As would-be students embark on the annual university rounds, the key to clinching that all-important place at their college of choice can be down to careful planning and groundwork.
Anne Coward, head of sixth form at Giggleswick School, a leading co-ed boarding and day school in the Yorkshire Dales, has a wealth of experience helping young people to get into the university of their choice.
Here she shares her top tips for a stand-out application, personal statement and interview.
Demonstrate real interest and passion in the subject for which you have applied. This proof might not come from academic studies alone - work experience, volunteering and wider reading, which can include newspapers, magazines and journals (not just books) can all help. Even visiting places and people can show a depth of commitment.
2) Include all extracurricular activities
Any sort of volunteering is great on an application, whether done through another organisation or independently. Include work experience, Combined Cadet Force (CCF), Duke of Edinburgh's Award (D of E) scheme etc; all these can make a difference. It pays to be reflective about the skills learned from these activities, such as leadership, communication and teamwork skills and resilience. Also explain how the experience has affected you.
Talk about musical interests, drama performances and qualifications, art exhibitions; any teaching or coaching qualifications and experience should all be in your application.
3) Don't just list sports played
Say which sports you enjoy, but be sure to point out any achievements and levels or representation and club participation. Focus on what you've done within the sport, such as refereeing or coaching younger children.
4) Plan your personal statement carefully
There is a maximum word count, so be succinct and be sure to focus on the most important and compelling facts, showing real passion for the subject to be studied.
Show understanding of the course - say what appeals and how you know you feel you are right for it.
5) Don't just say what you did but what you learned
Don't include quotes and say that they were inspirational as this really is a bit cheesy!
6) Avoid the temptation to submit a list
The narrative is what is important, as well as demonstrating an ability to be reflective.
7) Check, double check and check again
Always ask a teacher or parent to proof read applications to correct any spelling or grammatical errors before sending them in. Nothing looks worse than basic, avoidable mistakes.
8) Be totally honest
The biggest mistakes I see are candidates trying to be too clever and thinking you have to know everything, when you don't. Be honest and be genuine as this will shine through.
9) Know your application
When it comes to an interview, make sure you know your personal statement and everything referenced in the application. For example, a book that's been read, as the interviewers are likely to ask something about this.
Last but not least, practise, practise, practise Q and As. The more familiar you are with any potential question, the more confident you will be in the interview.
For more information about Giggleswick School please visit the website www.giggleswick.org.uk or phone 01729 893000.