By Sarina Chandaria
The Application Period
· Make sure you are aware of all deadlines – some may have earlier ones for applications that want to be considered for particular scholarships/funding sources as well. These deadlines can be rolling (i.e., until they fill all the places) or close anywhere from December to March. Most deadlines are in January though.
· Set aside some money for application fees, as this can be anything from £0-80+ per application.
· Update your CV – try to keep this to 1-2 pages, and alongside each bit of experience write about what you specifically achieved or learnt in the role.
· Ensure you have all your documents in order
o Good digital scan of your passport
o An official degree transcript (if you are still doing your degree you need an on-course transcript that you can request from your university’s academic office (it needs to be signed and stamped, will usually cost a bit of money to print and post).
o A copy of your diploma
· Confirming who your references will be; this will usually involve asking your tutors if they would be willing to write a reference for you (academic references are usually mandatory if you within 0-3 years of doing your undergrad, following that professional references are also acceptable).
o Some places require no references at all, but most will ask for two.
· Writing your personal statement is a key step in the application process, and unlike undergraduate applications, you need a unique one for each place you apply to.
o Give yourself lots of time to draft and edit the statement.
o What also really helped me was to ask other people to give feedback such as tutors, friends, and family. You can also book a 1-1 meeting with a career’s advisor with your university’s careers service for them to look through and give professional feedback on your statement.
· Prepare any additional statements or documents needed for funding/scholarship applications.
General Personal Statement Tips
Below are some of the key things I tried to include in each statement, although some universities have specific guidance on what they want you to mention so ensure you take heed of those requirements also!
· Explain clearly and with a sense of enthusiasm why you are applying to this particular course and institution. How did you become interested in this area, and why does it continue to be important to you? Does this particular university have a unique module or facilities that others do not?
· Explain how previous academic and professional experience has shaped your decision to apply to this course and how those experiences have given you the skills, motivation and ability to successful complete the course such as research methods, working to deadlines, independent study etc.
· Write about how the course contributes to your plans for the future be that PhD or career related. Try to give a sense of your long-term goals.
· The end of the statement should summarise everything and restate your enthusiasm.
Finally, regardless of what you write ensure that it is within the word limit and written in good English (or whatever language you’re applying in) with correct grammar and spelling.