blame the system for being overly complicated or expensive. In fact- it was straight forward and easy. With a relief I sent it off on time – to be notified the next day that the January deadline had been extended by two weeks. Yes, there will be some parts of the system you can not control, such as picking the perfect course and ending up with teachers you may not like. But enough of these ironical moments which I am sure every one will encouter at a certain level of their application or relocation process. Let us get to the point and consider your financial options, filling in the university application and writing the personal statement.

The first and natural concern of a university student is covering your tuition fee and living costs. London is not a cheap place to live hence if your parents can support you-great, if your country provides students with reasonable loans- you are good, but if neither of these options are open for you, the process gets more difficult. The living costs is the first and foremost issue of the EU students as the Gov.UK student finance makes it easy for EU students to borrow the tuition cost for undergraduate studies. That is if you have not already studied in the UK and received that loan. However the UK does not provide maintenance loans and grants for EU students (but the universities may provide scholarships and/or grants): hence if you have no maintenace support available, you need a part time job or a part time degree to make it work. Like I said, the process is straight forward- whether it is easy for you personally depends on your parents and on the welfare your home country is willing to provide through loans or student grants.

The next process is filling out the application on the UCAS website that allows a student to apply from one to five university courses at a time. The application deadlines are clarified on the website and one must keep an eye out to be on time. In that case you are considered within the first decision round and you will have more time to ponder or find other options in case your application is declined. For example Cambridge and Oxford expect the students to apply by 15 of October while the general application deadline is on the 15 of January. Different dates apply for performing arts courses. There is no need to panic at first if you have not received an offer, there is an extra round after the first decisions have been made. For more-even if you do not get an offer from the extra round, you may still find a course through the clearing round that offers places on the courses that have not yet been filled. There are also part time courses offered through many universities. If that is your choice it is best to discuss it by directly talking to the university and ask about the programme. Knowing all that and how many great options you have to get a place in a London university- let us jump to the application proccess.

It is likely that most of the students prefer to send applications to five universities, unless they are intersted in studying in a specific institution or course. On the UCAS website one can look for similar courses within different universities, check on their entry requirements and go on to do an additional research on the university website. As much as many of us would like to apply for Oxford or Cambridge just for the fun of it, first do consider your exam scores, personal interests and what kind of a student you are. Needless to say, I did not apply for top notch universities: not because of the fear being declined, but simply because studying ten hours a day was not my goal. For more I was not born a genius. If you are- I believe you know. Or if you have spent or are willing to spend hours and hours studying and academics is you deepest satisfaction. All in all it is good to choose the courses you are interested in and find an academic table that lists the universities of London within this subject. I applied mostly for universities in the top fifty and received two offers from these. As a back up option I threw in one weaker university- to be on the safe side. But if you are a risk taker there is nothing wrong in going for the best, even if you end up using the extra or clearance round in the end. Sometimes a risk pays off!

By this time everyone must be wondering what is the UCAS application process like. It is a quite long application from personal information to the final exam scores and grades received in high school and/or which ever institution you have also studied in. There is no advice to give on writing down this information. It is obvious that you should explain your national scores or exam per cents if they are different from the English system. What is more problematic is your personal statement letter to universities. The aim of this letter is to show your character and motivation to study on the course you are applying for. In the first instance one faces a nervous situation since the instructions will not really help you to write a good personal statement. Believe me as I read some of them. You will encouter examples of people who claim to have been reading the Financial Times since they were five, and you will feel like you need so start lying or you consider yourself an idiot compared to the born and raised gentelmen of over exceeding knowledge. The other extreme type is very poetical or literature like statements that make you feel like reading a prose or a fairy tale. Yes, some but not all of us are that extreme or that talented. So-be yourself and give yourself a few days when your mind works on the questions of who you are, what is your motivation in life and what kind of a character your writing style will reflect. Also if you did smoke weed with your friends behind the garage and you want to enjoy all sorts of crazy things in life-do it all, but please resist a temptation to stand out by shocking the readers or being a rebel. I mean, you are applying within the academic system and as ‘being a bit crazy’ may do you good at certain jobs, wait until you get one. In general it is good to picture your life philosophy, what and how you have learned from your life experiences, and how and why you came to want to study on the course you are applying for. A quote or a funny personal line is great- but by all cost if it sounds cheesy or overly used- better keep it original or without trying to’posh it up’!

There are two types of offers you can receive- unconditional and conditional. The first means that you have been accepted without any more academic requirements. The second means that the university will declare the conditions under which you will be accepted. You can apply before receiving your final exam scores hence the university may demand certain results or an English language test. For more your UCAS application must be accompanied by a reference letter from your teacher, employer, coach or someone who knows you and your capabilities and achievements. The reference letter can be sent to UCAS by the writer through the provided links. If you are able to negotiate with the universities, they may allow you not to provide a reference letter. In addition UCAS allows you to apply individually or through an academic institution. The application fee is just 12£ for sending one application and 23£ for sending more than one application. The extra and clearance rounds are also covered by that 23£. The application process is no labyrinth and getting accepted depends on your exam scores, but also very strongly on your personal statement. Once you have considered all of the above and feel that you are ready to become an independent and self reliant person- it is all that matters.

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