7 Tips for Finding Top Universities to Apply to | Student Reviews & University Rankings EDUopinions

7 Tips for Finding Top Universities to Apply to


If you have weighed the pros and cons and finally decided to apply for a University abroad, then you’re at the right place! Studying abroad can be one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. The next thing to do is to find the top university to apply to and see the chances of getting into college that you want.

Choosing the right university for studies can be crucial. It’s crucial enough to make or break your career. One needs to think about all the factors such as the college environment, faculty ratings, living conditions, method of studying at the university and more.

Since every country has a different admission process and so does almost every university, just the thought of applying to universities can be pretty daunting and overwhelming. Not only is an application process long, but also arduous – scaring many students at this point itself! But, don’t worry, it’s a small hurdle with a big reward at the end.

EDUopinions will take you step-by-step through the process of finding a good university, how to apply, how to write your personal statement, and how to figure out the rest of the process.

EDUopinions is an online platform where you can read real, verified student reviews about universities from all over the world as well as get free information about them.



1. Choose Where To Apply



The first important task to conquer while applying is to actually choose where to study. This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s extremely important to think carefully before choosing your top universities.

It’s actually advisable to start your preparations as early as possible. These steps include:

– Doing your research online: Reading blogs, articles, students’ reviews on EDUopinions, reading detailed articles and just going through all the universities’ websites you’re interested in.

– Speaking to family, friends and relatives who have studied overseas: This is probably the most important as talking to your loved ones will give you a fair idea of what studying abroad is like, what kind of challenges you will face, what it’s like studying in a particular country and what the university environment is like including the faculty and the campus.

Apart from following the above steps, students need to also consider many other elements like looking at the type of environment they would like to live in. Is the country they are going to have friendly locals, what is the transport system like, how are the living conditions in that area? Students also need to see if that city is cheap or expensive in terms of transport, food, and rent.


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Students also need to keep in mind the kind of degree they would like to pursue. Every college has a different system, and one needs to be thorough in checking out the kind of degree they want to go for. All universities, even if they are in the same country have different methods of teaching and styles. Some are very focused on methods, while others are more practical-oriented. As a student, one needs to figure out which kind of teaching method will suit them more and make them thrive in the university and eventually later on in their careers as well.

After checking off all these points during your preparation stage, students also need to check out the immigration policies of that country if they want to work there as well. And there also needs to be a realistic understanding of the costs that will be needed to study abroad, as well as living there comfortably.


2. Working for Test Scores and Grades

If you’re working towards getting admission into one of the top universities, then your grades and test scores need to be really high, which also means working hard in your school. For example, in the US and UK, students apply with their school record to date. For UK universities, you also need to state your predicted grades for your school-leaving examinations (ie, A Levels, International Baccalaureate, Scottish Highers or BTECs) Apart from school grades, you will also need to pass other additional tests such as medicine or law-specific admissions tests such as the SATs or ACT.

However, don’t feel burdened if you can’t get top grades due to some personal circumstances.  Selectors read applications bearing in mind the personal context in which you have achieved the grades. If you have gotten slightly lower grades due to some personal problems like health and economic conditions, then you can state that in your application form. You will also need some solid referees to check out your reasons and so they can explain that you have the potential to score highly.



However, if you’re applying to a US University, then you will need more than just good grades. Some of the best universities, want their students to be all-rounders and future leaders with good interpersonal skills as well. If you’re outstanding in sports or arts, it can make your application stand out as you have more to offer to the university than just your intellect. The more prestigious your awards and wins, the better!

Since so many students apply for various degrees every year from all over the world, with high enough grades to make them eligible for admission, the other things you can bring to student life will often be a decisive factor.  At the same time, you should bear in mind that the most competitive universities reject as many as nine in ten applicants.

In the UK, you can mention your extracurricular activities in your form, but most likely it won’t sway the selectors’ decision. But if you apply for a course that uses interviews as part of the admissions process, then you might be asked to talk about any activities you have described in your application.


