University Applications without Work Experience
Advice for Year 13’s
The personal statement is a key part of the UCAS application when you apply to university – this is the chance to show the admissions tutor who you are, what you’re interested in and why you deserve a place on the course you’re applying for. You’ll know from research that admissions tutors like to hear about the work experience you’ve already gained, particularly for courses like Medicine, Nursing and Teacher Training. But what if you haven’t had the opportunity to gain any work experience because of the Covid-19 pandemic, where there are many workplace restrictions in place?
The CEIAG department have some advice in relation to this and strongly advise year 13 students in particular to seek out ways to develop their personal portfolio of experiences in order to develop the personal statement section of the UCAS form.
The CEIAG department recommend:
1. Completing a MOOC:
I would most encourage you to look at is Massive Open Online Courses (also known as MOOC’s). For those that are not aware, MOOC’s are online certified courses (sometimes you have to pay for a physical copy of the certificate at the end), but usually you can screen shot the certificate and this would be enough). Completing MOOC’s would both widen your subject knowledge and demonstrate your commitment to lifelong learning. Could it set you aside from others perhaps? Particularly pertinent in the competitive field that is NI education!
Below is a non-exhaustive list of websites you could use to begin your search for a relevant MOOC:
1. Future Learn: https://www.futurelearn.com/
2. Iversity: https://iversity.org
3. Edx: https://www.edx.org/course
4. Udacity: https://www.udacity.com
5. Courseera: https://www.coursera.org/
I urge you to please go and have a look and see what it is starting soon. Some have particular start dates and some you can just start whenever. For example, if interested in Business, the University of Coventry is offering a course starting in January 2021 on Procurement. Might this look impressive to university selectors?
2. Undertaking a virtual work placement:
I have populated the year 13 Careers Team with numerous examples of online programmes. For example, KPMG have an online program where you will get to complete similar work that our Graduates do at KPMG. You will learn what it is like working at one of the world’s best data analytics team, and build skills required to excel as an analytics consultant. Think of the skills and qualities that could be developed from this.
3. Participate in university webinars:
Many universities in the UK and Ireland are engaging with students as part of their outreach schemes. Why not tune in and learn about course content to demonstrate course awareness in your personal statement? For example, Ulster University have a webpage dedicated to their webinars, which is worth checking out: https://www.ulster.ac.uk/events/recruitment-webinars
4. Check out other university outreach events:
Ulster university are running a series of courses in what they call their "flexible learning academy”. It is designed to raise aspirations, widen participation and increase attainment across post primary sectors in preparation for engagement in higher-level learning. More detail of course choice can be found here: https://www.ulster.ac.uk/flexible-education/schools/schools-outreach-academy
5. Listen to TedTalks or Podcasts:
There are many academic TedTalks and Podcasts out there which students could tune in to. Oxford for example have a range of pod casts available here: https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/
Or why not tune in to some student podcasts to find out about student life in a particular area, for example The Student Physio Podcast.
Our current upper sixth student Ellie McLean discusses her experience of completing online courses from home:
When a summer work experience placement wasn’t looking likely due to the pandemic, I took the opportunity during lock down to upskill myself by taking on a MOOC in ‘The Impact of Childhood Mental Health on Learning’. I wanted my personal statement to be competitive for Medicine and I believe that by showing commitment to further study and lifelong learning within the field of medicine helped with that. I currently have offers to attend interviews and I am excited by the prospect of discussing my completion of the course with the panel.