University Applications: Top Tips

University Applications: Top Tips

QS Staff Writer

Updated January 28, 2022 Updated January 28

Give yourself the best chance of admission to your chosen program with these top tips for university applications.

Research the university and study program

Make sure that you have thoroughly researched both the study programs and the universities that you are applying to, so that you are certain that they meet your expectations and that you have the appropriate qualifications to meet all entry requirements.

Talk to the university

Speak to international admissions staff and alumni of the study programs that you are interested in so that you can build up a picture of what is expected of you as an applicant and as a student.

Have a backup

You should be applying to a number of universities of differing standards, all of whom you would be happy to study at, but who offer different entry requirements. Having first, second and third choice institutions ensures that no matter what your test or degree results are, you will have a good chance of being accepted at one of the universities

Apply online

Apply online if possible. Institutions prefer applications online as it is much more efficient for them to process.

Be honest

International admissions staff see thousands of applications every year and are very experienced in spotting an 'exaggerated' application.

Letters of recommendation

Choose the people who write your letters of recommendation very carefully. They should know you and be able to talk about your strengths in detail, giving concrete examples if possible, and providing evidence that you have skills and knowledge relevant to your application.

Application essays

Statements of purpose and application essays are your opportunities to impress an admissions officer with your existing knowledge of your chosen subject. Invest sufficient time in these to ensure they reflect all of your abilities and ambitions. 

Preparation for tests

Ensure that you have prepared well for any supporting tests that you are required to take as part of your application. Should it be necessary, enrol in a preparatory program.

Additional information

Send additional information if you think it will reflect well on your application. Additional letters of recommendation from employers or evidence of your extracurricular activities can help.

Be organized and meet deadlines

Make sure you are aware of all deadlines and that you are prepared well ahead of time to ensure that all aspects of your application are complete. An incomplete application can delay a decision and may reduce your chances of being accepted.

This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in January 2020