3. Getting Started With The Admissions Process

Once you have made up your mind and weighed your decisions, it’s time to fill out the admission form. Though this might seem like the lighter, fun part, do make sure that you take care of how you fill out the form. You wouldn’t want your college admission rejected just because you didn’t finish your form correctly with the required evidence, or applied too late. Students should check entry requirements and deadlines before applying to their favourite universities to make sure that they have the best possible chance of gaining a place on their chosen course.

If you are unsure about the admissions process or if you qualify for a course just contact the admissions office or international office in your chosen institution to check before submitting a full application. Also, fill out the form as early as possible so that if and when you get in, you have the maximum time to wrap up everything like visa processes, arrangements for moving abroad, plane tickets, organising finances, and applying for scholarships beforehand!



4. Writing Your Personal Statement

The competition is stiff when you’re applying for top universities. So, almost all university applicants will have high predicted grades that will meet the university’s academic requirements. So, any other personal information which highlights personal excellence can be a way to impress the selectors.

Your personal statement can be a great way to highlight your achievements and show ways in which you connect with the subject or university. Admission selectors usually look for motivated students who can articulate their aims and have the potential to succeed in the course.

You can talk about your work or internship experience as well as your extracurricular activities. However, let the main subject of your personal statement be dominated by the subject you’re choosing and why you will be the best candidate for the university. Admission selectors are the most impressed when students demonstrate a real understanding and passion for the subject, so make sure that your personal statement showcases this.




5. Highlight Your Interest In The Course During Tests And Interviews

After obtaining the highest grades possible for getting admission to your favourite UK university, make sure that your application form reflects your love and passion for the subject you’re applying to study for. Things like your personal statement, your references, and – if you have an interview – your interview responses, should highlight your passion for the subject. It’s all about convincing your admissions tutors that you’re genuinely interested in the course that you’re applying for and you’re really excited to study it further.

If you have taken extra courses, read certain books, done some workshops to acquaint yourself with the subject, then make sure to highlight these points. If you’re called for an interview, brush up your skills and knowledge in that subject so you don’t fumble during the interview. A confident and right answer goes a long way in building the right perception.

In US Universities, you don’t have to decide on the subject or course right away. However, some students already decide what they want to study before getting admission. In both the cases, you need to be sure to talk about what attracted you to the university and why you would be excited to go there, and what you think you would be able to contribute to the student community. Many US universities also offer interviews with alumni as part of the admissions process. So, if you’re offered such an opportunity then make sure you have done the background checks about the universities and have your answers ready. It’s all about showing your passion for the university and why you would be an asset to the community there.


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6. Always Be Organised And Never Fake Anything In The Admission Process

Though as a student you have to be academically impressive, you also have to be impressive as a person. This doesn’t mean overselling your qualifications and claiming to be even more impressive and more accomplished than you are. Admission selectors often see through these applications and might not go ahead and select you. So make sure that you’re saying exactly what your resume states. Be genuine.

Also, throughout your admission make sure to be organised. Some universities like Oxford start their university process one year before the start date. So make sure to keep checking the form submission deadlines, reading the processes carefully and then submitting the forms. Double-check everything you write and re-read the admission form thoroughly to avoid any silly mistakes. US applications often need to be in by the November before you want to start

Also organise any additional tests, getting references, and proofreading and getting feedback on your application. These steps are more important than what you might feel at the time. Though it might seem overwhelming, make sure that you do all these steps properly.



7. Be Optimistic, But Don’t Be Disheartened

It’s great to be optimistic and to have dreams of getting into Harvard and Oxford, however, most applicants who apply don’t get in. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Give it your best shot.

If you have a chance of getting into an elite university, then you might just get in! Even if not, you will not go without any offer of a place anywhere – you certainly will be able to go to university.

Furthermore, getting into a top university is not the be-all and end-all. You have just as much of a chance of making your life happy and meaningful and enjoying your studies when you attend a university that is not among the top international institutions. Even if you don’t get an offer to get into the top universities you had an eye on, don’t be disheartened. Just enjoy the educational experience and study hard.


Before boiling down your choices for which universities to apply to, make sure to have a look at the student reviews at EDUopinions. 


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Written by
Nikita is one of the main authors at EDUopinions, specialised in Higher Education and focused on business studies analysis. She is a digital nomad who works while travelling.

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